While others families collectively participate in making ends meet for a bright future for their children, Dorotera Niragire works tirelessly to look after her four children single handedly.
She has two daughters and two sons and she weaves so that her children can get food and an education.
Niragire’s success depends on how well she convinces craft shop owners to buy her products. She used to travel from her village in Rulindo district to sell her mats in Kigali city.
“My husband left me with our children and he wants nothing to do with us. He married another woman. Luckily I always weaved and we are surviving on the money I get after selling the mats,” Niragire said.
A big-sized colourful mat goes for Rwf4,000 while the smaller one is Rwf2,000 after negotiating.
“I come to town every time I have weaved about fifteen mats. At times when I need money so badly it doesn’t matter how many I have weaved,” she explains.
She later shifted from Rulindo district to Gigarama cell in Kicukiro district to curb down on transport costs.
She uses raw material such as threads, colour and sisal to weave a mat—which takes about two days to complete.
“To add colourful portions in the mat, I boil water and pour portions of the colour in water. I soak the sisal into the hot coloured water,” she explains.
Born in Rulindo District on April 5th, 1968, she didn’t get the chance of seeing her father because he died before she was born. She grew up with her mother and an older sister.
“I attended Rulindo Primary School before joining the Convent in 1984. The convent was headed by catholic nuns. While at the convent, I was taught how to weave. I learnt to weave different things such as baskets and artistic mats,” she recalls.
“I enjoyed the three years I spent at the convent since I learnt a lot about life. I’m surviving financially thanks to the skills I got from the convent,” says Niragire.
While at the convent, the nuns sold the mats and baskets they had weaved and gave 30 percent of the money collected to Niragire and other students.
In 1987 she left the convent to get married to Silver Rwasa and had four children. But he left her for another woman a few years ago.
“I continued weaving even after getting married and we shared responsibilities with my husband. I would sell what I have weaved and pay school fees for the children or even buy tangible commodities at home,” she said.
Niragire’s eldest daughter is in her final year in secondary school, her second child studies carpentry at Rulindo Vocational School.
“My third born completed primary school but I don’t have enough money to pay for his secondary school while the last born is in Primary three,” she explains.
Niragire said she does not have luxury time because she is struggling with life so that her children don’t have to suffer in the future.