It is the week of love - with Valentine’s day, sweet messages and jewelry sales across social media as well as brick and mortar stores. But, at Tugende Design, we’re sharing the love by investing some of our profit in women empowerment projects.
Over the last few months, one of our lead artisans, Lucy, has been training a new group of women in bead making. Lucy is an amazing woman, beautiful, strong, resilient and full of inspiration. We met her in Jinja a while back as part of the outreach efforts by our community partner Ring of Hope. She makes beautiful jewelry. If you look at our various designs, Lucy makes the most complicated and intricate designs, real signature pieces. See our Abambejja and Nnabagareka necklace designs as examples.
For Lucy, making jewelry was a way to escape the horrendous working conditions as an alcohol distiller (see our 5 min video). The outdoor distilleries have no protection. There are large drums filled with alcohol that often explode, burning and even killing the women nearby. To make matters worse, the air is full of toxic alcohol fumes, dust and smoke and the run off burns their feet if they aren’t careful where they step. And, as a mother, Lucy had no choice but to take her children with her to the distillery despite the dangers. But, Lucy is a success story. She is talented, entrepreneurial and creative and now she makes beautiful jewelry for Tugende Design.
We told Lucy about a neighboring community, about 40 minutes away from where she lives. The women in the Kakira community is facing great hardship and similar circumstances that Lucy herself went through. They told us they want training and skills, so that they can work, make money and provide for their families. When discussing this with Lucy, she eagerly volunteered. She came up with a list of materials they would need and a training program for her to visit the community twice a week.
So for the last two months, we have funded Lucy to train the other women in jewelry and craft making using paper beads. They got started by learning to cut the paper strips, roll them into tight paper beads, varnishing them for durability and then string them into gorgeous necklaces. I get pictures and updates on their progress, but can’t wait to see what they are up to when I visit Uganda this May.
And, that is how we share the love - investing in women empowerment!