The Motley News

Bead for Life: The Women of Uganda

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I didn’t know anything about the African nation of Uganda outside of the movie Last King of Scotland. I knew that it was probably an impoverished nation, getting itself together after the dictatorship of Idi Amin. I knew, because of the latest buzz from YouTube, that Joseph Kony, of the LRA, has been stealing the country’s children and employing them as soldiers and sex slaves.

Yesterday, I was again confronted with how little I knew about the world outside my front door. I volunteered at the W.A.V.E Festival in my town, an event that brings local women together to celebrate artistry, entrepreneurship, and being a lady while doing all of that! My job was to take pictures for the event and while it was fun, I really wanted to buy some crafts that these local women made. Purchasing jewelry led me to this booth:

The booth’s organizer, is named Rini Ng and she’s been working with the organization called Beads For Life, which helps women of Uganda sell jewelry and shea butter products here in the states. That profit goes back to the women so they can help lead sustainable lives and send their children to school. What have I learned about Ugandan women?

  • On average, the women of Uganda work more than men. About 12-18 hours a day is devoted to agricultural work, keeping a household, raising children and caring for the sick. This is compared the 8-10 hour work day of a man
  • Girls drop out of school faster than boys, mainly to help or take over their mother’s responsibilities. Culturally speaking, educating girls isn’t as high of a priority as educating boys and though this hardly makes Uganda “novel” in the world of patriarchy, it does give girls another hoop to jump through if they want to better themselves and their people.
  • Because these girls have dropped out of school, many of them turn to the sex industry for money. This has led to a steep rise in HIV infections in women.

 Check out the website and read more information about the organization. See how Bead for Life helps people help themselves. Since I love using shea butter products, I went ahead and bought a bar of soap and a stick of chapstick. I felt good purchasing a product that didn’t alienate the producer. The profit of that product will go back to that producer and she will finally see the fruits of her labor. Maybe its the Marxist in me that sees it that way, but I like it all the same.

It’s my hope that Rini Ng and other aware women like her, continue taking an invest interest in their sisters abroad. Women do so much work to keep the world going and it shouldn’t go unrecognized. We should at least get the chance to live and raise our children healthily. So go Bead for Life!

My Ugandan bracelet made of recycled paper beads. Strong, life-changing and cute!


Author: Charish Halliburton

Writer and Editor for The Motley News

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