Indego Africa: Social change through African handicrafts

By | May 21, 2013 | Home Decoration & Organizing

Indego Africa: Social change through African handicrafts




As Moms, we can all appreciate the work that it takes to raise a family. Imagine trying to take care of your family with all the odds stacked against you. In the United States, we have so many privileges – some of which we take for granted. We are afforded opportunities to live in safe and adequate housing, obtain an education, eat healthy food (or even just eat, period), develop careers, receive medical care and even watch television, drink wine, go on vacation.

We’re pretty spoiled here in the United States. We were born into an industrialized country, and in my opinion, the most amazing country in the world. I’m not trying to make you puke as I wax patriotic, but I am trying to make a point. If you had been born in the Middle East or in certain parts of Africa or Asia, your life as a Mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend would be quite different.

Imagine that you have to:

  • Feed your children and manage your household on less than $2 per day.
  • Figure out what to do when you and your family run out of food.
  • Bring in water for all your eating, drinking, bathing and cleaning needs, because you don’t have running water in your home.
  • Live without electricity, telephone, or medical care.

Quite honestly, I’m in awe of women around the world who face such incredible challenges and work so hard to take care of themselves and their families. One organization that helps such women in Rwanda is Indego Africa.

Indego Africa empowers women by providing opportunities in difficult circumstances to not only meet their families’ basic needs, but also acquire skills to achieve a long-term, sustainable income. Their business model also involves teaching women to be fiscally responsible, community contributors, and profitable export business owners. And when women feel hopeful, confident, productive, proud, and worthy, they can pass those strengths onto their children and change their families, communities, country and world.

Indego Africa Woven Banana Boxes | The Momiverse

I received a set of three Woven Banana Boxes. My mom is from Vietnam and banana leaves are such a big part of the Vietnamese landscape, culture and food. Although these boxes were handcrafted on a completely different continent, I love that they remind me of my own Mom – one of the strongest and most generous women I know. These baskets help me organize a room, but they also provide a raw, organic texture in my family room which has lots of rock and tile. The shades of brown are warm, deep and rich.

I learned that these beautiful banana boxes were created by the Twiyubake Family, a banana leaf weaving co-op of 28 members located in Kayonza. The Twiyubake Family consists of genocide widows working side-by-side with the wives of imprisoned génocidaires who killed their families.  Can you imagine what these women have experienced in their lives?  The women of Twiyubake previously had no access to running water, let alone market opportunities, and a majority of its members were illiterate.

Indego Africa Product Tags | The Momiverse

Each product tag features the name and signature of the artisan who made each individual product. Every time I see or open my banana boxes, I think of the woman who made my baskets. She doesn’t know me, but she’s helped me to be more grateful.

I’m not a very crafty gal, so I have a great appreciation for anyone with the skills to create art. The artisans featured through Indego Africa provide beautifully, hand-crafted products. If you’re looking for a unique bag, clothing, jewelry or other accessory – for yourself or as a gift – I encourage you to check out the collections of works designed by the talented craftswomen of Rwanda.

Indego Africa wants us to look good while doing good. Help support a community of Moms across the world by shopping or donating at

In partnership with Women Online and The Mission List, Indego Africa has provided Momiverse Media Group, LLC with free product to help with preparing this article, but anything we receive from Indego Africa does not affect our thoughts on its organization, programs, or products.

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Charmin Calamaris

Charmin is a wife, mom of two boys and creator of the Momiverse. The Momiverse is an online magazine for busy moms (is there any other kind?) dedicated to helping moms make time – and take time – for themselves. She traded in her career in land use planning and environmental policy to become Chief Executive Navigator of the Momiverse. You can connect with Charmin in her "online office" on Twitter or Facebook.

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