One of my favorite family traditions is adding a new ornament to our tree each year. I have many that are special to me such as "Our First Christmas Together", "My Favorite Teacher", and "Baby's First Christmas". Some of the most precious ones are ornaments that former students either made or gave to me as well as the ones for my children's birth years. I love the way their eyes light up as they place their special birth year ornament on the tree and we talk about the day they were born. I don't have any ornaments from when I was growing up, so I want my girls to have some special keepsakes for them to cherish and continue our family tradition with their own children.
This year, we are adding a special Limited Edition 2016 Year of Peace Rwanda Gold ornament from Macy's Gifts That Give Hope line to our tree. This beautiful hand woven basket was inspired by traditional Rwandan design using centuries old techniques. It has an attached ribbon with the year stamped on it in gold. The top also lifts off, which is unique. (I love this idea from Fadra at All Things Fadra of turning it into a special time capsule that stores some of the year's memories)
It is not just a pretty piece of art to decorate our tree, or even an inspiring message of peace and hope in a world that desperately needs it right now. It is a means of sustainable income for those in need in Rwanda.
When you purchase this ornament as a gift for the holidays at Macy's, you are supporting a sustainable trade-not-aid program where women are able to provide for their families.
I love gifts that give back, and this simple ornament gives you the opportunity to truly make a difference.
If you're not familiar with the crisis in Rwanda, please take a minute to read the background behind the Rwanda Path to Peace program:
In 1994, we in America were totally unaware that a mass slaughter was taking place in Rwanda, a tiny country in the heart of Africa. In just three months, nearly a million people – 20% of the nation’s population – were massacred when tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis turned into ethnic slaughter. Neighbors killed each other in one of the worst genocides in human history.
After the violence ended, many Rwandan women found themselves thrust into the unfamiliar role of being the sole breadwinner for their families, since their husbands, fathers and sons had been killed. Others saw their husbands jailed for committing unspeakable atrocities.
Despite this savage history, Rwanda today is a country of both hope and faith. Even though their physical and psychological wounds were fresh after the genocide, many women embraced an opportunity to heal. Weaving baskets became a way forward and a path toward peace. Women from both sides of the ethnic divide came together, wove baskets, and created an industry, which today supports thousands of Rwandan women and their families.
One American woman who vowed to make a difference helped the Rwandan women – social entrepreneur, artist, and activist, Willa Shalit. In 2005, Shalit (who is also behind the Heart of Haiti initiative) showed the baskets to executives at Macy’s who committed to sell them and to go into business with the weavers in Rwanda. Macy’s offered them a hand up, not a handout.
Rwanda Path to Peace is now the longest-lasting program of its kind, impacting thousands of women throughout Rwanda, their families and communities. With their earnings, women can now send their children to school. They can buy everything from soap to land, malaria nets to health insurance. The income they earn from their handiwork has helped rebuild their communities. One of the first things a weaver does when she sells her first basket is buy soap. The next thing she does is buy shoes and pay school fees. Many weavers today have seen huge improvements in their lives.
If you're looking for an ornament as a gift or to add to your own family tradition, the 2016 Year of Peace Rwanda Gold ornament is a wonderful choice that provides hope to others.
Click here to find out more about Macy's Rwanda Path to Peace program.