Same Sky:
Our Impact

The First Lady of Rwanda Mrs Jeannette Kagame & Francine during her visit to Rwanda in 2016.
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stories

Same Sky: Rwanda

Same Sky celebrates the bond between artisan and consumer. Our handmade beaded jewelry is inspired by the courageous stories of our women artisans. We have provided over 85 women in Rwanda with a marketable skill and steady employment—two crucial factors in rebuilding lives & communities. The artisan cooperatives provide them with a safe haven and forum to discuss pressing social issues such as poverty, family planning, and violence against women. Below, you can read stories and watch videos shared by four of our artisans.

Meet

Brigitte

Brigitte may be among Same Sky’s youngest employees, but she has great talent in crafting handmade jewelry. We have been overjoyed to watch Brigitte’s life transform since she began as a Same Sky Artisan in 2008.

In 1996, Brigitte had just found out that she was diagnosed HIV+ and was experiencing debilitating migraines from an intense head injury she received during the Rwandan Genocide. When we met Brigitte, she was living as an orphan. She had no family and no siblings. She had survived rape, borne children from it, and had difficulty nurturing them in the way they needed— she had no means to provide for them, and struggled daily with finding her purpose as she reconciled the horrors of the genocide.

Same Sky began employing Brigitte in 2008, and she has since told us that she feels employment gives her reason to live. She can provide for her children, has a new life and family, and her health has drastically improved. Brigitte now has health insurance, is able to visit the doctor regularly, and no longer gets headaches. She recently moved out of public housing, bought her own house, and can afford electricity, a true accomplishment. She is proud— strengthened by her independence and ability to care for her family.

Brigitte has recently updated us that her home now has water and windows, and her two children have been able to attend secondary school because she can afford to buy them school uniforms and supplies.

Meet

Solina

Solina is a survivor. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide left her homeless and forced to beg for food. In 2008, Same Sky recruited her and provided Solina with employment for a sustainable income—one that is substantially more than the average Sub-Saharan wage. Solina now has a home, what she calls “peace of mind” about the future, and is able to support her family of four. Solina’s health and immunity have also drastically improved.

Since working at Same Sky, Solina has purchased a small piece of land where she grows her own vegetables, a cow that provides her family with milk, and she is currently saving up to buy her own home.

Solina’s message to customers:

“I thank all the clients that buy the bracelets. I also thank them for keeping us close at heart as they write to us. This makes me very happy.”

Meet

Clementine

Clementine is an original member of Same Sky’s inaugural project in Kigali, Rwanda, where she started crocheting handmade jewelry in 2008. Before working for Same Sky, Clementine was repeatedly hit with adversity as she struggled to rebuild her life after the Rwandan Genocide. Clementine and her child were very ill, and she had lost her husband during the war. Even though she was given free HIV treatment, she could not afford the hot food needed to take the medicine.

Today, Clementine is able to pay for her family’s health insurance, her rent, and cover school expenses for her brother as he completes his secondary education—and in recent developments her own schooling! She has the means and stability to support her child and her health has drastically improved—in part, as she tells us, because she's happier. She has opened up a bank account, has savings, and is building a future for her family. Respected in her community and known for her hard work, Clementine feels uplifted and secure since she began crocheting bracelets. We recently received news that her white blood cell count has gone up, yet again!

Clementine’s message to customers:

“I thank them for wearing the SAME SKY bracelet. I pray for them. When they succeed, I succeed.”

Meet

Speciose

Speciose and her family are survivors of the1994 Rwandan genocide and are currently living on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda. Since joining Same Sky in 2008, Speciose has earned an income that allows her to provide food, healthcare, and school uniforms to her three children. She says, “before making bracelets, I felt tired and looked sick.” Speciose was raped repeatedly during the genocide and contracted HIV—but she's a survivor. She now feels healthy, is more social, confident, and secure with her future. Working in a collective provides support, as she can communicate with other women living with HIV. Speciose has also opened a savings account since becoming a Same Sky artisan and is planning to build a bigger house.

She's also installed electricity in her home—a huge accomplishment, considering that only 6% of Rwandans had electricity in 2008. Speciose has also bought a goat to provide nutrition for her family and herself. Her children are succeeding in school, and she's has gained some weight and vitality.

Speciose’s message to customers:

“To my parent Francine and the Same Sky team—I hope you all are doing well and I thank God for your invaluable support. I send greetings to all clients of Same Sky.”

Meet

Mutesi Joyce

My name is MUTESI Joyce, 23 years old. I’m a 3rd year university same sky Scholar at University of Rwanda, college of Agriculture, Animal sciences and Veterinary medicine ( School of Agriculture, rural development and agricultural economics). I’m in a crop science department studying crop science and forestry.


I’m so grateful for the support and chance given to me by the same sky foundation. Same sky foundation is a godsend for me in many ways. I had dropped out of high school at FAWE in 2015 because my parents could not afford to pay the school fees for me and I had no hope of getting sponsorship. My parents are peasant farmers and have a lot of children to take care of. I had absolutely no idea how I could graduate from my high school and study in a University and achieve my dream of being an agriculturalist specializing in crop science. I didn't know how I could achieve my education dream and get any kind of condensed, comprehensive agricultural knowledge, or what being a crop scientist would actually be like given my little hope of achieving college education. When I was accepted into this scholarship program, it felt like the door to my future opened and I worked hard to achieve highly academically.


At the university I have been excelling in academics students with current with annual marks percentage Average (MPA) of 70.8% and striving higher to achieve 80% so that I can graduate with a first class next year.


Studying at the University with a same sky scholarship has been invaluable to me and offered many lessons, skills, a pathway, and a community that has helped me to define, understand, and focus my goal to become a leader and scientist. Currently I’m a student leader at the university and carry my leadership experience to my community in advocating for women rights and girl empowerment and also transfer my agricultural knowledge and experts to farmers to help them in food production. Thank you same sky foundation and I encourage you to continue supporting more impoverished girls in Rwanda to achieve their education dreams.

Meet

Iragena Nirere Beatrice

My name is IRAGENA NIRERE Beatrice. I`m 19 years old. I`m a same sky scholar United Arab Emirates University. I’m in second year of study studying Bachelors of Science in environmental science and conservation.

I am truly thankful for the gift of scholarship from same sky foundation to study at FAWE School, I had dropped out of the school because of school fees. The same sky contribution has helped me and my family significantly. In a society where it is easy to lose sight of education as a blessing and a gift, I would like you to know that I am thankful for every opportunity this scholarship has given me to grow, not only as a student but, as an individual. Thank you for investing in my future and for seeing the potential of impoverished girls in Rwanda.

Same sky foundation provides us young girls from Rwanda a platform, for us to pursue careers that we want to be invested in, with full assistance starting from our program mentor at FAWE (Teacher Tonny) who is always encouraging us to work hard, and monitoring our progress in every step of academics.

Having spent the two years at the university of United Arab Emirates, I have witnessed a tremendous change in my life may it be on the academic front or even on a personal level. The university provides an ideal platform for growth and improvement leading to the formation of bright young individuals determined to make an impact in the coming future. I have developed critical thinking, research and communication skills through a number of conservation science projects I have been involved in. After my students, I will return to Rwanda with a lot of knowledge and expertise that I will share with my communities to conserve the environment and continue to fight the climate change problems.

Your philanthropy has expanded the opportunities available to enhance the lives of the next generation. This support makes secondary and higher education possible for impoverished girls like me and with that expect many success stories and positive impacts to the communities from same sky scholars.

I want to thank you for your generous gift that made my education attainable. Through your support, I have accomplished much of what I never thought possible especially attaining college education and in a great university outside Rwanda. I am proud to say I had worked hard to be where I am, but I certainly could not have done it without your help. I am forever grateful for same sky foundation.

Program Updates

NEST Program

Thanks from NEST artisan Tracey

Ummmm, are Y'all made of magic??!!  Last night was absolutely incredible!  Not only was being able to speak to Francine one of the most memorable experiences, but I also had the opportunity to meet one of the managers of the Grand Bohemian hotel to discuss purchasing complimentary sized items for their guests!!  What a MAJOR account that will be for me!  I'm definitely going back to seal that deal.

I don't know how y'all do what you do, but I appreciate it with all my breath.

NEST Program

Letter from NEST artisan Gelenda

Sisters....I want to take this moment to simply say THANK YOU!!!

I've had to sit back and take a look upon the journey I'm on and reflect upon the "places" (situations) I've encountered.

I've often told clients in the past that some people can jump on the interstate and go from A-Z without any delays or detours. Others are faced with many obstacles which take them off the interstate and travel the many side roads. Those on the side roads are given an opportunity to learn new ways and see new things/places we would've otherwise missed traveling the interstate.

Well I'm the one who had to take the side roads. Along my journey I discovered my heart and brain hungered to release my creative gifts. Recently I was granted an opportunity to build upon these gifts by developing a solid & sound foundation courtesy of MAKERS UNITED, NEST, QUIRE, & other supporting entities.

I look forward to utilizing the tools and skills I've garnered to build my "business" 😄😄😄 and arrive at Point Z!

*(by the way....my Point Z is NYC 😉)

Again MANY THANKS!!!

Same Sky

Same Sky Dyeing Raffia

Same Sky

Same Sky Basket Weavers - Indego Africa

Indego Africa

Letter from Indego Africa, February 2020

Here is the group of Congolese refugee women that the Same Sky Foundation is supporting artisan and business education for (with another 25 women on deck to begin in August). Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this possible. These women escaped being killed in the Congo and have been at the Kigeme Refugee Camp since 2012. I can't tell you what a difference it makes in their lives to learn new skills, earn an income for their families and be part of a group, working together - you can see it in their faces!
We also took a picture of the five women from the host community who have joined the group - Indego is one of the few NGO's who incorporate women from the host community with the work we are doing in refugee camps. This is viewed as innovative by the Rwandan government and UNHCR.
Indego Africa

Letter from Indego Africa February 2020

Photo from the Kigeme Refugee Camp graduation of the first cohort of 50 women Indego trained in 2019
Indego Africa

Letters from Indego Africa February 2020

One of the benefits Indego provides to artisan partners who are interested are onsite yoga classes. Here are some of the Imbera Heza (formerly Same Sky/Avega) women with a Rwandan yoga instructor. Taking a break from weaving the Raffia baskets you see on the side!

Testimonials

"Thank you for making this possible! I don't know how you do what you do, but I appreciate it with all my breath."

Tracey

Nest - Makers United Program

"I've often told clients in the past that some people can jump on the interstate and go from A-Z without any delays or detours. Others are faced with many obstacles that take them off the interstate and travel the many side roads. Those on the side roads are given an opportunity to learn new ways and see new things/places we would've otherwise missed traveling the interstate. Well, I had to take the side roads. Along my journey, I discovered my heart and brain hungered to release my creative gifts. Recently I was granted an opportunity to build upon these gifts by developing a solid & sound foundation courtesy of MAKERS UNITED, NEST, QUIRE, & other supporting entities. I look forward to utilizing the tools and skills I've garnered to build my business and arrive at Point Z!"

Gelenda

Nest - Makers United Program

"Same Sky restored my focus and dreams for the future. I have many dreams, and plans, and goals. I was able to buy a small piece of land so I can grow my food and always have vegetables."

Solina

"Same Sky has restored my dignity. Same Sky has afforded me electricity in my house. Same Sky feeds my children. I had nothing, and now I am a woman, a mother - I am someone."

Brigitte

"I could miss school for weeks while waiting on my parents to give me the money and this could stress me and affected my academic performance often. Now with the scholarship, I can focus on my studies and my performance in class is improving every academic term."

Uwiringiyimana Adeline

"I’m happy that with the same sky scholarship I no longer have the stress of dropping out of school and this has helped me to focus on my studies and also improve on my academic performance. I’m no longer worried about being chased back home to collect school fees."

Mukunde Grace

"I’m so grateful for the same sky scholarship because before it I used to miss many classes at school as they used to send me back home to bring the school fees, yet my mother could not afford to pay. Missing classes while others were studying was really hurting me and was discouraging me every day from studying. I was thinking of looking for unskilled job but when the Same Sky scholarship came, my story changed a lot, I’m now a confident girl with high hopes of achieving my education and career goals."

Uyiringiye Marie Elyse