Friday, May 22, 2009

Road Trip

We headed out of Kigali for the 125 KM ride to the previous capital, Butare. We passed many villages and small towns and saw hundreds of people working on the fiber optic project as well as prisoners working on agricultural projects. There were two groups of prisoners: those in orange jumpsuits, first offenders and those in pink pants and tunics for habitual offenders. The Rwanda justice system has a very interesting process on what happens between the period when someone makes a complaint against another person and the trial.
The person who swore out the complaint needs to show up at the jail three times a day to feed the prisoner and if he/she is convicted, the state takes over the cost. Needless to say, this is a deterrent to reporting civil crimes and makes people work things out without bringing the “LAW” into it. This is the opposite of a litigious society.

Our first stop was at an Artisan project established in by a Catholic priest in the 1970's and they now provide beautiful art and functional items (cups, trays, plates etc) made out of tin, the only mined product in Rwanda. The project has grown to six buildings around a courtyard with as many as 10 workshops in each building. One of the reasons we visited is to see how we can use some of their bigger pieces at the school to enhance the learning environment. We really want to incorporate local art and possibly provide art and music activities to supplement the Hospitality curricum.
But the second reason we wanted to meet this COOP Director was to determine if their products could provide a fundraising avenue for Akilah. A “Hot” boutique jewelry company is interested in designing a bracelet made from local resources and crafted by local artists to market at upscale stores in the US with a portion of the profits going to our organization.
They have never done anything like this before but as we looked at their work we found a number of pattern/examples they currently use on other products that could work for a cuff bracelet design. More to come on who will be designing this for us...
We then headed to a local pottery Coop to see their basic place settings and how we can use these for the dining room at the school.
They were all hand done and inexpensive so we would be helping the COOP and providing unique products at the school.
In our travels, we passed the university, a shade coffee project, and a member’s coop for other art. Cow Dung is dried and painted for wall art, masks are hand carved from various woods, drums, (John, I can send a dozen or so drums for Sales use if you are interested!)Baskets and ceramics are available as well.

Architects for Humanity will be very happy with the local art we found and will be able to incorporate them into our school design.

I am haveing trouble downloading the photos of the Tin and pottery workshops but when I get a better connection I will just send some pics and no commentary.

I am heading into a busy social weekend with a dinner and jazz concert on Saturday and the ealry Memorial Day picnic with Embassey people on Sunday. A new Consultant arrives on Saturday so I help aclumate him to his new home.
Thinking of all you and miss you! Susan

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