Eliane
40
Rwanda
Basket Weaver
Married
4 children

My name is Eliane and I am 40 years old. I live with my husband, four children, and grandchild. My husband has asthma and is unable to work. I used to sell bananas, tomatoes, and other goods on the roadside, but I was unable to make enough money for the family. I was barely managing when I received the worst news of my life—I found out I had HIV/AIDS. I was scared and worried not only because of the disease itself, but because of the stigma associated with it in Rwandan society. My doctor encouraged me by telling me that having HIV/AIDS was not the end of the world or the end of my life. He reassured that I still had a lot of time to live. I realized that I should make the best of the life I had left. My mother lives next door to the All Across Africa’ Program Manager, and I joined their Agaseke Vision weaving cooperative. Through the cooperative, I learned to weave baskets, which has given me a lot of hope and an income; it has also created a community of support for me with other weavers. I even taught my husband how to weave so he could help support the family if he lost his job. We are now able to afford our children's school fees, and we have access to electricity and water at home. We have saved some money in our savings account for the future. I have also taught my neighbors how to weave baskets. One of the most beautiful things that I learned while teaching basket making was that even people without HIV/AIDS would love me and take care of me, regardless of my illness. Basket making has brought endless opportunities to me. I even decorated my home with baskets!