Same Sky is an organization founded by Francine LeFrak that provides training and employment for HIV-positive women survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. These women are struggling to lift themselves out of poverty and have turned to the Same Sky cause-based trade initiative to lead successful, prosperous lives.
Founder, Francine LeFrak is a television, theatrical and film producer. Born on October 18, 1948 in New York City LeFrak has used her work as a producer to bring attention towards social, global issues. As the winner of Tony, EMMY and Peabody awards LeFrak is extremely praised in the film world. On top of these honors Francine was recognized by the United Nations with a Women Together Award as well as a Ellis Island Medal of Honor and a Human Spirit Award. LeFrak founded Same Sky in 2007 to aid and support those affected by the Rwandan genocide.
History In 2007, Francine’s LeFrak's friend, Willa Shalit, who produced baskets and jewelry in Rwanda through her company, asked her to consider designing and marketing different types of mesh bracelets. Francine agreed to do so, and she worked to create a unique design that was both cost efficient and reproducible by Rwandan artisans. Francine found and fell in love with a design created by AIDS activist and artist, Mary Fisher, that featured handblown glass beads. She quickly began to expand on it, and to grow this prototype into a wide range of colors and collections. Willa then encouraged her to take over production and grow the project on her own.
Once she began production, Francine learned about a group of women that were involved in the Rwandan genocide that had been raped and contracted HIV/AIDS. She then starting working with a handful of these abused women that had been trained to crochet by Mary Fisher. Francine then shipped the glass beads from the United States to Rwanda by sending suitcases with friends who happened to be traveling to this area. This marked the beginning of Same Sky's production, and it has sold over 45,000 pieces of jewelry since.