Trip to Basket Island
A few days before we left Rwanda we took a small boat across one of the hundreds of inlets¹ along the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu over to see a project that a local church had started. It is a small group of women – most of whom are widows, or un/under-employed.
The women sit together in the church, woven mats on the concrete floor, surrounded by small piles of grass – churning out long braided cords which then get turned into baskets. The baskets get sold, and the women are able to earn some modest income for themselves and their families.
They were incredibly patient with all of us and our kids, showing them how to complete the weave – which is apparently much more complicated than it looks. From a glance it appears that they are basically braiding the grass – but it was much more of an intricate pattern which involves adding a new strand once every time the pattern is completed.
Once we had finished our time ‘helping’ them weave – they set out a snack for us, and then without us really realizing it, helped carry the smaller kids back down the hill. It has been constantly amazing – and humbling – to see so many times the ways which people who look like they have so little – extending generosity and hospitality.
We took our boat back across the lake – watching fishermen in boats, animals drinking, and the occasional person fetching water.
¹ The fact that we actually travelled to a peninsula – and not an island is immaterial to the core of this story. But “Basket Peninsula” just doesn’t’ have a nice ring to it.