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The Azizi Life Experience in Rwanda

Situated just off the Kigali – Huye road alongside the Presbyterian Church, Azizi Life is a small local export business dedicated to supporting artisans by providing them with fair wages, market connections, and resources for developing their art, business, faith and life as a whole. Azizi is a Swahili word that means precious, treasured, or excellent and it is our belief that every person’s life is Azizi. It works with about 25 different associations and co-operatives in the south of Rwanda and has a variety of their handcrafts on sale in the on-site shop.

Azizi life experience is a flagship social enterprise is focused on maximizing economic opportunity for rural artisans through the development and promotion of crafts. It also now offers village visits designed to connect visitors with rural Rwanda, by joining in with local artisans and their families doing seasonal agricultural activities, sharing a midday meal, and learning to make banana juice, build a traditional home, or weave a simple object in sisal, all with expert tuition.

Through a range of different cultural experience days, you get to not only see something of the beauty and rigor of daily life, but also experience it. It’s a truly interactive way to learn about Rwandan culture.

Location

By car: As you approach Muhanga, look out for the big church of St Andre on a hill to your left.  Just after this is the prison, its entrance tucked back from the road.  After 30 metres there is a tar road forking off to your right; ignore this.  Keep going on the main tar road.  Look out for a FHI sign on your right 50 metres past the fork.  Just after this is a Presbyterian Church on the right.  30 metres further on the left hand-side of the road you will see the Azizi Life sign.  At the sign turn right up a mud road and our brown gates are a few metres up the track on the left.

Artisan partners

They are parents and grandparents, they are farmers, they are friends, and they are role models. They laugh and bring laughter; they cry and comfort those around them; they live life and impact their communities in a unique way. These groups of remarkable women and men are supporting and coaching one another in their craft and in their lives as a whole. They have become our friends and partners, and it is our pleasure to introduce them to you here.

Azizi Life partners with over 25 independent groups in Rwanda – over 400 artisans 5azsand growing! Rising from the horrors of genocide, artisans from all backgrounds have joined together once again through their art. With their fair trade income, parents are caring for the health, nutrition, and education of their children. Families are building better homes.

Women are rising out of crippling dependency to become contributors in their communities. Our artisan partners have a vision to be leaders for wholeness in their community, and we are privileged to partner with them.

While on your Rwanda tours in Muhanga visit to the Azizi Life Experience that offers a range of products skilfully crafted from locally-sourced, natural fibers such as sisal, banana leaf, and forest grasses. Our line of baskets highlights some of the best of Rwandan traditional and modern design. Artisans and designers collaborate to create new designs and products in our lines of baskets, home goods, and holiday décor.

A Day in the Life of Artisans

The Azizi Life Experience morning begins with a drive to a nearby village, where you and your Azizi Life interpreter will be welcomed by the ladies of the weaving cooperative.

After introductions from your hostess, a morning of family chores begins. You might help out in the kitchen, collect water from the valley spring, cut grass for the farm animals and get out in the fields for a seasonal agricultural activity.

At noontime, you’ll share a simple local meal with your host family, with plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. After lunch, you will join with the artisan cooperative for an afternoon of weaving. You will learn how to harvest and prepare the natural fibers, and then the artisans will teach you how to create your own piece of sisal jewelry. You will love sitting with the ladies as you weave and laugh together.

The day finishes back at the Azizi Life office, with a cold Fanta and a chance to think back over the highlights of the day. There you can browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by the Azizi Life artisans and do a little fair trade shopping. This Experience starts from Azizi Life’s office & boutique in Muhanga Town (about a one hour drive from Kigali).

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