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Kwizera Cooperative

Muhanga District, Rwanda

The vibrance that this group of women radiates is unparalleled. Nestled in the district of Muhanga, Odette, the striking woman wearing a blue and yellow dress in the picture above, has been the leader of the co-op for nearly 10 years. The woman all live within walking distance of one another, and often work together, rotating the location of the weaving sessions between various homes.

Given our curiosity around the raw materials used to weave, the group gave us an inside look on how their sisal is sourced. With machete in hand, Marcelline walked to the front of the yard to a large agave plant (turns out it is used for more than just tequila!). She cut an arm of the plant off and used the machete to thinly peel back the outer green skin, allowing thin white fibers to appear. This fiber, known as sisal, is what the women use to dye and then weave. Or occasionally, it is left undyed, as in parts of our Zera Bowl, and the raw white fiber stands on its own.

Before we left, we peeked in the home to watch the art of the weave. There was soft music playing in the background, and Clementine's baby boy, Obed, was being passed around for others to hold. The women sat gracefully on the floor, with backs up against the wall and their legs out, weaving in unison.