By Ange Nyiraneza, Azizi Life Team Member
“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Marie Jeanne
Marie Jeanne was born in 1971 in the Southern Province of Rwanda. She is married to a farmer named Theogene Twagirimana, and they have three sons and two daughters, their eldest is 27 years old and their youngest 17 years old.
Marie Jeanne grew up in similar circumstances to most other young Rwandans, her family’s only source of income being subsistence farming. This made it very hard for the family to meet their basic needs including food, clothes, education and good medical care because their crops were not enough. For this reason, Jeanne finished just three years of primary school.
Marie Jeanne later got married and continued her family occupation of farming with her husband. When they went on to have children, she proved her multi-tasking abilities, juggling their livelihood with parenting.
After some time, Marie Jeanne and her neighbors sat together and shared ideas on how they could contribute to the development of their households. This is where she learned how to weave. Finally, they formed a cooperative named Twivanemubukene (Let’s Get Out of Poverty), which is a group of women working together for the purpose of reducing poverty in their families. She started working with Azizi Life in 2008 and began making photo frames, banana leaf bags, and pop-up bags made with natural, local, and renewable materials like banana leaves and sisal fibers.
She said that there have been a lot of improvements since that time as she has honed her craft. She’s proud to contribute to her family’s development and wellbeing. “I no longer ask my husband for everything. I contribute to the payment of my children’s school fees.” Marie Jeanne builds her confidence by gathering with other women in the community and contributes to paying insurance. On top of that, she has a bank account whereby she saves a given amount of money per month.
As a mother, Marie Jeanne is very worried about her family and other people around the world due to the coronavirus.
I am afraid that soon we shall be affected if nothing changes. I only earn money from weaving; how am I going to feed my children if this is affected? How about the school fees? We are going to suffer from hunger because we will see no more orders and our family is going to suffer without their basic needs being met. Still, there is no prayer that God cannot answer….Marie Jeanne
If you would like to help artisans like Marie Jeanne and their families through these hard times, please consider donating to the Artisan Emergency Food Fund.
Learn more about Marie Jeanne’s weaving group and the fair trade, handcrafted products they make on the Twivanemubukene Cooperative page. Any purchase you make will allow for Azizi Life to place more orders with Marie Jeanne and other partner artisans.