Basket weavers break language barrier

Nine women grouped under an association Dufatanye mu Mahoro, in Muko Sector, Musanze District, are all smiles as they now communicate in English to visiting tourists while transacting business.  The group specialises in the traditional basket weaving as well as making banana beer and have over 150 baskets in stock.
Members of Dufatanye mu Mahoro pose with their baskets after completing their English learning programme The New Times / Courtesy
Members of Dufatanye mu Mahoro pose with their baskets after completing their English learning programme The New Times / Courtesy

Nine women grouped under an association Dufatanye mu Mahoro, in Muko Sector, Musanze District, are all smiles as they now communicate in English to visiting tourists while transacting business.

The group specialises in the traditional basket weaving as well as making banana beer and have over 150 baskets in stock.

To visiting tourists interested in learning about Rwandan culture, the association, supported by Amahoro Tours, also teaches them how to weave baskets and make banana beer.

“It’s our source of income; I have managed to buy a Friesian cow out of my business and manage to fend for my family.  I no longer need a translator to communicate with tourists on basket prices, we have learnt English,’’ said Bertha Ntawangakaje, the president of the association.

According to Greg Bakunzi, head of Amahoro Tours, the initiative is part of efforts to promote community based tourism, and helps rural women enhance their economic status.

The members say they embarked on learning English to break the language barrier and avoid looking for translators to communicate to their clients.

“We can speak basic English to our clients. We need a market for all these products, Veronica Nyirandekeyaho, said adding that business premises still posed a challenge.

Heather Bing and Meghan Costello, from the US Peace Corps are volunteers living in small communities, who offered to teach English lessons to help the rural women in selling their crafts.

According to the volunteers, the project is rewarding in several ways, particularly seeing the joy of women with a drive to improve their association through creation of a stronger bond with their visitors through the English language.

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