The Kony 2012 video burst into our collective awareness in the space of about a day. Just as quickly, the critiques poured in. One particularly stuck with me: arresting Kony is one thing, but how about addressing the poverty and struggles of everyday Ugandans?
How do we do that? Here's one way.
The Colorado based charity Bead for Life pays fair trade prices to Ugandan women who make bead jewelry out of recycled paper.
-train the beaders
-pay beaders individually and directly
-help beaders set up savings accounts (the vast majority have never had one)
-give business training to set up enterprises of their own
-match funds to help members get their businesses started
-work with members to buy their house
-help members build a house
-give vocational training to youths ages 16 - 20
-provide malaria diagnosis and treatment
-provide family planning counselling
-provide HIV/AIDS screening
In North America and Europe, they:
-provide bead jewelry and support materials for volunteers to host bead jewelry selling parties
-teach a five hour hands-on curriculum for middle and high schools about extreme poverty and how students can get involved
The project launched in 2004. It's been successful enough for them to add another component, paying women fair trade prices for picking and processing shea nuts for soap, lip balm and skin cream.
Here are more details on their work helping beaders build and own their own houses. The dwellings are part of Friendship Village:
-Built on former pasture land
-132 houses (so far), each containing an impoverished family, most of whom came from one room huts made of sticks and mud with dirt floors and rusty tin roofs, occupied by up to ten people and prone to flooding in the rain.
-Friendship Village houses are made of bricks, cement flooring, sheet iron roofs. Most have two bedrooms and a living area. No running water or electricity, but there are two communal hand-pumped deep-drilled wells, designed to prevent bacterial intrusion. Each house has a ventilated two-pit latrine and bathing area.
-Houses are built by the beaders and other members of the community.
-Beaders make a down payment, and pay their mortgage with bead jewelry.
-The village now includes a football field and a garbage burning area.
-There are copious gardens where villagers grow cabbage, sweet potatoes, corn and beans, which comprise a substantial portion of their diet. They also grow flowers.
-The village has its own governing committee, with nine officers overseeing security, youth programs and much else.
-The goal is that the village will be entirely owned and run by its residents.
If you'd like to help people in Uganda beyond spreading the Kony 2012 video (or critiquing it), check this charity out. Visit their website. Read the report on them by charity oversight organization Guidestar. Host a bead party. Order some jewelry or shea butter soap. Help a woman earn money to house and feed her family and send her kids to school.