Story by Azizi Life Story Team Member Jean Claude Dusabe
As baby Isimbi was being knit together in her mother’s womb, her mother, Xavera, was weaving sisal bowls. Isimbi grew inside Xavera, and Xavera wove on. Pandemic came, lockdown began and ended, and Xavera wove. Days before Isimbi arrived, Xavera was weaving. And days after Isimbi was born, guess what? That’s right.
Isimbi is the newest member of a large family of weavers: Xavera is the youngest in a family of 15 children! The family lived on a Rwandan hillside, where her father farmed and her mother wove bowls and baskets. Xavera learned weaving from her mother and sisters when she was a young girl. This skill would prove to be central to her livelihood and to her story.
When Xavera was 9 years old, her father died. Having lost 8 children previously, Xavera’s mother was left to raise her remaining 7 children on her own. Because of the difficulties they faced, Xavera began selling baskets while she was still in primary school. With these small sales, she was able to help herself and purchase toiletries and school supplies. After primary school, Xavera attended a technical school where she studied sewing. However, when she finished school, she found that even with her weaving and sewing skills, her income was very low because of a limited number of customers and low local prices.
In the last six years, Xavera’s life has changed significantly. In 2014, at age 21, she married Noel, and the following year they welcomed their firstborn, a son named Galilee. One year after that, Xavera joined a weaving cooperative in her community. This group of women, called Abahuje People Joined Together Cooperative, is one of the artisan groups which has chosen to partner with Azizi Life.
Xavera shares that from the time she joined the cooperative, her income had a marked increase. With regular orders from Azizi Life, Xavera began to earn enough to help cover her family’s needs, as well as to save for the future. With their combined income, Xavera and Noel plan to one day build a home for their children.
Xavera expresses thanks to God for his love and blessing, to Azizi Life for coming alongside her, and to her fellow members of Abahuje Cooperative for their advice, help and collaboration.
We at Azizi Life are thankful too- to God, to Xavera and her fellow artisans, and to all of our partnering cooperatives. And we are thankful for baby Isimbi, who hopefully one day will be weaving a beautiful future with her own sisal bowls.
Weaving together and sharing advice, the women of Abahuje are collaborating to bring improved life to their families. Their dream is to build a weaving house for their cooperative. Support Xavera and the other women in her cooperative to continue dreaming big by purchasing their hand made pieces – such as the Akazi Woven Bowl and the Zera Woven Bowl in the Xavera Woven Bowl Set pictured above!