Women in colourful dresses sitting at colourful sewing machines are sewing colourful things out of colourful fabrics: shoulder bags, pot holders, children’s clothes, dolls, purses, slippers.
We are being welcomed cheerfully. Yoga instructor Nassim (who lost one of her legs in a traffic accident, see our post Kigali Day 2) also works here. While assistants are inflating the gym balls, I demonstrate in a mini skeleton model where to find the sit bones. Afterwards, I turn my back on the women showing them what it looks like making your sit bones dance. Hearty laughter all around. One of the women, Fanny, rushes up to me. She tries to feel my sit bones and asks me to tell her whether she is right. Within seconds, the other women imitate what we are doing, instructing one another.
Nassim does a great exercise for pelvis mobilisation Deirdre has invented. Eventually, the gym balls are ready. The women rush up to them grasping them, everybody happily bouncing about. They are having fun, definitely!
I instruct CANTIENICA® partner exercises, with Nassim translating what I say. The sit bones are the champions of the day; Deirdre has done an excellent preparation, it seems. Faize who had been sitting hunched up in a corner when the lesson started, now cannot get enough. She is laughing and calling my name just as she seems to have grasped it phonetically, sounding quite French to my ears. (And, to be honest, “Faize” is only the spelling of what I took to be her name.) She asks me to straighten her position. “She has been severely bruised and scarred by machete cuts. In fact, she hardly can move at all,” Deirdre explains. “All the women here are rape victims; some of them were forced to watch their families being killed before being raped themselves.” Her eyes are filling with tears.
I feel very grateful for attending the lesson. Being part of it, experiencing what is happening here touches and moves me. I buy a very colourful shoulder bag, pot holders, another bag and some other smaller things. Meanwhile, the women have resumed working. Passing the sewing room I am being applauded quite thunderously.
In the meantime, some 60 people have gathered in the cooperative’s courtyard waiting for free corn gruel to be served.
Seeing each and everyone having a mobile phone puzzles me a bit. “Well, that’s Africa, too,” Deirdre says, “I, too, had to get used to the fact of people here having mobiles and email at the expense of going hungry even more.”
NB: It is Fred-Marc’s birthday today, and we are celebrating with physalis and beer, the physalis being out of this world, really.