Environmental professor and author David W. Orr once wrote “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up”.
I love this quote and think of it often when thinking about the women we employ in Rwanda. I love it because of the implication…
Hope is not just a wish…a dream… a longing for things to change.
So many inspiring stories come out of Rwanda and Umuzabibu Mwiza,, our facility for True Vineyard Ministries. The story of the employment of Odette and the subsequent birth of her daughter, Diana, is too precious not to share.
But first, a little background on the very early days of True Vineyard Ministries and the process used to hire and empower our first employees.
When True Vineyard Ministries was founded in 2007, the game plan was to employ ten women living in and around Susa Village to build the foundation for the Handspun Hope brand. The vision of True Vineyard Ministries looked beyond offering employment to women directly affected by the atrocities of the Genocide against the Tutsi. We wanted to provide shelter, health care, education, and trauma counseling to every employee. The goal of True Vineyard Ministries was to restore dignity to these ten women and move them into economic self –sufficiency so they could become leaders of change within their families and surrounding communities.
So we got to work. In mid 2007, we began the process of reaching out to local churches asking for help in identifying of the poorest of the poor. We wanted to start with the women who were in the greatest need. As we started down the long road of identifying potential employees, we also began setting up permanent housing for these women through land acquisition and home construction.
And this is when we met the lovely Odette. Odette is a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Her story is somewhat unique in that her husband survived the atrocities of war but was left severely traumatized and unable to provide for his family. Odette received her first gift from True Vineyard Ministries in February of 2008 when a house was built for her on a plot of land owned by her family.
Odette was grateful to have a safe space to raise her family. Her previous home had a roof that was disintegrating and when it would rain, her children would run under her skirts for protection from the storm. Months later, in mid-summer, Odette was offered employment with True Vineyard Ministries. This would change her life and the life of her children forever. The first day the ladies were hired, it was apparent to the True Vineyard Ministries staff that Odette was pregnant. She told them that she was due in three or four months. It is important to remember that when you are truly poverty stricken, you have absolutely no concept of time and are completely focused on your next meal, where your shelter will come from, and whether your children have enough water to survive the day.
Your focus is on survival.
Odette came to work the very first day of her employment and, to everyone’s surprise, delivered her baby the very next. So many beautiful blessings can be learned from Odette’s story. Once she was identified by True Vineyard Ministries as being in need, she was provided with shelter for her family. Once she was employed, she knew the life of stability—she earned a fair wage with which she could provide food for her entire family. Because True Vineyard Ministries pays all education-related fees, Odette’s children were able to attend school. Odette now knows she is in control of her family and her future.
Perhaps the greatest blessing of Odette’s story has been watching her baby grow. She named the baby Diana in honor of the founder of True Vineyard Ministries, Diana Wiley. Since baby Diana was born during the first year of the True Vineyard Ministries program, we now have a beautiful benchmark for the years of success of the True Vineyard Ministries program. Diana is now a thriving 11-year-old girl. And, in her eleven years, Diana has never known what it is like to go through a day hungry. She has never known what it is like to go without education. She has never been forced to hide under her mother’s skirt to escape a leaky roof.
She is living, breathing evidence of what it looks like when the poverty cycle is shattered. We are so blessed to be able to directly see the effect on an individual life through the benefits of the True Vineyard Ministries program.
Photo credit--Abbey Henderson
Please help us to say a big “Happy 11th Birthday” to baby Diana today.
In a remote village in Central Madagascar, a cooperative of 300 women, practice the art of silk weavingaz.
For four generations, these artisans have refined their craft. Traditionally, silk weaving techniques were used in the making of woven burial shrouds. Now these artisans are using this traditional technique to create exquisite handcrafted scarfs.
Craft artisans begin by harvesting live silkworms.
The silkworms spin a cocoon and the worms become a silkmoth. The silkmoths lay eggs that are used to harvest new silkworms.
Once the silkmoth leaves the cocoon, the silk cocoons are collected. Silk cocoons are then placed in a boiling pot of water to extract the silk fibers from within.
Natural silk fiber is then handspun by women artisans to produce silk thread.
The handspun silk thread is then dyed using natural plants, bark, berries, and synthetic extracts. Colors are enhanced and set by rubbing ashes into the fiber. The silk thread is then rinsed and dried for use.
Lastly, on a floor loom, women artisans weave each scarf one fiber at a time. The weaving of one scarf is a lengthy process taking up to a week to produce each hand woven scarf.
These finished 100% silk woven scarfs are as beautiful as the women who make them. Find these scarfs in a variety of colors in-store or online at www.vineyardmarketplace.org.
#shopforgood #silk #silkscarf #fashion #beautiful #artisan #handmade#fairtrade #Africa #Madagascar #philanthropy #socialbusiness#mothersday #dogood #organic #art #handspun
Madagascar is known for it’s beautiful geographical typography and the only place where many species of God’s creation dwell. If you have never been to Madagascar, your mind might be filled with images of rainforests, waterfalls, and lemurs.
At True Vineyard Ministries, our minds are filled with Madagascar’s people where 9 out of every 10 people live below the poverty line, surviving on less than $2 per day. We know, all too well, this country where 48% of the population is uneducated and under the age of 14. It is a staggering reality which forces many Malagasy people into crimes of desperation, often selling their own daughters into sex slavery. On the streets of Antananarivo, the capital city, live thousands of homeless street children, including prostitutes who are mere teenaged girls. It is a disturbing and harsh reality for much of Madagascar’s youth. This is the real Madagascar and the one, we at True Vineyard, believe matters most to the heart of God.
In 2010 True Vineyard Ministries began seeking Malagasy women to support through our fair trade store, Vineyard Marketplace. Unfortunately, it was a huge challenge to locate artisan cooperatives in Madagascar like those we found in other parts of Africa. The lack of these organized groups directed our path to the very crowded Andravoangy Market, in the heart of Antananarivo. This is where we met Tentely, a highly motivated and organized 28-year old seamstress and mother, with an eye for designing little girl’s smocked dresses. She and three other adult family members, create precious dresses for Vineyard Marketplace..
On our earlier trips, we would purchase 15 or 20 dresses from Tentely, which was great, considering she normally sold 3 or 4 dresses on a “good” week. As her dresses became more popular among our customers, our orders have grown steadily. She is always happy and grateful for this continuing partnership that has literally changed the life of her entire family.
Last year, our efforts focused on moving the Vineyard Marketplace to its current location and developing our online store. This meant having duplicate dresses of the same style in various sizes. Through many coordinated efforts to translate phone calls and emails, we were able to place the first really large order for Tentely, preordering more than 200 dresses at one time. She met all of our expectations and again, just last month, we picked up an order of 330 new dresses!
Because of the divine introduction we had to this courageous girl with a genuine talent for business, we have witnessed Tentely empowered over the past several years. She has become a young woman full of energy and ideas for creating a higher quality dresses for Vineyard Marketplace. Please consider supporting Tentely and True Vineyard Ministries through the purchase of one of these precious dresses for your favorite little princess. All styles and sizes now available online.
Kick-off you’re Christmas shopping in style next Tuesday night from 5:30p-9p at Vineyard Marketplace! Bring your shopping list and enjoy festive music, food, and of course “shop for good”!
It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas around here! Christmas elves have been busily working to bring you the latest handmade gifts from 11 different African countries. You will find one of a kind nativities from Kenya, Rwanda, and Madagascar. Our trees have been decorated with beautifully handmade ornaments from artisans working in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda. You must stop by the store and see all the new merchandise arriving at Vineyard Marketplace.
We have a large array of gift giving ideas for the special people on your shopping list. From up cycled bullet bead jewelry to olivewood kitchenware and Rwandan coffee, you are sure to find the most unique gifts as you #giftforgood at Vineyard Marketplace this holiday season.
We look forward to seeing you in the store this Christmas season!
It is such an exciting time at Vineyard Marketplace. Not only have we just announced the revamp of a new online marketplace but, we are transitioning from our San Antonio Street location to a new store location on IH-35, exit 200. Vineyard Marketplace's new home will be behind Centerpoint Station directly across from Starbucks Coffee on Centerpoint Rd. We will be opening the new location in mid August. Stay tuned for more information regarding our grand opening celebration!
We thank you for your continued prayers and support as we transition these next few months!