Céline Mudahakana ’17: Weaving for Peace/Isano Cooperative

Photo of Céline Mudahakana ’17 coaching at the weaving loom

Celine Mudahakana ’17 coaching at the loom

The Innovator

Celine Mudahakana ’17 came to the US in the wake of the Rwandan genocide with a conviction to support other survivors — particularly children and youth whose lives were also affected by HIV/AIDS.  When she arrived at Mount Holyoke in 2013, she had already worked with her weaving teacher from the Putney School to offer courses in the fiber arts to youth in Kigali.  From that effort — nurtured by Celine’s commitment and ability to catalyze collective efforts — the Weaving for Peace initiative was born, and a group of Rwandan artisans founded the Isano Cooperative.  Celine went on to secure seed funds from Mount Holyoke’s McCulloch Center that allowed her to offer more courses, including in entrepreneurship, that helped the budding Isano gain advanced weaving and business skills. This step-wise development positioned her for a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant in 2016 — which enabled Isano to build a permanent space for its workers to weave and to show their wares.  

The Project 

Weaving for Peace (WFP) empowers vulnerable Rwandans who are trapped in a cycle of poverty by providing vocational training and economic empowerment. We design and hand-weave textile products that are sold in local and international markets. Our aim is to support a more viable future for these Rwandans so that they will be able to flourish as more economically stable artisans who can support not only their families but also their larger communities.

Engagement in MHC-supported social innovation programming

CGI U (2014, 2015); Social Innovation Lab; Davis Projects for Peace (2016).