Under the Same Sky

June 3, 2010 — Last night, the New York Yankees hosted an event at Yankee Stadium to honor the
survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 250,000 women were
raped and where approximately 70 percent of the surviving women were infected
with HIV.

In
the pre-game gathering, the Yankees joined forces with Same Sky, a company
whose mission is to empower Rwandan women by giving them the tools to lead
self-sustaining lives. Same Sky currently employs 34 Rwandan artisans, who
handcraft bracelets made of glass beads.

The
event was hosted by Francine LeFrak, who founded Same Sky in 2008, Mindy
Levine, wife of Yankees president Randy Levine, vice president and assistant
general manager Jean Afterman and Sadye Zillo, wife of Yankees director of
media relations Jason Zillo.
The Honorable Agnes Gasana, wife of
Rwandan Ambassador to the United Nations Eugene-Richard Gasana was also in
attendance.

“We
help the women whose stories were the saddest,” LaFrak said. “We help women who were not only left
with the scars of losing their families, but who had also contracted HIV from
being raped. We taught them crochet, and they started making these beautiful bracelets.
We asked them if they wanted aid or trade, and they said, ‘Please give us
trade. Please give us an opportunity to have dignity.’ That’s what we did.”

Besides
providing a forum for Same Sky to sell the handmade bracelets, the Yankees’
support created exposure for the fair-trade organization.

“We
don’t pretend to be well-known in Rwanda, but we believe that because the
Yankees are a global brand, our participation tonight will bring awareness to
Same Sky in countries around the world,” Afterman said.

For
members of the Yankees front office, Legends Hospitality, the YES Network and
Securitas who were in attendance, the event provided perspective on the 1994
tragedy.

“We’re
able think about people who are not as fortunate as we are,” Mindy Levine said.
“We get to think about baseball everyday, not about life and death. Baseball is
a serious business, but the women of Rwanda help put things in perspective.”

“What
happened in Rwanda was never supposed to happen after the atrocities of World
War II,” Afterman added. “These women have brought themselves back from the
brink. We can’t imagine what they’ve gone through, but we are all living under
the same sky.”

For
more information on Same Sky, log on to http://www.samesky.org.

–Alfred Santasiere III


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