Anastasie Mukeshimana was born in 1984 in a rural community in southern Rwanda. She is the firstborn in a family of six children. When she was 7 years old, Anastasie began primary school, but she left soon after without becoming skilled at reading and writing. Her parents did not encourage their children to attend school and, as the eldest daughter, she was obliged to help her parents raise her younger siblings.
Anastasie grew up in a family of weavers. Her mother, aunts and sisters all made baskets, bowls and trivets. Even as a young girl, she would sit and watch her mother weave. Sometimes, Anastasie helped her mother thread her needles with sisal fibers. When her mother stopped weaving for other activities, Anastasie would pick up her basket and continue to weave until mother returned and would correct errors made by her daughter.
“In my childhood, I saw weaving as the main activity which I would depend on in the future. We were lucky to have such skills in our family and we are thankful for such gifts. I will be very happy if my daughters become weavers also.” – Anastasie.
At 10 years old, Anastasie sold her first product. She gave the money to her mother as savings and made this a habit. Her savings were used to help the family purchase necessities and she was proud to contribute to the family’s wellbeing and development. In 2008, Anastasie married a young man named Emmanuel. The couple now has the blessing of three children, named Alpha, Ruthie and Esther. Anastasie shares, “we have been inspired by Esther’s story in Bible. We hope that our children will grow up with strong hearts of love.”
In 2010, Anastasie was invited by a neighbor to join in a weaving cooperative in her community. This group of experienced weavers had begun partnering with Azizi Life two years prior and were weaving products like Woven Pots. Two of her sisters are also weavers in other Azizi Life partner cooperatives!
“In Azizi Life we have made friends, created new products and received good wages, grown in initiative and confidence, connected with customers, grown in our faith, and been assured that we are not alone. Among the products I create, I like the Woven Pot. I feel like my arms are made for creating woven pots!! When I am weaving, I plan also how I will use the money I will earn, because I always have confidence that the product I make will be among the best.” – Anastasie
Anastasie shared she is proud to have purchased land with her weaving income. Now she grows more of her own food and can provide for her family more sustainably. When Anastasie gets up in the morning and finds that everyone in her family is well, she feels very happy. She also loves having orders of woven pots to weave.
“The happiness of our customers reaches us and we wish that our happiness will also reach them through our products. We pray for our customers, that God will bless them and increase their resources.” – Anastasie.