Invisible Children is is a movement seeking to end the conflict in Uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers. Molly, Vie Safari's US Correspondent, worked for Invisible Children last year in Gulu, Uganda. Today, Vie Safari is featuring Mend, a bag making program.
"All of Invisible Children's initiatives are incredible, extremely well thought-out and sustainable. It was an honor to be able to work directly with the Mend program in Gulu. The women have experienced extensive trama in their lives, (all 17 seamstresses supported by Mend are former abductees), yet they always seem so happy, always smiling, making jokes and dancing. Every time we walked to the Mend center, you could hear the laughter from half a mile away! Invisible Children has created a beautiful space for these women to be themselves and have a community among those who had a similar experience," said Molly
Mend is a social enterprise geared toward facilitating financial independence and development for vulnerable women in northern Uganda. The 17 seamstresses supported by Mend are former abductees, who were forced to become child soldiers or wives to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commanders. These women were lucky enough to escape, often with children of their own, but after returning home, were ostracized due to their former affiliation with the rebels. Taken captive at a tender age, many lack a basic education and upon their escape from the LRA, were taken to rehabilitation centers, where they received three months of counseling and basic training in tailoring. With a skill for which an already flooded market exists, many were left without the means to support themselves and their children through a career as a seamstress.
Mend is built to have both sustainable social and financial impact. By providing the seamstresses of Mend more marketable and economically beneficial outlets for their skills, Mend has helped reduce poverty, truly improving the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable in northern Uganda. With each new bag, the seamstresses improve in skill, versatility and confidence.
To learn more, and to shop for beautiful bags, visit invisiblechildren.com/mend