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Misago Merida

Misago Merida

Misago - Photo Collection
Republic of Burundi
38 years old
Biography collected and written by Luanda Bauma Primo
Photos by Luanda Bauma Primo


My name is Misago Merida from Burundi. I’m the single mother of three boys. I decorate bed sheets using a needle and thread. I fled Burundi to Tanzania, which is where I met a Burundian woman who taught me how to decorate bed sheets. It is an old Burundian cultural tradition whereby people believed that sleeping on decorated bed sheets brings good luck. For example, people who are getting married would use it on their honeymoon in order to be blessed with many children. I studied the skill for a year and a half when living in Tanzania. When I finished, I started working alongside that woman. Due to insecurity and other reasons, I was forced to flee Tanzania to Malawi.

When I reached Dzaleka, life was very difficult. My husband left me. I was miserable, and I did not know where to start rebuilding my life. For three years I lived in extreme poverty, and I was about to give up when by God’s grace I met with a Malawian friend. I explained to him how I was suffering, and he felt sympathy. He gave me a piece of land because I told him that I could farm if I had the chance.

Since 2016, I have been farming. My life has changed. I take care of my children with the little I get from farming and making decorations. In 2019, I started decorating bed sheets again, and as of now I have many customers and the business is going very well. I spend a month to finish each project, and I earn 15,000 Malawi Kwacha per month. The customer brings his/her own sheet and threads according to their preferences, and only pays for labor.

Life in a refugee camp is very hard. Job opportunities are narrow, but despite difficulties and hardships, I’m surviving with my children. I ask people who have the heart to help to come in and support my work in order to showcase and expand my business through the whole of Malawi– and why not the whole of Africa as well? I advise my fellow women in Dzaleka to learn at least one new skill, or to look for something to do in order to improve their lives.