Reborn Kyoto | Rwanda

Kyoto Reborn - Women's Dress DisplayedShortly after I arrived in Kigali, I was introduced to a charity organization and social club called Africa International Club (AIC) – Rwanda. Funds raised through outings and events go to support local projects. This organization has afforded me the opportunity to met and connect with a number of other women from the US and other parts of the world through the coffee mornings they host once a month. Last week, I attended an outing that was organized by AIC to a project in Kigali. This was my first outing which left me with a desire to attend more in the future.Kyoto Reborn - Pinning and Sewing Still in its infancy in Rwanda, Reborn Kyoto is a Japanese NGO offering a training program, with funding from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, providing opportunities for young men and women to learn sewing skills and techniques. What is unique about Reborn Kyoto is that the students learn to sew with Kimono silk, a difficult and unforgiving fabric to work with. From there, learning to sew with Kitenge {brightly colored local fabric} will be much easier for them. Kyoto Reborn - Men's ShirtThroughout our visit last week, we learned that Reborn Kyoto’s goal is to provide young Rwandans with an avenue to learn a trade and open the pathway to opportunities in the textile industry that they would not have had on their own. Many students complete the course and go on to enter the labor market producing clothing for companies, while others have hopes of starting their own businesses out of their homes one day.

The passion these students showed was infectious from their warm welcome upon our arrival, throughout their fashion show where they displayed their own work and cheered each other on, and during our Q&A session with them. Their candor about how the program has opened doors for them, brought them together as one team which they see as beneficial not just in the classroom but as a society as well, what their hopes and dreams are for specialties in the future, and what techniques or styles they find most difficult was incredible.Kyoto Reborn - Q&AThis is first time, and probably the only time, I can say that I purchased something I saw on the runway! I look forward to wearing my new, “made in Rwanda” dress, and continue to support these students by showcasing their talents.