What is Azizi Life?
In Swahili ‘Azizi’ means good life. Azizi Life is a charity organization who’s vision is “to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan communities working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all.” They work with different women’s cooperative to help earn fair-wages by selling their crafts to help develop the different communities they live in, and provide an outlet for women to empower each other.
Azizi Life Experiences
In addition to coordinating the sales of the women’s crafts, they have a social enterprise program called Azizi Life experiences. This program offers people visiting Rwanda the unique opportunity to connect and gain insight into the life of Rwandans in rural villages. They offer a range of different cultural experience in the form of full day or half day activities such as: traditional cooking classes, African dance and drumming, banana juice making, organized hikes, and the opportunity spend the day in the life of an artisan. My friends and I participated in the ‘Day in the life of an Artisan Experience’ and here is a recap of our day.
A Day in the Life of an Artisan with Azizi Life…
We first arrived at the Azizi Life office in the town of Muhanga where we were greeted by our guide, Jean-Claude. He gave us an overview of the cooperative we would be spending the day with, Twivane mu bukene. The name of the cooperative means ‘ We come out of poverty’. The women of this cooperative work together to sell their crafts and have formed a strong network of support to encourage one another in all aspects of their lives. After learning a bit about the cooperative, we drove over to meet the women at their home.
When we arrived, we were greeted with women singing and dancing to welcome us.
All the women were very excited to host us and wanted to learn about who we were, and where we were from. We sat and introduced ourselves and learned more about each of the women and talked about many things from marriage, family planning, their families, and things we like to do for fun.
After introductions we got dressed for the day to help with the preparation of lunch. Rwandan women normally have their knees covered, so they provided us with wraps and head scarfs.
For lunch we had red beans with sweet potatoes and avocados. Everything we ate was from their garden and was oh so good.
After lunch, we went out to the field to do some gardening. We learned how to prepare the soil to plant some beans and corn. We also learned how to harvest sweet potatoes, how to cut grass (by hand :), and picked some avocados.
Following the time spent out in the fields, we learned how to do some basket weaving. The cooperative we spent the day with works primarily with banana leaves and uses them to weave baskets, bags, place mats, and bracelets. The banana leaf is a staple item in Rwanda, and you can find it almost every where in restaurants, houses, stores and various different settings for many different things.
As our day began, we ended with singing and dancing, and we didn’t want to say goodbye.
This experience was truly touching to spend time with these women. Since my friend is from Rwanda she was able to translate in addition to our guide so we really got to engage into some really good conversations. I am very thankful for this experience, and send warm wishes to each of the women of Azizi Life.