Ruhango District, Southern Province
One of my favorite things to do in the afternoon is to go to Mpanda village and basket weave. I have been going to the home of Mama Deline since last October to visit and converse over brightly colored thread, needles, and ibyatsi—long, dried strands of grass. We sit on straw mats against her compound’s wall and share our daily goings-on with one another, as well as with her two daughters, Lucy (age 11) and Deline (age 5). As we weave together, Deline may spontaneously erupt into laughter, or Lucy will look up at me, smile shyly, and return to her basket.
Sometimes, neighbors will join us, proudly weaving and joyfully discussing any and all topics. Which, of course, is the best part of these afternoons: sitting back and listening to a mother, her friends, and her daughters talk amongst themselves. It is a beautiful thing, to see love and friendship flowing between them in the form of conversation. There is a strong bond created over this activity, and it is by no means secondary to the income generated through the selling of the baskets. I admire these women for their talent and their camaraderie; they use their skills to build relationships AND to build their fortunes and lives.
Mama Deline, her children, and her neighbors are affecting positive change in this community through a most simple, and artful way. Together they form healthy relationships and earn the respect of their peers and husbands for their ability to basket-weave. I am so grateful to be a part of this pastime with these empowered ladies.