“My name is Saida – I’m from Rwanda. I have four children, the oldest being 17 and the youngest, just one month old! Before coming to Australia in 2009, I had to leave Rwanda because of the war, and had lived in many refugee camps, including in Tanzania in 1996. When I was in refugee camps in Tanzania, I was an interpreter, helping to translate letters for the United Nations Refugee Agency and the government. When the refugee camp I was living in was forcefully closed by the Tanzanian Government, we had no choice but to return to Rwanda and go to another refugee camp. I knew that coming to Australia would be a safe place for me to live.
When first arriving in Australia, I missed my family very much and felt lonely, and especially missed the friendly neighbourhood culture in Rwanda. I started working as a family day care educator. Once I learned to drive, I worked as a volunteer in a Salvation Army shop.
Since then, I met Luz, the former CEO of SisterWorks, through the Springvale community. SisterWorks has helped me a lot. Now I feel like I have a family again. This family support helps me when I feel lonely. I make beaded jewellery from recycled magazines, using the traditional styles I learnt in Africa. I love lots of bright colours. Through SisterWorks, I have gone to markets and expanded my business. I was doing beading before I joined, but SisterWorks helped me learn how business goes in Australia—it’s not like African ways.
The SisterWorks team always look for markets for all of us, including me. Without them I couldn’t be selling my products, and I can now talk business language with people too. I want to have my own business selling jewellery, and I want to help others too. Beading is like meditation for me – when I’m beading I only focus on the beads, which is very relaxing.
If other people want to learn, I can help them. Many of the sisters at SisterWorks have come from backgrounds where they feel lonely, so I would love to help them learn beading, which can help me with my business, too”.