Therese
Rwanda
Basket Weaver
Married
5 children

I am Therese, and I have weaving since my mother taught me as a little child. I did not understand the value of my training back then. My family was poor, so at the age of 11 I started weaving to help pay for the school fees of my seven younger siblings. Weaving soon became my profession. I used to earn 150 Rwandan francs per basket (about 25 cents) but now earn up to ten dollars per basket by working for All Across Africa. Together, my husband (a farmer) and I provide for our five children. Thanks to weaving, my family's basic needs are all covered; my children are in school, and I can finally I say that we are no longer suffering. I love weaving because in addition to the income it provides, it helps me to connect with other women. I now serve as the president of my weaving cooperative. Basket weaving is in my blood; I can never stop doing it. I think I must have woven over a million baskets and I can proudly say that I am professional weaver. Some of my family members were killed in the genocide; an aunt was severely wounded with a machete and now lives in Europe for rehabilitation and health care. But despite all we have suffered, I know that we are getting better with each passing year. Instead of bitterness and hatred, I have found peace. The wives of some of the men who killed my grandmother are in my cooperative now. Through weaving together we are slowing reconciling; through weaving we are sharing our stories with each other and in doing so, sharing our lives.