New spring collection in our shop

Well, spring has sprung (we hope!) and we wanted to share some great news with you…

We have a wonderful new spring collection of handmade, ethical and eco goodies for you and your home in our shop.

>>Click to visit our shop now>> 

From gorgeous, cuddly pram blankets, super colourful sun tops, dapper gents scarves and bright, eco cushions covers and table runners  – each of our products has a story behind – the story of the wonderful woman who made it and the child whose life has been transformed because you’ve brought it.

As you may remember we use all our profit to children orphaned by HIV in the slums of Kampala. One of the ways we do this is with education grants that help children like Fiona Nakazwe, 10. 

Here is a little film we made with Fiona and her adopted grandmother Sarah, so they can tell you for themselves how awamu is changing their lives. 

Fiona’s mother died some years ago and she was living with her father, tragically he also became very ill and Fiona had to drop out of school to care for him before he passed away last year. Distant relatives then took her to live in a village outside Kampala, leaving her friends and all connections to her parents behind.

Her relatives didn’t want to pay for her to go to school and she was being used a domestic servant – digging all day in the fields, looking after other children, cooking, fetching water and only eating if there was some food left over. 

Luckily, Sarah Kanyike (widower and guardian of 10 grand children) had been friends with Fiona’s parents and when she went to attend the funeral she saw that Fiona looked ill and was very unhappy “I could see these people just wanted to use her for fetching water. I decided to bring her to become one of my family of 10 to make it 11. She calls me grandmother, because the rest of my family also calls me grandma. She was welcomed here by my family – I told them ‘she is one of you”.

Your awamu purchase has helped Fiona to enrol in primary school where she is now excelling..

Fiona told me “Ja-ja (grandma) Sarah takes me as her real family, I’m happy because I’m now one of the family. The day I was going to start school I woke up early and started to get dressed – then grandma told me ‘what are you doing – it’s only 4.30 – school won’t open for another 4 hours’ but I couldn’t go back to sleep I was too excited”.

There are now 66 children enrolled in primary school thanks to the education programme we run in partnership with ActionAid Uganda. 

On behalf of Fiona, Sarah and all teh children and women we work with in Kampala – Thank you xX

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How awamu works

For every beautiful item produced and sold there is an equally beautiful change happening in the communities of our tailors in Kampala – every penny raised through sales and donations is used to support orphaned and vulnerable children and to train women with the skills they need to support their families.

Awamu means ‘together’ in Luganda the main language spoken in Kampala, Uganda. We chose it as it reflects the name and spirit of both the women’s groups that we work with.

We are passionate about changing the lives of children in the slums of Kampala and we love handmade, ethical production and creating a connection between you and the women who put their time, skill and loving care into making these items for you.

We are a social enterprise working with ActionAid Uganda and labour of love for everyone who volunteers their time to get involved.

We really hope you like what we have to offer and will tell all your friends about us.

With love from everyone at awamu

Meet Jaliya and ‘jaja’ Regina and see how we are helping to change the lives of children in the slums of Kampala

I just opened my email to find this picture (above) of Jaliya and news that she is studying hard for next round for exams that are coming up very soon.

This makes us immensely happy – and is giving me a great reason to share this little film we made with you today so you can see just how your support is changing the lives of children in Kampala.

Please, please watch it. If it makes you feel half as proud as I do right now, it’ll make your day too. And when you’re done, please share it with everyone you know – through twitterfacebookyoutube – to spread the word about awamu and help us to change even more lives for the better.

Jaliya is the inspiration behind awamu. You may recall that Jaliya suffered extreme neglect at the hands of her uncle when she was sent to live with him following the death of both of her parents from AIDS. She was just seven years old.

Fearing she too had the illness and may “contaminate” his children, she was kept in isolation in a tiny hut, barely big enough for her to stand in. Little Jaliya slept alone each night on a sack and was forbidden to play with her cousins, go to school or even touch the family’s possessions.

After hearing reports of a sick child, Regina – a member of the Tusitukirewamu Women’s Group – and our heroine, found Jaliya half-starved with a swollen tummy and coughing up blood.

Regina pledged there and then to look after Jaliya, offer her the love and comfort she so desperately craved and nurse her back to health. Although she knew it would be a struggle, she found a place in her home for her alongside the 10 other children in her care who’d also lost their parents to AIDS related illnesses.

Five years on, Jaliya is a healthy and happy 11-year-old. She’s doing well in school, she plays with her friends and brothers and sisters and, most importantly she has the love of a grandmother (or ‘ja-ja’) from Regina. A love that is so obviously reciprocated.

And this is thanks to you and your support of awamu. 100% of your donations and proceeds from your purchases go to support orphaned children like Jaliya, in the slums of Kampala and the wonderful, selfless women that take them into their care.

We help to train women in the communities in income generating schemes so they can earn a living to support themselves and their extended families.

And we support networks of women who have been similarly affected by HIV who give their time and energy to helping the most vulnerable in their communities. They walk the street of the slums, seeking out children and adults in need of their support. They encourage them to confront their fears, navigate the medical system and offer care and protection to those who are too weak to look after themselves or their families.

With very few overheads (the cost of website/the materials we buy for our products) a little goes a long way…

£243  could cover the cost of skills training for one woman over two years

£42 could help us refurbish the women’s groups old sewing machines

£139 could buy a new sewing machine

£59 could buy a school uniform, schools fees, books and pens

£16 could buy a good pair of school shoes

£69 could provide small loan to help a guardian start a small business that will help them feed their family

£22 (the equivalent of one summer dress) could cover the cost of school fees for one term

£483 could cover the school for seven years

£62 could buy warm clothing, mosquito net, mattresses, school uniform and scholastic materials for one child

£613 could support one child through seven years of Primary Education and a small start up loan so their guardian can earn enough money to feed their family

So thank you for every gift you have bought from us. for every share on facebook and twitter, every donation and, most importantly, every encouraging word you have given us.

Sarah Namaganda shows you how to make her recycled paper beads

Sarah Namaganda shows you how to make her recycled paper beads….

You can buy Sarah’s necklaces in our shop

There is a massive problem with rubbish in the slums of Bwaise and Makerer as the goverment privatised collection and families can’t afford to pay for it to be taken away.

When there is heavy rain Bwaise and Makerer floods, rubbish gets washed into water channels that over flow and runs through peoples houses.

The women’s groups we work with are trying to find creative ways to recycle what is around them.

By buying these beads or any of our beautifully products you will be helping Sarah and the women we work with earn an income from there craft as well as helping them to change the lives of the most vulnerable children in their community me.

Each of Sarah’s necklaces are individual and unique – please take a look.

Sarah cares for 6 children (not 16 as she says in the video – lost in translation). Her own daughter and five adopted children including her niece Delphine.

Though she supports many more orphaned children in the community.

They live in small small hut made from corrugated iron and mud and with two people to a single bunk bead.

All of the children she looks after are in school she told us “I make these beads so my children can go to school. Education is everything , my children must go to school so they can all have better lives than this“.

 
 
Many thanks to Josie Gallo for editing my shoddy footage!

Today in Kampala: Tutorials, biscuits and wee

It’s been a long day – lots of tutorials on new designs and products with Sarah and Florence.

So I will spare you the words and just share a few photos from the day….

Sarah with Jackson, now a belting, lively little fella. Sitting on his mum’s lap whilst she still manages to sew!

This is Frank, he is 9 months. He is the son of one of Sarah’s trainee tailors. Look at those big sad eyes! He refused to give his new awamu sun hat back after modeling it for us…but did offer loads of cuddles as well as smearings of biscuit and weeing on me.

This is also Sarah, she is guardian of two of the children we are supporting through school. She was showing how she makes her recycled paper beads.

This is Jackson again – finally smiling whilst kindly agreeing to model a new design of dress we are working on!

More from Kampala tomorrow.

Today in Kampala: compliments, meetings, old friends, urban gardens & elephants

Today was the first day I got to catch up with my friends at MAWDA and TWG (the two women’s groups we work with).  

I was greeted with the compliment ‘Wow, you have grown fat’ (this really is a compliment!)…which was nicely counter balanced with ‘But you look so young’. Thanks ladies!

Most of our morning was taken up planning our skills training project but then I went to Bwaise to catch up with Regina, Rukia and Robina.

Things have changed a little around this part of Bwaise – the government finally seem to be taking some action to stop the flooding that occurs several times a year with heavy rains and the drainage system can’t handle it.

There are little pockets of green popping up all around the community. This is an ‘urban tower garden’ funded by the Belgium govt. as part of a Kampala integrated environment management project.

They’re pretty awesome – once built I am told that a ‘tower’ like this can produce enough food to supplement five families diets for up to three years! They are easy to look after requiring little watering or weeding – easily managed by even those that are frail.

They cost around £84 pounds to build – the most expensive part is getting the delivery of nutrition rich soil.

Regina and Rukia report that the gardens have transformed the diet of their extended families “we can now have fresh vegetables and make ‘sauce’ everyday where we used to only eat matoke or posho” said Regina “It is so good for the children to have fresh food and it tastes better too”

Only a few women were able to benefit from the pilot project though 12 other women have received training but don’t have the funds to buy the materials and seeds they need to start their garden…..could this be the start of another awamu project!

Regina, Jaliya and me!

Regina took me to meet Jaliya from school. Jaliya and Regina are the people that inspired us to set up awamu.

Jaliya is the first child we supported and now she is happily living with Regina and has just moved up to class P4.

She is getting some of the best grades in her school – she came 2nd in class! We are incredibly proud of her hard work.

 

Work has already started on our new products – good news for those that are waiting for elephants – they are almost ready to make their journey to the UK!

More from me tomorrow!

I have put a few more pictures on our facebook page for you.

 

 

 

VIDEO: the amazing and inspiring people we work with

To really understand the reality of life in the slums of Kampala and the amazing and inspiring people we are working with watch this film NOW!

Florence, Regina, Jaliya and Emma show you what inspired us to start our litttle project in this short film.

Awamu is dedicated to helping Regina, and her network of women, protect and care for children like Jaliya.

As you will see their support means the difference between life and death for many in their community.

We’re now trying to raise more money to:

  • set up an income generation training programme to help more women like Regina who are taking on the care of orphaned children
  • support more orphaned children with the basics they need to be able to enroll in primary school

If you would like to get involved by making a donation or have any bright ideas for helping us to raise more money we really want to hear – please get in touch!

A special thank you to Ian Warren for finishing this before heading back to Uganda.

Happy Christmas one and all!

YOU CAN DONATE HERE

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