All our designers live in Uganda: a country on the equator in East Africa. It is enclosed by South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Congo-Kinshasa. Since its independence in 1962 from the United Kingdom, it has know a violent history. The country’s history is tainted by people such as Idi Amin, who in the 70’s made hundreds of thousands of victims, and Joseph Kony who terrorized the North of Uganda between 1988 and 2006 with his Lord’s Resistance Army, consisting mainly of child soldiers, and who is still active in the neighbouring countries.
There is peace in Uganda now and we can even see a little progress, but the consequences of the violence in the Northern regions are still felt every day and make returning impossible. During the war, thousands of people fled to the South of Uganda. Many of these refugees ended up in Internal Displaced Person’s Camps (IDP’s). One of those camps, which is located just outside the capital Kampala, is known as the Acholi Quarter where 10.000 people live. The camp is named because the majority of people come from Acholiland in the North. Most of our 22STARS designers live here.
It is rarely being a called a camp anymore, it is regarded more as a neighborhood. There are shops, barbershops, cafés and bars. Everything in miniature format for the space in the quarter is very limited. In that respect the Acholi Quarter is a neighbourhood like any other neighbourhood. But unfortunately, this neighbourhood is nothing more than a piece of land that was given by the king to his people out of generosity. The district is overcrowded and occasionally cholera epidemics break out. There are neglected children walking around and there is a lot of drunkenness in the small main street. And just as in most slums and other IDP’s, sanitary facilities are completely inadequate, people suffer psychological traumas, there is a lack of education, a lot of people suffer from HIV and aids, there is no infrastructure, and the streets are littered with waste. Most of the houses are not more than hovels. Only 1 in 4000 houses have electricity and even less have running water. When it rains the whole area turns into a big mess because of its location on a hill, where the water keeps running down.
Because of the lack of opportunities a lot of women are forced to earn their living breaking rocks under very bad working conditions. Their daily wage is the equivalence of about 75 cents. They don’t earn enough to pay for health insurance, education or to save up for the future. They hardly earn enough to pay for their basic necessities such as food and shelter. It is virtually impossible to escape this poverty, with their biggest concern that without education their children await the same fate. But, surprisingly, also in these Acholi Quarters you will find a lot of energetic positive minded women, fighting for a better future for themselves and their children.
Among these women are the 22STARS designers creating beautiful jewellery out of 100% recycled paper at home. What they need is support, education and a way to market their products internationally. You can help them with this!