Monday, March 18, 2013

Rwanda: No. 41

In Gisenyi, just down the street from the Noel Orphanage, there is an awesome thing happening.

Taken from the No. 41 website, here's a little blurb that tells what this group of women is and what they are doing for themselves and for others:

No. 41 started on a whim and a prayer in March 2012, with the intent of teaching young women from the Noel Orphanage in Gisenyi, Rwanda (ages 18-25) not only to sew, a culturally relevant trade that would always sustain them, but to give back to their community through a feeding program supporting local schools.
The first No.41 bag (for one child, for one meal, for one year) was sold in May 2012 and today No.41 employs 21 women from the orphanage, as well as 11 from the surrounding village. We have 9 mamas better providing for their 13 children and 17 of our young women are now enrolled in university.
No. 41 is about empowering young women. Our goal is not to give them the world, but to show them that God has already given them everything they need to go out there and take it. When you join with us, you are truly changing the world FOR ONE.

I was so blessed to visit No. 41 in person.  I saw their fabulous merchandise including their famous burlap "41" bags.  I stocked up on a few souvenirs!  And more importantly, I got to meet and visit with some of the young women who are attending University while working as seamstresses for No. 41.  

The purchase of a No. 41 bag like these provides one meal a day for one child for one year.  Pretty amazing, huh?  Why not buy one?

What was really cool, though, was when I pulled out the fabric oven mitts I had just purchased to show the girls I was chatting with and they all exclaimed "Valentine made those!"  Sure enough, Valentine was one of the lovely women I had been getting to know, and she graciously allowed me to take her picture with my newly acquired souvenir.

All of this came into being because one young woman from the US visited Rwanda then suddenly decided to move there.  She had this vision, this bold dream of action, and actually went and started it.  So the next time anyone is tempted to think that one person can't really make a difference, let No. 41 remind us of the truth.

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