Women hold up half the sky.
- Chinese proverb
I am a proponent of women’s rights all over the world. Regular viewers (are there such things?) are familiar with my interest and work with artisans in Tanzania last year. It has been over a year since I returned, and I still remember what it was like to be there.
WomenCraft is a social enterprise that works with refugee-impacted, and some refugees, women in northwestern Tanzania. Closely situated to Burundi and Rwanda, the Ngara district was heavily affected by the refugee crisis (Rwandan genocide) in the 1990s. WomenCraft helped organize female artisans and assist them in marketing and selling their baskets around the country, as well as abroad. In addition, the org worked with artisans on literacy and mathematics training, finance and side projects, such as making soap.
Artisans told me, as well as others who have worked there, that the financial impact has allowed them become financially independent, giving them the ability to support themselves and their children.
I worked at WomenCraft as a marketing intern, photographing the product line, developing a more streamlined pricelist and other marketing materials, including newsletters and artisan profiles. I got the honor of photographing many of these women–my favorite aspect of my four short months with WomenCraft.
As much as WomenCraft has impacted these women, I would say their impact on their communities and volunteers with the organization is much great. I know that is cliché, but I can think of several times when I realized how respected these women became and how inspired I felt by their pride in their work. It made me proud of my own.
Artisans of Mubayange
Artisans of Muratabo
Ellie, design intern, and Mama Mpenzille, now Executive Director, discussing product quality with artisans
The daughter of an artisan, who was very curious about my camera
Geniva, Ellie, Mama Sarai, Edron and Mama Mpenzille weaving at the office
The dadas (incorrect Swahili for “sisters”) – Me, Vanja, Gloria, Breez, Ellie and Meghan