Women’s History Month at Azizi Life – Meet Odette
Odette has been weaving for more than 33 years. She learned to weave from the mother of a neighbor while she was in primary school. After school Odette would sit and watch her neighbor weave while trying to copy her techniques. She doubted that she too could become a weaver one day, but she continued trying. Odette was very grateful for her neighbor as she took the time to correct her weaving mistakes and instruct her on proper technique. By the time Odette was sixteen years old, she felt like an official weaver.
“I remember that the first things I ever sold were one trivet and one bowl. The money I was paid was really low! But as a child, I was very happy and surprised. My parents felt proud of me too, that I was able to earn for myself.” – Odette
Although orders were rare, and her earnings for each product were low, Odette was able to provide for herself with things such as school materials, toiletries, and clothing. Because she was able to care for herself at such a young age from her weavings, Odette felt protected from many of the temptations that threaten young people.
When she is not weaving, Odette can be found farming and raising animals with her husband Phillippe, mothering her four children, and exchanging stories and advice with other women she weaves with. Odette began working with Azizi Life in 2007 with a group of women of the Abizeranye, ‘People Who Trust Each Other’, Cooperative. From her time weaving with these women, Odette has had the opportunity to improve in her weaving skills, gain more customers, and grow in her faith. Odette shares that of all the designs she weaves, she loves creating the Zera Bowl and seeing the swirl pattern of the bowl take shape from the center outward every time she weaves an additional row.
“I would like our customers to know that weavers are helping their families to develop economically and socially. In our community, women have become more valued and respected. Customers give value not only to our products but also to us, the artisans.” – Odette
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