We also visited Covanya for the first time on my trip. Our primary weaving cooperative, the women at Covanya seemed to be doing incredibly well. It brings me so much joy to let them know how they’re representing their country and educating an entire nation about their culture. They laugh and smile broadly when I tell them that our website gets 200 visitors per day from around the world and that their products are in prestigious museums, like the US Holocaust Museum and Art Institute of Chicago. We also learned an interesting fact today about who we’re helping. Apparently, many of the women are nearly-blind and one of the few things they can do is produce our plateau baskets. To think, we can make them feel productive and valued by simply buying a basket. What an awesome feeling. If you’d like to have it too, just CLICK HERE.
Around this point in my posts, I like to throw in little tid-bits and observations from the day. Today I noticed something unusual about how cell phones are used here. For those of you unaware, the cell phone has become the ubiquitous form of communication in Africa and everyone, from the big boss man to the oldest woman, has one. I’ve been noticing lately that lots of my conversations with friends and colleagues have been lasting 59 seconds. For one thing, that’s likely due to the fact that you pay by the minute. But there’s another socio-cultural angle at play. Only the person who places the phone call needs to pay. I gather that it’s considered polite if the call recipient gets to the point, so that the caller can hang up in less than one minute. An interesting phenomenon has developed whereby pleasantries are significantly curtailed on the phone and, if I receive a call, I feel the need to get to the point toute suite. Also, I believe Rwandans are developing an internal one-minute clock that I don’t yet possess. It explains why I’m occasionally cut-off mid-sentence and then, glancing at my phone, it reads “Last Call 0:59”. I better get with the program before I’m offending my friends.