Maria
Rwanda
Basket Weaver
Married
3 children

I am thankful that I was one of the few lucky ones in my country not to be directly impacted by the genocide. Sadly, my husband lost his entire family and was also injured. Life with a disabled husband and three young children is difficult. In addition to being a caregiver and mother, I am the only wage earner in the family. For a long time, there was little I could do to provide for so many responsibilities. All I could do was farm to get food for my family. Sometimes I would make baskets to sell in the market but they would only bring in around 200–500 Rwandan francs (30 – 40 cents US). I was always exhausted from constantly worrying about my family’s future with our meager income. But thankfully tough times do not last forever. Life changed dramatically when I became the founder of a cooperative that makes baskets for All Across Africa. Our cooperative has grown to 60 permanent members. All Across Africa provides us with the market, and it is very motivating for women to come here and sell their baskets at a price that is ten to fifteen times higher than what they sold it for before. We no longer have to worry about taking our baskets to the local market and finding a buyer or getting a fair price. Living through difficulties has been hard, but it’s remarkable to now have surplus money in my bank account to support my husband, pay for my children’s education, and even build a house. I am always thankful to God for being kind to me. The money from basket making is a blessing and I share these blessings with others. Often I buy clothes for my needy neighbors. The economy of my village is improving as the buying power of every person increases.