Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two More Awava Artisans Receive Interest Free Loans!

by Kate von Achen

On Friday July 16th 2 more Awava artisans received interest free loans!

Each time I walk in to Uganda Craft, the first thing I see is Rose Ssanyu’s big smile welcoming me in as she sits on her stool working on her latest masterpiece. I walk to her, squat down and shake her hand for a while as we ask each other how we are, how our families are doing, etc. before turning around to greet all of the other employees. Roses’ greeting always ensures that my Uganda Craft experience that day is sure to be amazing.

Rose is a widowed mother of three who suffers from disabilities brought on by polio, and cares for her elderly parents. She has worked as a shop attendant at Uganda Craft since November of 1984. Rose cares for her parents and children on income earned through her job with Uganda Craft as well as making small banana fiber baskets, woven key chains, and beautiful banana fiber angel ornaments (Awava has sold tons of these around the holiday’s!). Rose was in need of money to finish paying school fees for the term, and to pay for medicine for her parents and she received that money, along with an expanded Awava order (new products by Rose coming in September) on Friday! Her children will now finish out the school term uninterrupted and her parents will be receiving some much needed medical attention!

Yudaya Nakibuka was our featured Artisan this month! A wonderfully charismatic woman with 3 children and 3 grandchildren who has been suffering continual headaches due to poor eyesight. Yudaya needed money to pay for an eye exam and glasses and asked for a bit more so she could buy basket materials in bulk to get a better price as well as make her dying process more efficient by dying larger batches of raffia and banana fiber.

When Hanna and I reached Uganda Craft, I saw Yudaya sitting outside waiting for us. I was expecting to be greeted by her big mischievous smile which is ever present on her face, but I could tell something was wrong. Something beyond her frequent headaches. Yudaya informed me that she had lost her 28-year-old nephew in the Rugby Club bombing on July 11th. My heart sank. I could feel her sadness and it consumed me. I had sent a message to check on all of the artisans and Uganda Craft staff first thing Monday morning and was told everyone was alright. Yudaya’s nephew died Wednesday morning at Mulago hospital from injuries sustained in the blast. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Yudaya’s family in this difficult time.