Basket Weaver
3 children

I learned how to weave baskets from my friend Eliane, who has AIDS. I never imagined that I would learn this skill from someone who had that condition. When I used to think of AIDS, it was as if it was something that could happen to anyone else but me. I did not know I was living under this illusion until I contracted AIDS myself. My world felt as if it had come to an end. But after I met Eliane that completely changed, and I was inspired to change my life. I live with my husband and our two children, eight and five years old. I am now five months pregnant. I used to earn about a dollar a day working in the fields and doing other odd jobs. My husband was unemployed, and we lived in a tiny house. With our growing family, living in a tiny house was a challenge. I heard about Eliane’s situation and the skill she had acquired and decided I wanted to train under Eliane. She taught me how to weave baskets and make beaded necklaces; we became good friends in the process. With the money I made from weaving and beading, we were able to move into a bigger house. We can now take care of our rent and other living expenses easily. As I weave each basket or bead each necklace, it is a reminder of how I am weaving my broken life together. Basket making and bead making have significantly improved my life. The majority of the women in my cooperative, Agaseke Vision, have learned to weave through a program that the First Lady of Rwanda started for impoverished women. Like Eliane, these women taught their neighbors how to weave baskets and grew their small cooperative into a large network of weavers. Despite their illnesses and hardships, they are now living a good life. Basket weaving has created a community of students and teachers who learn from each other.