Artisan Spotlight: Mukamaana Kolodine

WomenCraft_Mukamaana PhotoMukamaana (middle) stands with her two weaving friends, Naimaana (left) and Maria (right). They have lived in the Mtendeli refugee camp for the last two years and have now returned to their communities in Burundi. As they live right on the border, they are able to continue weaving with WomenCraft and cross the border every day to join their Tanzanian weaving group. Naimaana was able to save enough money from weaving in the camp that when she returned home to Burundi, she was able to build herself a new house — a new start for her and her family after a long and difficult time of living in the camp. (Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft)

We are very thankful for our partnership with WomenCraft, a social enterprise in Tanzania supporting income opportunities for more than 500 artisans. We had the opportunity to learn more about Mukamaana Kolodine, a hardworking artisan who resettled in her home community of Burundi after living in a refugee camp in Tanzania. To hear her story from the WomenCraft Team, keep reading below.

Mukamaana is 30 years of age. She has five children between the ages of 1 and 13 years old. She lives with her family in Muruzo Ward in Burundi, which lies directly on the border with Tanzania. Mukamaana joined WomenCraft in 2017 in the Mtendeli refugee camp, where she lived with her family for two years. After returning to her community in Burundi, Mukamaana decided to continue her work with WomenCraft. She joined one of the groups from a community just on the other side of the border in Tanzania. This means that she now crosses the border every day to meet up with her weaving group in Tanzania.

WomenCraft_Border Area of Tanzania&Burundi which Mukamaana crosses every dayPhoto Courtesy of WomenCraft

Mukamaana starts her days early. She cleans the surroundings of her home and then prepares breakfast for her family. After that, she walks across the border to join her weaving group. She then spends the rest of her day weaving. In the evening, she returns home to fetch water and prepare dinner for her family.

WomenCraft_Mukamaanas Weaving GroupPhoto Courtesy of WomenCraft

Mukamaana decided to join WomenCraft because it was the only option to earn income in the refugee camp. Life in the camp is difficult, so she also really liked to be able to sit with her friends, exchange ideas and to help each other out to cope with the daily struggles in the camp.

WomenCraft Mtendeli Refugee Camp SettingPhoto Courtesy of WomenCraft

Mukamaana is grateful to have been able to remain with WomenCraft even after having returned to her community in Burundi. She says the weaving income is reliable and really helps her provide the basic needs for her family. While in the camp, she was able to save up some money, which now helped her and her family to restart their lives back in Burundi.

WomenCraft_Mukamaanas Weaving Group 1Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft

Mukamaana’s favorite products are the Inyabu Wall Hangings with the blue colour. She is excited to be making a variety of product shapes and designs and to be able to sell them to customers from around the world. She says that she is ready for many more orders to come!

WomenCraft_Mukamaanas Favorite ProductPhoto Courtesy of WomenCraft

Overall, Mukamaana is happy to be back in her community with her family. But she says that there is still insecurity in Burundi, which makes her worried. This is why she is especially happy to be able to come to Tanzania every day to be with her weaving group. She says that she has a really good relationship with her Tanzanian colleagues. She feels safe in Tanzania and says that she appreciates the peace and kindness of the Tanzanian people.

A special thank you to Mukamaana, Ueli Litscher, and the WomenCraft Team for your partnership and contributing to our interview series!

To shop our collection of woven baskets created by artisans at WomenCraft, visit our site. 

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