Burume Machumu: Woodcrafting refugee shares stories through sculptures

Burume Machumu is a refugee sculptor and storyteller who lives in Kiziba camp. He left DRC in 2003 with his wife and children, losing everything he had. He learned sculpting from a relative as an orphaned teenager. 

He did not let his past and the challenges of being a refugee stop him from pursuing his dream. Today, he sells his products to foreigners who visit the camp, hotels and art exhibitions in Karongi and Kigali. 

But he has been facing a major challenge as he relied on sporadic events and visitors in the camp, which made his income unpredictable and unstable. He wanted to grow his business, but he lacked the financial management and marketing skills to do so.

That’s when he joined Inkomoko and got business support. He was able to buy better tools and materials, produce high-quality art crafts and increase his sales. He says that Inkomoko has helped him to achieve his goals and improve his livelihood.

Burume giving us a tour of his showroom

“Inkomoko transformed my business in 2019 by teaching me how to manage my revenue, market my products and boost my income. With their support, I have improved the quality of my art crafts and attracted more customers.” Burume said. 

Burume is proud of his work and hopes to inspire other refugees to pursue their talents and aspirations. “My sculptures celebrate our culture in Rwanda and DRC. One sculpture shows a girl with a book and a phone, symbolizing her education and empowerment. Another sculpture shows men sailing with Igiseke, a traditional basket.  This represents how when we visit our families, we bring something to show our love. We also travel across the rivers and lakes to support each other and share our stories. This shows our unity and resilience,” he added.

Burume’s business has grown tremendously since he joined Inkomoko and acquired skills in financial management and marketing. He now has a steady monthly income of 300,000 Rwf ($250) from displaying and selling his products in hotels and shops. He also boosts his earnings by participating in seasonal exhibitions, where he can make up to 1 million Rwf ($900) in a single event. Burume has expanded his workforce to include a full-time employee and a part-time helper.

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