Hallelujah, Spring has sprung!! The trees are turning green, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and March is rolling on out like a lamb. That means Easter is right around the corner, and it just so happens that I have the perfect way for you to decorate your home with bright and cheerful color!
Today I’m so humbled to tell you all about The Sparrow Studio in Kigali, Rwanda. They handcraft gorgeous paper bead garland, Easter egg ornaments, earrings, scarves, and other beautiful things!
One of my fellow Noonday Collection ambassadors, Annie, helped get this co-op of 35 women off the ground and flying strong. Annie has a kind and generous heart, and a passion for providing hope to some very special women.
Before I highlight their beautiful work, I want to give you some background. I’m a story person: I love to hear stories and tell stories, and know the story behind the things that I buy. This particular one is tough to tell, but so important. But don’t worry, it has a happy ending!
As you may remember, Rwanda was the site of a horrific genocide in 1994. Anyone in Rwanda today over the age of 20 is a survivor of this conflict, and they live with daily reminders of those who were lost. There were 10 times as many widows as widowers among survivors, and many of them have children to look after. Jobs, especially for females, are scarce in Rwanda, and the hard truth is that many women turn to prostitution to earn money just to feed their kids.
I don’t know about you, but this absolutely breaks my heart. I’m guessing many of our readers are moms, and if you are, can you imagine just for a minute the sight of your child starving? What depths would you descend to make sure they lived another day?
Annie broke down the math for me in a way that was easy to understand:
The average wage per day in Rwanda is about 1000 Rwandan francs (RWF) = $1.50
A living wage, just the basics- rent for a 1 bedroom home, school fees for 1 child, and food = $3.50
The ladies sell their bodies for about $.80 per trick.
You can do the math. Even with a normal, average job, it’s nearly impossible to provide for just 1 child. But even worse, how many times would a woman have to sell herself to make sure her family survived?? This is the reality that these 35 women in Kigali (and countless others!) live with every day.
BUT… and this is where The Sparrow Studio comes in…
With the sale of just one paper bead garland, the women can make about 1000 RWF or $1.50!
If they can sell 3 items per day through their work at the co-op, they are making over a living wage to care for 1 child! And not only that, they have a way out of a situation that is inherent with shame, contempt from their peers, low self-worth, exposure to HIV and other diseases, and an endless cycle of crippling poverty.
But what is so wonderful is how this co-operative provides more than just a job to these ladies. They gather together for literacy, business, and English classes, weekly devotions, and sewing lessons. They pray together and sing together.
I love how Annie says so beautifully:
These women are worth our time, our financial investment, and the best of our creative energies. We love them because God first loved us.
Now that’s a redemption story worth sharing! And how appropriate to spread the word about this amazing co-operative right before Easter! Just like our sisters in Rwanda, we are wandering in the darkness, without hope and desperate for love and mercy and a future. And in walks God’s great love, in the form of his son Jesus, to rescue us and pull us out of the depths! What joy!!
And now, without further adieu, I want to show off some of these lovely things:
This is my very own paper bead garland from The Sparrow Studio. It comes with these handy little clasps so you can keep it as a loop (like on my kitchen chandelier) or as a long strand (on my mantel). You can even use the clasp to attach it to other strands of garlands to customize the length!
The garland is only $8-$14 and comes in lots of different colors. (You can see all of the options here)
So many possibilities for how you can decorate with it! These are some ideas from the website:
I also bought these wonderful Easter egg ornaments to hang on our Easter tree (a treasure I stole from my mom’s house):
See what I mean? Beautiful things with a beautiful story! And a perfect way to “feather you nest” with hope this Easter!
In style & love,