The Pygmies Start Their Sewing Business!

1 Twa with Debra's photo GROUP

The Pygmies (“Twa” in the Rwandan language) are one of the oldest tribes in Africa. They have been living in isolated groups in the forests and jungles of Africa for thousands of years. In 2011, some of the Rwanda Pygmies emerged from their lives as forest-dwellers where they survived by hunting and making pottery. World Dance for Humanity is helping the “Abakundana” Twa Cooperative in Southwest Rwanda on the Burundi border, providing goats, cows, and educational stipends.

The Twa are led by an incredibly inspired, ambitious group of women who are determined to create a sustainable livelihood for their families. They had been dreaming for years to start a sewing business, and had researched the feasibility of running such an enterprise in their region. In 2013, we visited the Twa for the first time, and have been keeping in close contact with them ever since through our Program Director, Justin Bisengimana. World Dancer Debra Geiger, who visited the Twa with us in 2014, learned about their plan.

Debra: When I heard about the sewing business, it seemed like a perfect fit for our family, who generously jumped on board. We were able to donate $3,000 for 8 treadle sewing machines, training, and the outfitting of a small store. The Twa practiced for a year, and on June 20, 2015, they opened their business! A year ago, these women had never used a pair of scissors. Today they are full-fledged seamstresses offering quality goods to their region.

We are all so grateful to the Geiger’s for their incredible generosity, and for sharing this
vision with people a half a world away. Betsy Stivers, businesswoman and WD4H Board Member,
will be monitoring the books with Justin each month and offering guidance as the women
develop their accounting and management skills.

Justin: There are so many reasons for these people to be overjoyed! Everybody who knows the history of the Twa in Rwanda has reason to celebrate! It’s hard to believe these are the same people who had no other choice but hunting, and were living in such poverty. Donors, lives are being transformed because of your big hearts!

Government Sector Leader (who was present at the opening) : It is a privilege to have such a good project in our sector being owned by a group of people. It is really promising that they will make it even much better than we all think. We must appreciate the donor to this project. Just paying for a sewing teacher is enough, but they have gone beyond that by paying for your sewing machines and other sewing materials. As a sector leader, it gives me much hope that together with your donors, we will make miracles in this sector. You have the right resources to make all you need in this project happen. Thank you donors for your continuous support but most of all for the hope you brought to these people.

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    Life has been created in this community. these people are really equipped with what they need to enter into a modern society. given the history of this community, it could be very hard for them to integrate with nothing. They have been given a reason to feel life is different. thank you so much dancers for reaching out to them.

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    It is very exciting to see hoe hopeful and confident these people are. it really obvious to everybody that transformation is taking place. thanks dancers

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