DuHope has been built on a model of selling handmade products and donor partnerships. In the last few weeks, we have had to close our workshop and retail shop in Rwanda due to the countrywide mandatory lock down beginning on 21 March and have seen our US sales declining due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Approximately 40% of our income has dropped in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Our Concerns for our Artisans
Many of our women face gender-based violence or intimate partner violence where they are living with their abusers on a daily basis. We are deeply concerned that the confinement from lock down will escalate this violence for our women and their children.
All of our women live in housing shared with other families, so they may have their own space, but their toilet and kitchen area is shared by many. When they were able to come into our office, we felt it was a safer, cleaner, and more controlled environment. They also had access to clean drinking water and running water to wash their hands often. We taught the women how to make a bleach/soapy water mixture and provided the supplies to take them home for extra protection.
Some of our women who are HIV positive are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, so limiting their exposure is our highest priority.
And finally, our women get paid on a weekly basis based on how many pieces they produce. If they aren’t able to come to work, then they will be forced into finding more dangerous alternative means to provide for themselves and their children.
We have committed to paying our artisans during the initial two week lock down in Rwanda, but we depend on the sales of our products and donor funds to keep DuHope open. If our women can’t work and people aren’t buying, then we are losing a huge chunk of our income that we depend on.
How you can help:
We are having to make staff salary cuts this month. As in the African community fashion, the team decided to make cuts to everyone's salaries so that no one person will be left without something.
"Turi Kumwe" in Kinyarwanda means "We are Together"
Please be praying over the concerns we have above, as we feel helpless to intervene and lack the ability to walk alongside our women during this time. We are checking in to make sure their basic needs are met while they are receiving their normal pay, but we need to have the ability to continue to support them financially, as well as our staff.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.