Nyamirambo Women’s Center | Umutima Co-operative Kigali, Rwanda
Nyamirambo Women’s Center is a Rwandan NGO which was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination, problems faced by many Rwandan women.
NWC’s mission today is to provide education and training to disadvantaged women so that they can gain better opportunities for employment. On their website you can find their 3 overall objectives:
- To strengthen the institutional and organisational capacity of NWC
- To promote and empower women through capacity development and employment
- To promote women and community-based tourism
“With these 3 objectives in mind, NWC has become an important community center for women in Nyamirambo, by offering free classes in literacy, English, basic computer skills, handicrafts and sewing, empowerment trainings on gender based violence and trainings on responsible community based tourism.”
At the end of 2013 NWC launched the product line “Umutima” – including house ware and children’s wear. NWC is training and employing women from the community, and they are paid a fair wage for their work. At the moment there are 37 women employed for Umutima as seamstresses,and the aim is to expand this activity in the future. NWC hopes to create a successful income-generating project for both the women and the Center.
What we did was go along and be part of the the Centers’ Responsible Community-Based Tourism (CBT) initiative. The first of these initiatives was a community walking tour which gets rave reviews on Tripadvisor. The tour gives visitors an insight into the every-day life and challenges, social events and businesses. Visitors can obtain a first-hand experience of Rwandan people and culture and at the same time the tour benefits the women at NWC and the larger community. Unfortunately due to a very late arrival into Kigali on the Friday night (well Saturday morning at 2am) we decided that the girls probably wouldn’t benefit from a walking tour but we did take up another couple of the CBT initiatives; basket weaving and hair braiding.
Basket weaving is hard! Made to luck incredibly easy by the ladies at the Centre (and as it turns out my Sister in Law too) me and the girls struggled. Thankfully the ladies and gents of the Centre are on hand to help at all stages and made the girls feel like they were actually making theirs when in fact they really weren’t.
At the same time that some of us were basket weaving the girls were having their hair done, one by one. I was a little worried when they started that the braids wouldn’t come out easily but thankfully the ladies realised this and only put the braids in lightly as they said the girls hair was very soft and would get spoilt.
We were at the Centre for around an hour and a half. Water was provided and we were welcomed with open arms. This was our first afternoon in Rwanda and the welcome we had was a sign of things to come. After we finished our basket weaving lesson we wandered back across the street to the shop selling products made by the seamstresses. The girls had set their eyes on a few dresses and headbands and I was happy to let them choose. It seemed like a perfect place to buy some souvenirs from our trip rather than in overpriced shops at the airport, and we in no way ever felt pressured to purchase.
I think the dresses look beautiful and they have washed really well too. A fantastic initiative and definitely somewhere to visit if you find yourselves in Kigali.
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