In ABFEK,Action Kivu,Basket Making,Congo,DRC,Mumosho Women's Center,Vocational Training

Women Who Weave: A Bigger Market for Handmade Baskets When Congo Bans Plastic Bags

 

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The girls and women step inside the Mumosho Women’s Center, take off their flip-flops, set their kids down on the floor to play, and gather up handfuls of colorful bright rope.  They watch and follow along to the basket-making teacher’s advice, weaving the rope into gorgeous baskets to sell at the local market and in their villages.  For half a year, a class of women come together three days a week to learn the art of basket-making and marketing, so that, like graduate Chantal (pictured below), they can sell their art, and earn income to feed their families and send their kids to school.  Depending on the size of the basket, they sell from $3 to $8 dollars a piece.

basket making collage

Many people agree, plastic bags are the bane of our modern existence.  While convenient, they are not only unappealing when they escape to get caught in trees or stuck in gutters, but they are terrible for the environment: According to a 2014 report from the Earth Policy Institute, “worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. Usage varies widely among countries, from over 400 a year for many East Europeans, to just four a year for people in Denmark and Finland. Plastic bags, made of depletable natural gas or petroleum resources, are often used only for a matter of minutes. Yet they last in the environment for hundreds of years, shredding into ever-smaller pieces but never fully breaking down.”

The government in Congo banned the use of plastic bags, and when that law takes effect, it will mean even more need for and better sales of these beautiful baskets!

Chantal, a basket making graduate, successfully sells her work to help support her family.

Chantal, a graduate of our basket making training program, successfully sells her work to help support her family.

Read more about our work on our blog, and consider a monthly donation to partner with the women in our vocational training programs in Congo, from basket-making to sewing to literacy classes, your dollars make a difference, giving hope and empowering the girls and women with the means to change their lives.

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