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Rwandan basket weaving
Portrait of Patrisiya Kayobera by Stephen King, Worcester Magaze, Rwandan basket weaving, 2015; Patrisiya Kayobera; Worcester, Massachusetts; Unravelled rice bag rewoven as basket;
Portrait of Patrisiya Kayobera by Stephen King, Worcester Magaze, Rwandan basket weaving, 2015
Patrisiya Kayobera
Worcester, Massachusetts
Unravelled rice bag rewoven as basket
Rwandan basket made by Patrisiya Kayobera; Rwanda basket weaving; 2015: Lowell, Massachusetts; Unravelled rice bag fibers
Patrisiya Kayobera speaking with festival attendee in Folk Craft area; Rwandan basket weaving; 2015: Lowell, Massachusetts
Portrait of Patrisiya Kayobera holding one of her baskets; Rwandan basket weaving; 2014: Worcester, Massachusetts
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Patrisiya Kayobera
Worcester, MA
Patrisiya Kayobera was born and raised in a farming family in Rwanda. By age 14, she learned to weave baskets by watching other women in her village. Two years later, war broke out and Patrisiya's parents were killed, leaving her an orphan. She made the decision to run on her own. After a harrowing journey to Burundi, she found help.

In 2009, Patrisiya emigrated and settled in Worcester. Within a few days, she heard about Refugee Artisans of Worcester (RAW), an organization supplying artisans with equipment, materials, and marketing. Patrisiya finds great comfort in returning to the craft of basket weaving. "Today, I am still the same person that I was in Rwanda. I like to garden and make baskets. I am glad that I am a part of RAW because it gives me a chance to be good at something, and I am proud of that."

The type of lidded basket Patrisiya makes is called agaseke. Originally woven by the Tutsi women, it is popular for gift giving, especially for weddings. Agaseke are made from natural materials like reed, sisal, and raffia, as well as from recycled materials, like unraveled rice bags. In recent years, these baskets have become a symbol of unity for the Rwandan people, who suffered so terribly during the1990s Rwandan Civil War.
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