25 years after the genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda’s national schools curriculum features a life-saving peace education programme developed by the Aegis Trust. Now White Rose, the recycled fashion chain supporting the Aegis Trust, is launching a campaign enabling the public to help export this programme to countries in crisis today: https://www.whiteroseshop.co.uk/fundraise

Every dime raised or donated will help fund clothing banks for White Rose, generating sustainable income year after year to save lives through Aegis’ peacebuilding work.

“From Rwanda to the Central African Republic and beyond, through peace education, Aegis Trust enables people to give up revenge, lay down weapons, and champion humanity,” says Aegis’ Executive Director Freddy Mutanguha, himself a genocide survivor. “Without White Rose, this couldn’t be happening.” Each White Rose clothing bank also helps the environment by recycling a tonne of clothing each year which would have gone to landfill.

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could discard hate?”

Presented by Clare-Hope Ashitey, a three-minute film to launch the White Rose Clothing Bank campaign draws together these twin strands of sustainable living and peace-building: https://youtu.be/hKFMwXx3EQ0

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could discard hate, discard destruction, and save lives? Well now you can,” says Ashitey. The actor discovered Aegis’ work in Rwanda for herself on visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial while starring alongside the late John Hurt in the 2005 movie ‘Shooting Dogs’. “Conflict is at a 25-year high,” she says. “At the same time, fast fashion is destroying the environment – but you have the power to help change this today.”

How fast fashion feeds into conflict

“Fast fashion exacerbates the impact of climate change, not least because of the vast amounts of water used in the production of cotton,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust. “Climate change, in turn, leads to crop failure, hunger, mass migration, and then conflict over scarce resources. White Rose clothing banks contribute to peace twice over; first, by reducing the damaging impact of fashion on the environment, and second, by generating truly sustainable income for building peace.”

In Rwanda – and in the Central African Republic, where Aegis has also established a presence – results have been striking. In some cases, participants have given up well-developed plans for armed violence. In one instance, a female participant in CAR handed in to the authorities an array of weaponry stockpiled for a revenge attack.

“I went to the home of the people I had planned to kill…”

“I said that I had to take revenge,” she told Aegis. “I had grenades, a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. But these workshops, firstly in trauma healing, released my heart. After the peace education training, in the evening I went to the home of the people I had planned to kill. When they saw me they were scared, thinking I was coming to harm them, but I shook hands and asked their forgiveness. And I handed my weapons to the police.”

“The steps have been achieved in Rwanda, so they can be replicated elsewhere,” says student Djibril Rushingabigwi, who took part in peace education with the Aegis Trust in Kigali last year. “Now I know that whatever little means I have, whatever little impact those little means can have, matters. Together they can accumulate, and eventually, have an impact greater than I thought was possible with my little means.”

To find out more about the campaign, to donate or to take part, visit https://www.whiteroseshop.co.uk/fundraise now.