Women’s History Month at Azizi Life – Meet Christine

Christine is a life-long weaver as well as a teacher to many. When she is not creating, Christine can be found farming, mothering her kids and supporting the women of her cooperative through the ups and downs of life. Christine was born in 1955 in southern Rwanda, one of fifteen children in a blended family. Christine only went to school up until fourth grade, her parents did not see much value in education and preferred that their girls stay home and help with the household, as was traditional in Rwanda at that time. 

As Christine looks back on her story as a weaver, she recalls a woman named Bernadette who made an important impact on her life and in her community. Though Christine was young when Bernadette came, her older sisters were teens. Bernadette invited them and many other girls from the town to gather together as she taught them to weave. Christine remembers sitting and watching her sisters weave baskets at home, she would often pick up their extra sisal fibers and try to copy their techniques. Christine practiced and practiced until at last, she had become a weaver as well. Sadly, Bernadette was killed in the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, but her legacy lives on through each woven piece that Christine creates.  

“In the morning, we were busy with farming and chores, but in the afternoon, we would sit in the yard and weave. This helped us to avoid the distractions and temptations which so many young girls face.” -Christine

When Christine got married in 1974, she brought weaving into her new family. In fact, she shares that both she and her husband are honored in their family because of the value Christine has brought with her skills. She has taught her husband’s sisters and they are now great weavers as well, some have even taken their craft overseas. Christine’s weaving has taken her through seven pregnancies and has sustained her through the grief of losing two children. Just in 2020, her grown son died in a drowning accident. You may remember that we shared about his loss in our prayer team update. Our Azizi Life team grieved with Christine, and she was supported by the women of her weaving cooperative as well.

“Weaving is not only an occupation but also provides a group context where the younger women learn values and are prepared for motherhood and family life.” -Christine

Ingobokarugo Cooperative means ‘Helping Our Homes’. The group was founded with the objective of improving each family’s economy through weaving. Ingobokarugo has a special place in the Azizi Life story because they were among our first artisan partners. Christine joined this group of women not long after they began working with Azizi Life in 2008. Within the last several years, Christine’s family was able to build a new home. Christine’s weaving contributed significantly to making their new home possible.

“I’m thankful for our customers; they made us who we are today. What would we gain from weaving without customers?” -Christine

WOVEN DISC EARRINGS

MINIATURE BASKET ORNAMENT

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