How the artwork of school children in Rwanda became a Hiccups design.
Linen House has been a major sponsor of YGAP (Y Generation Against Poverty) since its inception in 2008. A not for profit organization, YGAP volunteers run creative fundraising campaigns and social enterprises to support youth education across Africa, Asia and Australia.
In September 2013 Michele Duncan (Hiccups Creative Director and Linen House Co-Founder) and her son Scott (YGAP Founding Member) volunteered to join the 2013 YGAP Dreamlink project. Dreamlink is a joint initiative with local group Sanejo which aims to provide access to educational facilities to communites facing extreme poverty as they transit from war to peace– starting with Ntenyo primary school. Fifteen classrooms have been constructed with YGAP funding and labour from Australian volunteer groups since 2010. In addition the volunteers assist with teacher training and English classes. The pass rate of students from primary to secondary school has improved from 0% to 100%.
In addition, all building materials are bought locally, further supporting the local community and providing new jobs.
Michele thought it would be a worthwhile project to get the Ntenyo children involved in the creation of a Hiccups design. Not only would they have a lot of fun painting and drawing but they would also get to see how a design can become a real product for sale. So two large suitcases were packed for the trip with 50kg of brand new art materials and paper (generously subsidized by Melbourne Art Supplies).
So while other volunteers were busy building four new classrooms, Michele teamed up with enthusiastic student trainer teacher Godwin and 600 excited primary school kids to conduct daily art classes – and the results are remarkable considering they have never had the opportunity to have art classes or any materials.
Back in Australia, Michele met with the Hiccups designers to go through the difficult process of selection and discuss how best to incorporate the drawings into a design format for production.
Drawing inspiration for colour from photos of Rwanda the team brought back with them, Emily put together a very cute patchwork of original drawings from the Ntenyo children together with her own drawings to complement the African theme. The result is charmingly original and fresh.
“The artwork we received from the kids was mostly of cars, bicycles, schoolhouses, plants and their family and friends. Which not surprisingly is the same as most other children would draw! There were no drawings of African animals, the reason being that most of these children had never really seen them before. They just drew what was around them. They had a lot of creativity and artistic flare shining through in their use of colour and texture which reflected the African landscape. It was a heartwarming experience being able to collaborate with these budding artists, creating something new which gives back to their community. “
A couple of months later our sample finally arrived and we could show the buyers from the department stores. We were thrilled with the reception it received- everyone loved the design and were keen to support the project.
Sanejo means ‘rebuilding tomorrow’ in the local Kinyarwanda language. Now all the stock has arrived you can be part of this story as well- Linen House is donating 10% of all quilt cover set sales back to the Dreamlink project.
This year YGAP is raising funds to build four more classrooms, continue teacher training programs and provide ongoing business support training for the local community.
Sanejo Quilt Cover Set available at:
For more information on YGAP and Sanejo go to: