As promised, here are the stories of a few more of the Bitengye Designers. First there's Dorothy, who comes from Rubingo, where Alice's Sewing School and a number of other Bitengye women live. She is our expert beader, and has crafted the expandable bracelets and beaded journal covers you may have seen us selling at various places in the past. And which we'll have for sale at the Christmas Fiesta sales in Courtenay and Campbell River again this year. Dorothy has been a wonderful addition to the group, and took on the teaching of Lydia and Stella (both from Kikagate) how to make the bracelets, once she learned the skill from Joan Darling. Ever patient and with a smiling face, she can be heard sharing stories and laughing with the other beading ladies from the table they worked at in the shade of the veranda.
Lydia (from Rubingo) and Stella are seen here watching me act out a little drama, with help from Perez and Nightingale, to teach the women the basics of small business. Specifically I was trying to explain to them why the "middle-man" pays less for the goods than he/she charges the customer. Lydia has always been a strong but quiet member of the Rubingo Bitengye group. Her sewing is now expert, and the quality of the products she makes is always high. Stella, from Kikagate, did not have such a happy time sewing, and is now much, much happier making bracelets. In fact she came to the workshop with a bag full of 50 bracelets to show us. She is much more confident, as a result, a lovely thing to see.
Knight is from Rubingo, and is doing "somehow OK" now, although she has had illness to contend with over much of the last year. She was one of three women who needed medical care on arrival at Canada House. Hard to imagine what it must be like to carry on without much-needed medication, because you don't have enough to pay for it. Knight's daughter and grand-daughter also paid a visit to us at the workshop, to thank us for what we'd done for her mother. Knight's sense of humour was as much in evidence as ever this year, in spite of her illness. You might remember the photo we took with her lying on a bed, the first thing she bought for herself with her earnings from her sewing.
One of the most touching things we saw this year, and heard about, was how much the women in this group support one another. They keep in touch by phone, and those that live in the same area, visit each other and often work together. Our impression is that this will continue long after we're gone, such a good thing.