Umuganda: “Coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.”
That’s precisely what Rwanda, one of the most densely populated states in Africa, intends to do. In an effort to restore shattered fragments of a lost culture, Rwanda created “Umuganda,” a monthly tradition in which people join arms to achieve social good.
The state’s collective identity eroded as a result of ongoing domestic conflict that spiraled after the state’s independence from Belgium in 1962. Social tensions, namely between the Hutu and Tutsi populations, exploded. At its pinnacle, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi, as well as moderate Hutu.
Despite tremendous loss, heartbreak, and incomprehensible turmoil, Rwanda stands tall. As part of a continued effort to bridge local communities, businesses close on the last Saturday of each month to encourage Rwandans to participate in local clean-up projects as well as other community services.
Today, Umuganda is going global. One of my new favorite jewelry lines, Same Sky, will lead a nationwide initiative in which Americans gather to clean up local communities. Fashionistas everywhere show their support with delicate, handmade Benefit Bracelets made by female artisans. By purchasing a bracelet, you’re directly contributing to the health and wellness of female artisans around the world. Don’t believe me? Watch.
I’ve got mine on – what are you waiting for?