A basket is not just a basket

I’m sure I’m not the only bleeding heart conservative out there. But the fact of the matter is that I would like to make a difference in the world out there. I’m sure many of you feel that way too. But we’re faced with the same old objections.

I can’t make a difference.

I don’t have money to donate.

It’s just too big. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the nonprofit and charity space and here’s what I can tell you. You can make a difference, often in ways you don’t expect. You can contribute in ways other than donations. And yes, it is too big. Too big for one person to fix everything. And one person isn’t meant to fix everything. We can only do what we can do.

So I pick and choose ideas and causes and charities that speak to me, the Heart of Haiti program being one of them. I’ve written about the program a few times. In case you don’t know, it’s a retail a partnership with Fairwinds Trading and Macy’s to bring Haitian artisan work to the mainstream. And it’s making a difference in their lives.

When the opportunity arose to review a similar program, Rwanda Path to Peace, I jumped at the chance.

I haven’t always been the most worldly person and many years ago I watched the movie, “Hotel Rwanda.” I’m ashamed to admit that it was the first time I had knowledge of the horrific genocide in Rwanda that occurred in 1994, killing 800,000 people. Yes, it took a Hollywood movie to get me to pay attention to world affairs.

(Side note: It’s one of my very favorite movie and Don Cheadle is excellent in the film.)

Rwanda. A devastated country over an ocean away. What can I do to help?

What I’ve learned is that Rwandans, especially Rwandan women, are extremely resilient. Choosing to make a better life for themselves and their daughters instead of wallowing in grief. The Rwanda Path to Peace program is something that has been seven years in the making and is just starting to come to fruition.

These Rwandan women have an amazing talent and skill for basket weaving. And Macy’s has helped bring their product to market.

But it’s just a basket. Does it really make a difference?

Having a market for these baskets has given these women not only sustainable income but also a sense of pride. And it’s making a better life for Rwandans.

A quick example…

A mother wants to send her daughter to school so that she can gain an education and live a better life.

When the daughter is of age, she starts to menstruate.

The mother can’t afford to buy her daughter feminine hygiene products and the daughter is unable to go to school.

Sound preposterous? It’s totally not. It’s a real scenario. And that’s how a little money towards a beautiful basket can put money in a mother’s pocket and help change generations to come.

To date, Rwanda Path to Peace project and the income it generates has improved the lives of at least 18,000 children.

Now for the ask…

Next time you need to buy a housewarming gift, or something for your boss, or a present for your mother-in-law who literally has everything, take a moment to buy something that provides you with something beautiful and makes a real difference in someone’s life.

I know, I know. It’s a big post for a little basket. But it’s time to stop thinking the world is too big. Women are the changemakers and the more we can do to support them, the more we can all make the world a better place.

Read more about the amazing woman working behind the scenes on many of the Fairwinds Trading projects. I interviewed Willa Shalit and she’ll hopefully inspire you as much as she’s inspired me.

Disclosure: I was provided a Fair Winds Trading Harvest Sun Fruit Basket from Rwanda for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own but it should be pretty obvious what a fan I am of these beautiful (and functional) pieces of art.