Resource: On the outskirts of Kigali there is a school for marginalized women. This school teaches prostitutes, single mothers, dropouts, and others how to read and sew. The goal of this school is to give the women skills they need to make an honest living for themselves and their family.

Downfall: The women who learn at this school are taught on sewing machines, and all materials are provided for them. When the women graduate from this school they are put back on the street. The graduating class of last year has been trying to save money to purchase fabric and a sewing machine. Almost a full year has gone by and they are still waiting to use their new skills.

Idea: find a way for women to use their skills and produce a product to sell without having to spend much money up front. (a sewing machine costs 60,000 franc they can afford about 3,000 each estimate)

Potential solution: Garbage Batik

Today I went to the market with the intent of collecting what other people throw away. Rwanda is a very poor country, and poor countries in general are very resourceful so I didn’t find a whole lot. But what I did find was perfect

Free Things fount at the market

Banana Stems: 4” diameter 3’ long soft fibrous wood like structure I will use to carve in to stamps for dipped wax

Seeds of Tree Tomato: Dark red-ish seeds when mashed and mixed with salt and hot water should make some good red dye

Beet Stems (Some with beet attached!): mashed with salt to make purple and green dye

Grass clippings: mashed for green dye

Bottle Caps and Pull Tabs: will use for stamping hot wax

Tin Cans: will wash and use for melting wax in

Broken candle ends: Wax! (I also brought some canning wax with me from the states, just incase)

Things I had to buy

Paint brush: 500franc for 1

Tea: ¼ kilo 200franc

Coffee: ¼ kilo 200

Plain Fabric: 1500 franc/meter

Salt: ¼ Kilo 50 franc

Tumric and Curry powder: 50 franc / packet

Full Beets: 300 franc

Total Cost:  2,800 franc or $4.68USD and I have enough supplies to make at least 4 or 5 full size batiks. At the market, a 12”x12” batik sells for 10,000 – 16,000 franc depending on the complexity. I am estimating a relatively basic batik done by a beginner can sell for 5,500 minimum.

Tonight I will be sampling dyes, testing designs and carving banana stems and convincing our house girls that I am not crazy. I will post samples of finished products as soon as they are complete. Wish me luck.


About globalmargaret

I am a Mid-Western college graduate who signed a contract on a whim last April. The contract took me to Nome, Alaska where I presently live and work. I love nature, hiking, good food, music, ukulele, knitting, sewing, anything creative, and just being still

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