Friday, February 25, 2011

Our Uganda Friday: Elections... and Some Dancing

by Hanna Schwing

Uganda's presidential and parliamentary, as well as local elections took place last Friday and this Wednesday respectively. There was a lot of concern that violence would take place because of elections. Ugandan elections in the past have been occasionally violent, and it seemed possible that the spirit of revolution would sweep in from north Africa. Presidential and parliamentary elections passed by with almost no violence, and worries shifted to what would happen when results were on announced on Sunday. Sunday passed by without many incidents and with many armed soldiers strolling around to ensure peace, if disturbed, would be forcefully restored.

When voters took to the polls for local elections on Wednesday, there were many clashes at voting sites. The clashes in Kampala were settled when Kampala's mayoral elections were rescheduled. The army was deployed in some other areas to restore peace. Opposition members have called for peaceful demonstrations calling for a revote of presidential and parliamentary ballots, but it seems unlikely that will happen.

Despite Wednesday's violent scuffles, life seems to be very much returning to normal.

Any Kampalans (Kampalites?) wishing to let loose after the weeks of worry can indulge in a night of dance tonight at the 8th Dance Week Uganda Festival at the National Theatre. Tonight's performances of contemporary dance from around the world are free, but there's a charge for Saturday and Sunday night performances: 10,000 UGX for a one night pass and 15,000 UGX for a two night pass. It's sure to be better than staying at home and obsessively checking for election news.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Awava at Weaver's!

Awava products beautifully displayed in the Weaver's Department Store storefront at 9th and Massachusetts Street in lovely downtown Lawrence, KS! Thank you Tana Ahlen, for the photos!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gulu Trip February 8-10

by Hanna Schwing

Early last Tuesday, Darlyne and I arrived within seconds of each other at the Post Office, pulling up on boda bodas laden with bags full of fabric and zippers to take with us to Gulu. After our bags were thoroughly sniffed by security dogs, we purchased our tickets, paid the extra fee for our luggage, and boarded the Post Bus. Because the Post Bus keeps a strict schedule, it often departs Kampala with empty seats, and Darlyne and I were lucky enough to share a three-seat row between ourselves and stretch out a bit.

A little Kampala traffic

The five hour bus ride was uneventful apart from having the most amazing chapati (a delicious oily flat bread available across East Africa) possible, purchased exactly halfway between Kampala and Gulu. We, nevertheless, felt exhausted when we arrived in Gulu Tuesday afternoon, and spent an hour at Hotel Kakanyero unpacking and recovering from the long bus ride. Uganda is in the middle of an intense dry season, and it was especially hot and dusty in Gulu.

After our brief bus trip recovery, we walked to meet Lucy, Esther and Concy at Lucy's new shop, just across the street from the Gulu market and a few steps from Jojo's Palace. I hadn't seen the tailors for two months, and seeing them again felt like a little Awava reunion. Darlyne and I exchanged greetings with the tailors, asking about each person's Christmas (good), New Year (good), parents (good), children (back in school after their holiday) and business (good). The new shop space was perfect, with enough room to work comfortably and a back room to be used for storage and to allow customers to change if they were trying on clothes. Greetings thoroughly exchanged, Darlyne and I returned to Hotel Kakanyero to shower and do a little work before dinner.

Lucy's shop sign, a bit worn but still effective

Making our trip especially pleasant was the ability to meet up with several friends from Kampala, including Abigail Kajumba. Darlyne, Abigail and I had an early dinner at a cafe nearby, chatting for several hours before we walked back to our hotel to sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast with Abigail and her colleague, Paul, exchanging ideas about what would happen during the elections to begin in a week and a half. The consensus was that despite the revolutions happening in northern Africa, Uganda's election would be fairly peaceful. Darlyne and I finished breakfast and said our farewells to Abigail and Paul. We then returned to our room to pack up fabrics to bring to Lucy's new shop.

Walter, a tailor who also works with Lucy, met us at the hotel and helped us carry the fabric to the shop. Darlyne and I quickly set up in the backroom, assigning fabrics and attempting to calculate the number of each of our new products that could be made from 6 yards of kitenge. It was one in the afternoon by the time we finished, and we decided to have a light lunch and do a bit more work before returning to the shop three hours later.

On our return, we counted the products ready that afternoon and had lengthier talks with the tailors about what we had missed in Gulu. Darlyne and I planned to stop by the shop again early the next morning to pick up the rest of the Awava order before taking a bus back to Kampala. We said our goodbyes to the tailors and went back to Kakanyero.

Darlyne and I met up with two more friends from Kampala, Johan and Maria, as well as a group of Johan's friends, for a fantastic meal at the well hidden Ethiopian restaurant in Gulu. We then returned to the hotel fairly early to pack and rest for our return to Kampala.

On Thursday morning, Darlyne and I had a quick breakfast at Kakanyero before walking to Lucy's shop to pick up a few more finished products. We quickly counted products and snipped off a few loose threads before saying goodbye again and walking back to the hotel to check out, collect our luggage, and go to the bus station. We arrived at the bus station with plenty of time to spare, especially considering that the bus was two hours late. Upon finally reaching Kampala at 5pm, Darlyne and I departed the bus and walked together for a few minutes to find transport to our respective homes.

Awava is looking for a Media Intern!

Media Intern Job Description

Awava is a fair trade, poverty eradication project working in Uganda and the United States. We are seeking a Media Intern to help us develop a stream of communications to our supporters. This is a part time, unpaid internship and will be open until filled.

The Media Intern will work directly with the Founding Director to develop current stories, social content, and seek out media-based opportunities. He/She will be responsible for identifying the kinds of stories that symbolize and reflect the Awava brand.

Day to day work will include social media posts and following stories that have been prioritized. These story angles will include all of the work that Awava is doing in Uganda. The Media Intern will also be responsible for the visual story telling through photography and video. They must be familiar with computer technology to upload and send all of the communications to the Founding Director often and in a timely fashion.

The Communications Assistant will be responsible for:

· Assisting in telling the Awava story.

· Discover, research and present stories, story lines, campaigns and news from Uganda which would serve to educate or fascinate our supporters.

· Discover, research and present stories, story lines, campaigns and news from the Fair Trade and other Socially Conscious international communities.

· Organize stories, photos, videos of artisans for the Awava website, blog, facebook, twitter and e-newsletter.

· Daily maintenance of various Awava social media tools.

· Occasional website updates as directed by Founding Director.


· The Media Intern will work directly for the Founding Director in Uganda, though position may be filled in the United States if need be.


· Identify stories and news that is heartwarming and compelling.

· Write stories and take or compile photos and videos that support these stories.

· Develop interactive opportunities between producers and consumers/supporters through written, computer and audio means.

· Write weekly posts for both the Awava Blog and Facebook.

· Together with the guidance of the Founding Director, develop biographies and follow up of specific members.

· Keep organization aware of major stories.

· Participate in strategic thinking about communications with the Founding Director..


· Strong writing skills including an understanding of what makes a compelling story combined with ability to write descriptively and from the heart.

· Good computer skills and familiarity with Skype, and uploading videos/photos helpful.

· Photography and video experience helpful (but we will assist with training.)

· Familiar with social media trends and blogs.

· Ability to keep confidential information confidential.

Experience Needed

· Worked or volunteered in the communications field;

· Experience writing press releases;

· Strong written and oral communications skills;

· Experience with women's groups helpful;

· Experience with video and photography.

This is an unpaid internship and it is preferred that intern is based in Uganda, though it is not compulsory. Fund-raising opportunities are available through Awava to help fund your stay. Please email your cover letter and CV to .

New fabrics to look forward to in the coming months!

Stay tunned to for products in these prints coming soon!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Uganda Friday: 18th February 2011

by Darlyne Komukama

Uganda took to the polls today and voted to elect a new president as well as local Members of Parliament and Women Members of Parliament.

As the only Ugandan employee of Awava, I was proud to perform my civic duty and vote. That wasn't without it's hiccups though as the first polling station I went to didn't have my name on the list and I found this out after waiting in line, in the hot February sun for a half hour. Thankfully, the polling station I was sent to next did have my name on the list and had no queue.

The reports have already started trickling in from the Electoral Commission and the results should be released on Sunday.

Here's to hoping for a peaceful process.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Awava Goodies NOW @ Weaver's Department Store!

Weaver's is beginning their 154th year in Lawrence, Kansas, home of the University of Kansas. Weaver's is one of the longest operating department stores in the United States offering the finest merchandise and brands for Women, Men and Home.

You can now purchase many of our fabulous Awava goodies at Weaver's! Look for us in Jewelry, Women's Garments and the home and kitchen sections!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fair Trade Federation Members!

It's official! We are proud members of the Fair Trade Federation! Thanks to all of you who have been supporting us through this process, and here's to the future of Awava and Fair Trade!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Our Uganda Friday: 04th February, 2011

by Darlyne Komukama

The local music scene in Uganda has always involved live music with the performers playing instruments as much as singing. With more Westernised influence, however, much of our music is studio produced and auto-tuned. Not that there's anything wrong with that since musical tastes are fluid but it does leave a gap that live bands like Afrigo and Percussion Discussion are adequately trying to fill.

The Magic Hornz, started by Percussion Discussion alumni Cornelius Isabirye is one such act. They play the trumpet, saxophone, trombone, bass guitar, keyboard, drums: both Ugandan and otherwise and also use vocals to produce a fresh take of Afro-jazz.

They will be holding a concert dubbed 'Beyond Borders' at Alleygators in Garden City, tonight starting at 8pm for UShs10,000 so check it out.