Part 2: Pascasie started the pilgrimage back to her village only to find nothing; no house, no husband, no children. She decided to head back to Kigali and try to survive. As she was leaving, 5 orphans from her village followed her, they had nowhere to go and no one to take care of them. She took them in. She found an abandoned house and would go into the fields digging up potatoes to feed everyone.
After a year she decided she needed to go back to her village to search for her family. When she got back, she found out she was the only Tutsi widow in the whole village. That day she took in another 7 orphans.
She suffered from severe depression but she had to be strong for the kids. She came up with an idea. How can I get out of this situation? She was a weaver by trade so she gathered others to weave to try to make money, to build community, and to move on. But there was no market. In 1997, a project came that heard about her and how she took in the orphans and helped her create a market. She started selling baskets.
Pascasie needed the truth. She needed to know what happened to her family. She went to the prison where the perpetrators were kept. They wouldn’t talk to her. She came back week after week. Finally, the perpetrators agreed to talk to her. She found out they had killed her husband and her 3 of her children. They asked for forgiveness. She finally had the truth. She continued to go back to the prison and she taught them to weave. “They needed to have some skills when they leave prison to make money.” She invited them to weave with her. They created a beautiful basket together called the Peace Basket. She felt the basket united people.
I asked Pascasie how she could be so strong. She said her faith in God made her strong. She had survived 2 Rwandan wars and she knew after each war help always came. She just had to hang on.
Around 2009, her cooperative started weaving for Azizi Life. It takes 6 days to make 1 Peace Basket. We have sold this basket for years in The Marketplace and I never knew this story. Now I will definitely look at it and think of Pascasie and her strength, resiliency, and a level of forgiveness many of us will never understand.