About Us

Dufashanye Craft Group

The Craft Group is made up of 12 ladies who are survivors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. They are all widows or orphans of this atrocious event in history. These women formed a close-knit co-operative, selling handmade crafts as a means of income. Through Comfort International and our local partners, Good News International, the group became more than just a business, but through words of comfort, love and care, hearts and scars began to heal. They receive regular visits from groups in Scotland and are now able to sell their wonderful crafts throughout the world.

Telling their stories has been a very important part of the healing process for the women on this project. As a group, they have shared the past horrors, present joys and future hopes with us.

How did the genocide affect your ability to work?

After the Genocide the situation was very difficult for all of us. The emotional and physical wounds were very raw and we could only spend all our time thinking about our lost families. We had no time to think about work. As you know, you work when you have hope for the future. For us, we had no hope. We were even complaining to God, asking why we survived, because we felt useless without our families. For that reason, we could not work at all. The other reason we could not work was that we had nothing to start with. All our belongings were taken away, our houses were destroyed, we had nowhere to stay, that’s how all of us came to Kigali, because during the genocide we were not living in Kigali. So it was a difficult situation for us. We didn’t want to stay in the same place where our families were killed.

How did you become involved with the craft group?

After a few years, we realized that we had no choice. We had to start working, as some of us had the orphans and other family members to take care of, and we also had to pay rent. There were a few of us who already knew each other, so they met and started discussing what they could do. One of them had some skills for making crafts like baskets and necklaces, so she encouraged others and they started learning to make crafts. They joined other people who were making and selling crafts so they learned to make many other things. After that they started recruiting others until we formed a group of 12 ladies. We were making a few things and selling them locally until we met Callum and we started our growth.

What has the group done for you as individuals and as a group?

For individuals, the group became a new family after we lost our families. We became sisters. As a group, together we built the capacity of working together and learning to make things. The group also helped in the healing process.

How much does your faith play a part in this process?

Our faith has grown in the process. During the time we were complaining to God about what happened to us, the time when we were feeling that we are abandoned by the whole world, that’s the time we got friends from Scotland who comforted us a lot. They prayed for us, they told us the word of God and it helped us to grow our faith very much.

What are the benefits of being supported by Comfort International?

There is a big benefit in terms of our emotional, spiritual, and physical growth. We have talked about emotional and spiritual growth in previous questions. Practically, some of us were able to get money and buy houses for our families. We were able to pay school fees for our children. Today we are able to support others. We are very proud of that and it is all through the supports of Comfort International and many friends we got from Scotland.

How have things changed over the last 20 years?

Things changed a lot over the last 20 years. We had no families, now we have families all over the world. We were very poor, now we support others, we were hopeless, and now have hope in our lives. We were taking care of orphans, now they have grown and married, we have daughters and sons-in-law and grandchildren. In a few words, we can’t complain about anything.

How do you see the future in terms of your faith and making the crafts?

In the future, we want to keep our faith growing because we believe everything we achieved was only by the help of God. In terms of making crafts, we want to keep our standard high. We also want to keep learning new things because in this area of crafts, things change a lot.

Comfort International is proud to be a member of BAFTS. BAFTS Fair Trade Network UK is a network of independent shops and suppliers dedicated to promoting Fair Trade retail in the UK. BAFTS provides a structure of accountability to its members who adhere to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as set out by the World Fair Trade Organisaton (WFTO). BAFTS works with UK-based independent shops and suppliers who partner with disadvantaged producer groups. BAFTS offers a way that they can have their commitment to Fair Trade recognised and be a part of the wider Fair Trade movement and community. 

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