– No phone – No email – No education – HIV positive -Displaced by war – Traumatized – Speak only Acholi – Illiteracy- Single moms – Many kids –
22STARS uses their mind for business, passion for fashion and heart for the world to provide hope and a better future to the poorest of the poorest women living in Uganda. By giving our designers a plan to market and sell their products internationally they are able to earn an income to provide their families with housing, food, medicine and education.
However, it is really a challenge working with designers who have no phone, no email, no education, are HIV positive, war traumatized, cannot read and write, speak only Acholi and have very large families. Yes we could work with other Ugandan designers, who at least went already to college and live in a safe village, but the whole point is to help THOSE LADIES not others.. You might would say, why don’t you give them a phone? Well they will not always stay here.. Like two of our designers who earned money from 22STARS went back to their home to Lira in Northern Uganda, one to start building a house, and the other to see her family and get an eye operation. Also once they are there, they have no electricity in the villages, so they would charge their phone perhaps only once a week anyway. Why would you not help them getting an email address? Well most of our designers cannot read and write and speak only their local language. So there are many many challenges that we are facing while work with our ladies in the Acholi Quarter. But we are not giving up on them and are finding strategies to work with them and therefore we started the 22STARS project.
We believe that to really empower people to provide for themselves they need more than only a market for their jewellery: Part of our net profit will be used to finance our 22STARS projects, educating our designers and their children; they receive English lessons, learn about Income Generating Activities (IGA), get social support, health education and music, dance and drama classes. As 22STARS is still a small business we provide the following activities only occasionally and not as often as we would like to. Therefore if you are interested in volunteering and helping us with the following program, please feel free to email email@example.com.
IS THERE A FUTURE? YES THERE IS! JOIN US AND MAKE AN IMPACT!
– Jewellery designing – Adult literacy program – Income generating Activities (IGA) -Social support -Health Education- Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) classes –
Our designers made already beautiful jewellery from recycled paper, however we are training them on making new designs and improving their quality. Using different types of paper and making different styles of beads. Only by making unique high quality designs they are able to sell on the highly competitive jewellery market. Also we help them with the pricing of the jewellery. As some paper is way more expensive for them to buy then other kind of paper we explain them for which designs which material is the best to use. We give them an insight in marketing and selling strategies and show them how to have a smart business. Of course some of our designers prefer to only roll paper beads, and tell us that it is for them too difficult to learn new designs. We respect this and of course we let them stay in our program and make sure they can do the work they like so they will still be able to earn money for their families.
Adult literacy program
Uganda’s official languages are English and Swahili. However, most of our designers have never had the opportunity to learn English, because they could not afford to get an education. They mostly speak only Acholi, a language spoken in Northern Uganda. During times of war in the North our designers fled to Kampala, and started living with all other Acholi in an IDP camp: the Acholi Quarters. However, the people in Kampala do not speak Acholi, but English or their local language Luganda. So therefore the Acholi people are highly discriminated against. The language barrier severely restricts their chances of having a good career. To change this situation, we will offer them English lessons. Also most of our designers do not know how to write and read, as they grow up during times of war, they never went to school. We help them improve on their reading and writing skills, that at least they can start recognizing numbers and are able to place their signature under payment bills.
Income generating Activities (IGA)
Most of our designers live in the Acholi Quarter in extreme poverty and have little understanding of how to save money, budget their family’s needs or how to open a bank account. They need training in how to save their money and how to set goals for the future. We teach them how to invest their savings in other income generating activities. We want them to be able to join an existing business beyond 22STARS or to start their own business next to the bead making. For example Beatrice started to buy chicken and sell their eggs; Susan learned how to farm land and is selling her products, and Atim is saving up money for a bigger hairdryer to improve her business as hairdresser. We will teach them income generating activities (IGA) like poultry farming, piggery, and modern farming techniques and guiding them in the process of identifying their talents and skills.
Our designers live in extreme circumstances and have lost many family members. They have suffered abuse and are traumatized by the effects of the war. So we want to make sure that they receive psychological, mental and emotional help. What is revealed heals, but what is hidden kills. It is a very powerful therapy that somebody is there that listens to your stories. Our counsellors Moses and David both have experience in HIV/Aids counselling; they provide the designers with advice and guidance on how to stay healthy and take their medicines. Aida is available to women for one-to-one counselling about issues they don’t feel comfortable to share with men or in a group. When the women share their stories with each other they can see that others had the same sufferings and struggles and they can encourage each other and give advice. Beatrice for example has been living with Aids since 30 years now. She helps other young women who have just discovered that they are HIV positive how they can live with it in a positive way and that it doesn’t mean the end.
In addition to the social support we also educate our designers on health. Many of the women have been sick or have children who are sick. Besides medicine they often lack information about various health topics such as nutrition, prenatal care, Aids/HIV, hygiene, and family planning. In addition there are several “Reach-Out” organizations close to where the ladies live, that provide free counseling and medicine for HIV/Aids. We encourage the women to go there.
Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) classes
All our designers shared with us that what they really love is singing and dancing. So we offer them music, dance and drama classes. This enables them to relax, reducing their worries and rising the hope to live. This is a fun time for all the women and their children and it is also a time of sharing and healing for the women.