Esperance is a Burundian refugee artisan living with her husband, her six children and two orphans in the Mtendeli refugee camp in Northwestern Tanzania. When violence reached her community in Burundi, they fled their home at night, braving the two-day trek to the Tanzanian border on foot, navigating small paths through forests, rivers and mountains. She clearly remembered the way as this was the third time they had to flee their home to Tanzania. Today, she feels safe in the camp but life is hard without opportunities for income or to grow crops and with insufficient food rations and poor access to clean water.
Deciding to change her and her family’s life in the camp, she joined the refugee artisan group as part of the social enterprise WomenCraft. As an experienced artisan, she quickly mastered the techniques and designs of the new refugee product collection and became the lead artisan of the group. Today, she is proudly leading 50 refugee artisans. Understanding the importance of strict quality standards and adhering to timelines, she is moving her group forward to be competitive and sell their products to customers across the world.
‘I am proud about my weaving and I am so happy to be leading our group to help artisans grow and produce high quality products. Only following our strict standards and timelines are we able to become competitive and sell our products to customers around the world.’
Given the limited opportunities in the camp, Esperance has become the sole breadwinner of her family. Through her weaving income, she is gradually improving her family’s situation in the camp. With her regained entrepreneurial spirit, she hopes to soon open a small family-run breakfast place to sell local doughnuts and tea within the camp as a secondary source of income.