Weaving New Life: Artisan Alice Muhayemariya’s Story

By Azizi Life Story Team Member Angelique Nyiraneza

Alice Muhayemariya was born in 1971 in Southern Province, Rwanda. She is a single mother of two sons, the first 23 years old and the second 21 years old.

Alice Muhayemariya, Photo: Azizi Life

Alice didn’t have the chance to be raised by her biological parents. She found herself being raised by her grandmother, who did not have the ability to meet her basic needs. Alice’s childhood was a difficult time, and, unfortunately, this later led to an unwanted pregnancy and strained relations with her grandmother.

After Alice became a single mother, her grandmother and all her relatives mistreated her severely. She couldn’t sit together with them or share her point of view. “My life was full of challenges. It was hard to get food, drinks, clothes – the only source of income I had was subsistence farming, which was not enough for me to raise my children,” said Alice.

“There is hope for a tree: that if it is cut down, it will sprout again.”


This is what happened to Alice when her family members were not on her side. She didn’t give up as the sole parent of her children. Though her childhood was full of bitter memories, a crack of light breaks through in her mind when she remembers how she used to sit together with her aunts, who were the weavers of the family. Her aunts had taught her the art of weaving because subsistence farming was hard, and she didn’t earn enough through farming to help her family.

Alice started working with Azizi Life in 2008 in a cooperative named Abumurava (‘The People Striving for Excellence’ Cooperative).

Abumurava Cooperative (Alice is second from left)

Despite all the challenges and hardship she’s faced, Alice is proud to be a mother.

Weaving has changed my life, I am no longer a beggar to my family. I am a highly responsible woman and play a double role as the mother and father of my children. Weaving helps me to satisfy the basic needs of my children. No more do I struggle to get food, clothes, or insurance for my family.


But when there was still a disagreement between her and her relatives, Alice nodded her head with a little smile and replied, “I am no longer a curse to my family; instead I am a solution.”

Alice is very worried about the coronavirus, like other people around the world, because it is affecting so many in such a short period of time.

Weaving is the main source of income that I have…Sometimes we would also earn money from the guests [whom we host through Azizi Life Experiences] from outside of the country. In both cases, coronavirus stopped all our ways of getting money. We are afraid that soon, we are going to suffer from hunger.… But the God who has taken me so far, is still the same today.


Azizi Life’s community donors were able to provide food for Alice and her cooperative members through the Emergency Food Support Fund. Now that artisans are allowed to deliver orders to the Azizi Life office, income is more possible. Cooperatives like Abumurava that usually host foreigners, however, will not see this income for quite some time.

Learn more about the other faces behind Abumrava cooperative and the handcrafted products they make. Any purchase you make will directly support artisans like Alice.

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