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 Patricia Wilfred, an incredible artisan at WomenCraft who often hosts refugees who have resettled in her community. To hear her story from the WomenCraft Team, keep reading below.
Patricia Wilfred is 72 years of age and lives in the Mubayange village in Ngara, a remote part of northwestern Tanzania. Patricia has 10 children between the ages of 24 to 53 years. Even with her age, she still enjoys to tend to her farms where she grows maize, beans, cassava, groundnuts, and some coffee.
Patricia is a passionate singer. Her favorite thing is to get together with her friends in her church choir to practice their songs. She also really enjoys weaving and she’s excited that this is how she can provide for her family. Patricia’s favorite product is the Wall Hanging in Konokono design.
Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft
On a regular day, Patricia wakes up early to prepare breakfast for her family and to clean her front porch and the surroundings of her house. After breakfast, she starts weaving until noon, when she prepares lunch. She continues weaving in the afternoon, until the evening when she prepares dinner.
Patricia joined WomenCraft in 2007. As an experienced weaver, she has become the Secretary of her weaving group. Her responsibilities include receiving orders from the WomenCraft office and distributing them among the artisans in her group. She sets the production times for each order, which she communicates to the WomenCraft office, and she closely monitors production progress for her group’s orders. Patricia is proud about her role as Secretary. She enjoys receiving orders and the responsibility to oversee the timely fulfillment of each order.
Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft
Patricia is proud to be a member of WomenCraft because she sees the positive impact the business is having on her community and her household. Through WomenCraft, she has access to a reliable income in contrast to farming, which is reliant on the weather and climate. As a WomenCraft artisan, she has been able to build a new house and to provide three meals a day for her family. As orders continue to grow, Patricia is now able to spend the majority of her time weaving and she hires temporary farm laborers to tend to her fields. Like this, she can maximize her income and still produce all the food she needs for her family.
Mubayange, to this day, still hosts former refugees from neighboring countries like Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Patricia is proud that her community has always taken in refugees in need. She describes how the local community and refugees live together in harmony, working together and helping each other out in farming and general community duties. Patricia sees it as part of her duty to help those in need, including refugees who often come with no money or belongings. She says there are several cases where former refugees married someone from the host community forming mixed families between hosts and refugees.
Patricia herself hosted a refugee girl for three years. The girl fled violence in her community and there weren’t any refugee camps at the time that could accommodate her. Patricia describes how the girl became part of her own family, sharing meals, working together in her farm, living together, etc. Eventually the girl settled in the community and married and started her own family in the community.
A special thank you to Patricia, 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.