By:Â Allana Mortell
Ice cream is a welcome relief on a hot summer day but for one village in Rwanda, it's a way to survive.
Four years ago Jennie Dundas, co-owner of Brooklyn's Blue Marble Ice Cream shop met Rwandan drummer and playwright Odile Gakire Katese at a Sundance Institute workshop. After some discussion about the 1994 genocide that killed nearly 800,000 people in Rwanda, Dundas took it upon herself to help make Katese's wishes come true. Katese (or Kiki, for short) thought opening an ice cream parlor in Butere would boost spirits and create some economic growth in the city located in the South Province of Rwanda.
Thus Inzozi Nziza ("Sweet Dreams") was born.
Together with Eric Demby, co-founder of Brooklyn Flea, Dundas and business partner Alexis Miesen raised more than $80,000 to help Kiki start the pilot initiative that provides a safe haven where the people living in Butere can come and enjoy Blue Marble Ice Cream. Taking it a step further, the women created a program where Kiki and her partners can train and educate the women working at the shop (most of them fellow drummers in Kiki's group), to feed, clothe and educate more than 70 family members. And since the ice cream shop relies on local product, Inzozi Nziza also helps the livelihood of coffee bean growers, dairy farmers and beekeepers in the area. The idea is to eventually make these women completely self-sufficient in the business.
But their passion for sweet treats doesn't stop there-Dundas and Miesen run a successful and sustainable shop in Prospect Heights and continue to innovate. Their latest creation is the ice cream cupcake, a decadent concoction that, when we stopped by, included coffee ice cream, vanilla butter cream and a graham cracker crust. While the flavors may change, Dundas and Miesen always use the highest quality dairy sourced here in New York, with no artificial flavors, coloring or corn syrup. Each store features biodegradable and recycled supplies and runs on clean and renewable energy. The tabletops are constructed with Kirel board and the walls are painted with American Clay, a paint alternative.
For more information about Blue Marble Ice Cream, visit their website here. Â
Photos: Blue Marble Ice Cream and Allana Mortell
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