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My Made-in-Rwanda Backpack

My Made-in-Rwanda Backpack

It has been three years since I started visiting different parts of Rwanda and sharing my travel experiences with readers of different travel blogs around the world. As I travel around the country, I usually pack a tablet, detachable keyboard, router, camera, external hard drive, chargers and a myriad of gadgets. In addition to the devices and accessories I can’t do without, I obviously pack clothes, hand sanitizers and other hygiene products.

Packing is an art every traveler needs to master. What to pack and how to pack it is an important topic in the Travel 101 course. The choice of the bag or suitcase used is equally important.

Lately, I have been waking up to scarier news every day — like everyone else. 2020 has been rough to all of us. Despite the pace at which COVID- 19 is spreading, I have not panicked and neither should you. Panic will make the situation even worse. However, we need to be vigilant and play our role in the war against the virus. Together, we shall defeat it.

I am still touring Rwanda extensively but precautionary measures to curb the pandemic have been incorporated into my adventurous life. I wash my hands frequently, but for some insane reasons, I can’t stop touching my face. This violation of the new code of conduct must stop. I am also avoiding bus stations and the crowded buses. Having an alternative means of transport that conforms to the newly-coined social distancing notion is a privilege I am not taking for granted.

Although I am now in a position to travel privately, my backpacking background made me hooked to the rucksacks. I have lived my entire life with a small bag on my back, handles wrapped around my shoulders. From text books to binoculars and sleeping bags, I have been carrying a lot of stuff on my back comfortably since I was a little kid.

A few months ago, I bought a beautiful backpack with multiple compartments. The bag in question was made by skilled women plying their craft at the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center located in Kayonza District. The establishment of the said center has created a secure, supportive environment in which vulnerable women find support, access resources and develop life-changing skills.

The center’s roadside craft market is loaded with a variety of handcrafts produced by the beneficiaries of its training programs. The workforce in the sewing center, where my backpack was tailored, comprises young women who are in tune with fashion and the latest trends in the global market. Their apparel can compete with any other established brand out there.

Ingabire Aisha has been working under the umbrella of the aforementioned center since completing her formal training. "I am still sharpening my skills. I am doing so while earning an income. The skills development aspect is a continuous process." She says. Through her savings, Aisha has bought her own sewing machine and basic tools. Having her own equipment accords her the luxury of working from home and enables her to avoid unnecessary commuting as advised by the Ministry of Health during these trying times.

Her colleague, Irakiza Martha, is a diploma holder in Computer Science. She is planning to start her own label and leverage the power of technology to grow her brand.

As circumstances force us to take stringent measures in the battle against the deadly coronavirus, let’s turn to the made in Rwanda products and help our local entrepreneurs weather the storm.

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