My name is Saida, I’m from Rwanda. I have four children. The oldest is 17, the youngest, one month old! I had to leave Rwanda because of the war, and I’ve lived in various refugee camps. In 1996, the camp in Tanzania I had been living in was closed by force by the Tanzanian government, so we had to go back to Rwanda. Again, in 1998, we had to go to another refugee camp.
I came to Australia in May 2009. I knew that Australia is a safe place to live.
I was an interpreter in refugee camps in Tanzania translating letters for United Nations Refugee Agency and the government, and I met Australians that way. I was lonely in Australia at first because I missed my family. Here, people aren’t involved in each other’s lives. In Rwanda, neighbours used to come over and chat with you. In Australia, I worked as a family day care educator. Once I learned to drive, I worked as a volunteer in a Salvation Army shop.
I make beaded jewellery from recycled magazines. I love lots of bright colours. I use the traditional styles I learnt in Africa.
I met Luz 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.
Through SisterWorks, I’ve 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.
SisterWorks people always look for markets for all of us, for me. Without them I couldn’t be selling. I can now talk business language with people.
I want to have my own business selling jewellery and help others too. Beading is like a meditation for me. When I’m beading I only focus on the beads and I relax.
If other people want to learn, I can help them. In SisterWorks there are lots of people who are feeling lonely, so maybe I can help them learn beading. Then it can help them—and help me with my business, too.