Claudine Yalipende

Claudine Yalipende is quiet when she works. Her precise fingers and determined hands weaving strands of pagne fabric into her loom. With her calm demeanor she is a faithful presence in the Ndara team. She sets her loom up by herself and gets to work in the early hours of the morning, often before anyone of her colleagues have arrived.

Claudine’s calm and determination was useful to her when she and her family lived through the cycles of war and violence in CAR. They moved from IDP camp to IDP camp after they lost their house and belongings, but as the mother of the family Claudine kept her little crew together and always tried to make the best of every day.

What is your role at Ndara?

I started as a weaver. My first creation was a set of four placemats, made out of orange and green cloth. Lately I have also been stitching rugs. So far I’ve made 2 rugs, but I think I’ll go back to weaving, I am very good at that and I really enjoy it.

What do you love most about your work?

Ndara means skill or wisdom in our language, and I never really felt that I had a skill. Now I have one! I can weave and create things that I never even knew how to think to do before. Besides that, it gives me an income which means that I don’t have to depend on my husband to find money for food, and who does not like to be independent?

What are your dreams and wishes for the future?

I want peace for this country and for my children. I want to send them to school so they can get good jobs. Other than that I would like to be able to weave a really really big mat! I’ve seen them on pictures and I don’t know how they do them, as I’ve only learned to make smaller mats now. So I dream of making a very big mat, in all the colors that I prefer.

Racey Henderson