Janet Nkubana

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Gahaya Links

Janet Nkubana is the founder and president of Gahaya Links, a Rwandan handicrafts organization that empowers local rural women to achieve economic stability. These women include victims of genocide, both Hutu and Tutsi widows, women with HIV, and women with husbands in prison – all weaving together as a chance for reconciliation as they work side-by-side utilizing the same solution to rid their communities of poverty. Hence the name: peace baskets.

Gahaya Links has rigorous training programs where women learn weaving techniques and receive information about family planning, HIV/AIDS, finances and nutrition. The women find a new sense of self-determination because they are able to earn their own income, take control of their own futures, and play a leadership role in improving their communities. Gahaya Links connects more than 3,500 artisans in 40 cooperatives and associations all over Rwanda.

Janet arrived in Rwanda from exile in Uganda in 1994, and eight years later, brought a display of Rwandan baskets to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. By 2005, Macy's was selling the baskets made by rural women in Rwanda. These baskets are not only creating income for local women but are spreading a message of hope and peace throughout the world.

Read Janet's remarks from the 2008 Africa Prize Gala Award Ceremony.