Dharma in Motion for the Dufatanye Women
World Dance for Humanity is partnering with Dharma in Motion, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, to help the women of Dufatanye Co-op open a Craft Store en route to Rwanda’s famous mountain gorillas. This is a very special collaboration, which will result in an income-generating enterprise for the Dufatanye women, and an outlet for the crafts made by four of our other women-led co-ops.
On April 13th, Dharma in Motion is hosting a dance performance in Pasadena with original Africa-themed choreographies, African food and drink, and an art installation in support of the project. The organizers are so passionate about the project, and are working very hard to create a memorable evening and a new way of life for the Dufatanye women!
Their goal is to raise $5,000 to launch the Craft Store!
Dufatanye (“Helping Each Other”) Cooperative was founded in 2015 by 125 rural Rwandan women, many of whom were infected with the AIDS virus. There are now 507 people in the co-op, including their families. They live in the hills in a very remote area of Rwanda’s northern province just an hour south of Rwanda’s famous mountain gorillas in Volcano National Park.
When we met them in 2017, the Dufatanye people were barely surviving as subsistence farmers with very few animals and no other source of income. They also suffered the stigma of being “poor people with AIDS,” and had little hope of improving their situation.
With the help of our dancers and donors, WD4H was able to give them 135 goats – one for each family. In December, World Dancer Jayne Johann donated $1,000 for a full-grown, pregnant cow they named “Johanna.” Within a month of her arrival, Johanna gave birth to a baby, “John Nicholas,” named after Jayne’s father. Now each Dufatanye family has a small income source, a source of manure for their crops, and milk to share among all the families. We are also sponsoring three of their young people to attend high school. In May, for Mother’s Day, we will raise funds to make sure every family has a mattress to sleep on.
Dufatanye Craft Shop
“Opening a store is like a big dream for us – we still can’t imagine we are the ones chosen to make it happen. We know what the community used to call us [poor women with AIDS] and how they used to see us. The store is going to change all this – it will increase our value as women in the community. We will grow from what we are able to make, and learn new designs to attract a wide market.” – Beatrice, Dufatanye
On our way to Dufatanye during our Rwanda visit in July of 2018, we stopped at a little market place near the co-op, on the main highway between Kigali and Volcano National Park. There were a few small food shops, and the ONLY restroom and ATM between the city and this world famous tourist attraction. At the co-op we were shown the woven baskets the women were learning to make. We put these ideas together, and began exploring, with our Rwanda Team, the possibility of helping Dufatanye open a little craft business in that series of shops.
In October, our Team met the owner of the property and were able to reserve one of the storefronts for a craft shop for $250 a month. The business is being planned as a joint venture between four WD4H co-ops: Dufatanye, Abakundana, Murindi, Twiyubake, and the Ejo Habo Orphanage. Each of these co-ops will supply crafts to the store and receive a percentage of the profits.
Our seasoned craftswomen at Twiyubake will train Dufatanye to expand their basket-making repertoire over the course of two months. Two Twiyubake members will live near the store four days a week until the women have acquired the skills they need.
We all feel very positive about the potential for this business because of the location on the way to a major tourist attraction. They are confident that the $640 projected in monthly expenses can be covered through sales. The business experience of the Dufatanye women is limited to selling a few of their baskets on market day in nearby villages. They need to learn, through time, to manage the craft store on their own. The plan is for one or two of our college graduates who majored in economics to relocate to the area and run the business during this learning period, under the supervision of our Rwandan Business Coordinator, Judy Rwibutso (see photo, right). In the beginning, Judy will be at Dufatanye several days a week, with less time required once the students have shown that they can manage on their own.