From Genocide to African Catwalks – How Rwandan Women Are Building Their Lives and the Fashion Industry

Amy Fallon – IPS – Thursday, 26 June 2014 (originally published 23 Jun)

Colombe Ndutiye Ituze stands in front of her work desk
Rwandan fashion designer Colombe Ndutiye Ituze uses the services of the women who sew at the Centre César, a community centre in village of Avega in Kimironko, near Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The centre runs free training sessions and classes here include course in mechanics, traditional singing and dancing, and silk screening. Image: Amy Fallon/IPS

KIGALI, Jun 23 2014 (IPS) – Before Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, Salaam Uwamariya’s husband, a professor, was the family breadwinner, providing for her and their eight children. Uwamariya sold vegetables at a nearby market to supplement their income.

But like many in this Central African nation, her life changed in just the 100 days starting in April 1994 when close to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Among the dead were her husband and her two eldest children.

Today, thanks to Centre César, a community center which in 2005 “adopted” her village of Avega in Kimironko, near Kigali, the country’s capital, Uwamariya has learned new skills and is able to support her family. . .

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