Our Ugandan office has been enjoying a very special visitor - Maya Azucena!
Maya is an amazing singer and activist, she has traveled the world to promote love. She has produced or performed for many cross-cultural events benefiting various causes, and already gained an international following, performing 100 some-odd concerts in front of 10′s of thousands of fans in former-Yugoslavia with Croatian super-star Gibonni. Ultimately, the US State Department supplied grants that sent Maya and her band on a powerful 5-week journey, performing concerts and facilitating music workshops in Burma, China, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
At the 2010 U.N. Summit, Ms. Azucena was selected by the office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to be the exclusive performer at his Every Woman, Every Child event. Maya is also co-founder (along with Emmy-winning director Lisa Russell) of the multi-media website, MDGFive.com, that uses all mediums of Art to raise awareness for better maternal health. In addition to touring with her band and collaborating with many living legends in the music world, Maya mentors teenagers and is invited as a motivational speaker on the subjects of artist entrepreneurism and achieving ones dreams. Among other acknowledgements, Maya’s been awarded a Grammy certificate for her collaboration with Jamaican star, Stephen Marley; a Proclamation from Congress for co-producing Hope Night, a concert for domestic-abuse awareness; and the prestigious “Top 40 Under 40″ Award from The Network Journal for her business acumen, community work and work abroad. Recently, she was commissioned by One Billion Rising to create the song “Dance Revolution” for V-Day’s 15th Anniversary. We at BeadforLife are truly grateful for her support of our cause.
During her trip in Uganda Maya had the opportunity to meet with the members of BeadforLife. She was able to visit to a couple of our uplifting programs including the Street Business School and Rural Entrepreneurial Program on the outskirts of Kampala. Both of these programs are part of our efforts to give the women who take part in BeadforLife entrepreneurial skills that will last them a life time.
Maya also visited a Jazz club called Jazzville where she did a small performance. In fact everywhere Maya went in Uganda she was singing!
At the end of her trip Maya visited the BeadforLife’s “Friendship Village”, where members bought land and homes by selling their handmade beads. This incredible community was built by volunteers and created homes for 132 impoverished Ugandan families. While there Maya was able to meet Joan and Teddy – the two former beaders who will soon be coming to the U.S. The three of them will be reunited in April 2013 when the Opportunity Tour kicks off!
BeadforLife is rising, alongside V-Day and its supporters, to end poverty and violence worldwide. Our work in Uganda is centered on empowering women to own their futures. Daily, we see our members rising out of poverty through hard work, dedication and support from those around them.
In Uganda, and around the world, there is an undeniable and complex connection between poverty and violence. The majority of the women who are or have been enrolled in our programs in Uganda are survivors of sexual violence or other physical abuse. Across the country, 46 percent of Ugandan women report regular physical or sexual abuse.
If you have worn any of our jewelry, chances are the woman who made the beads experienced some form of violence throughout her life.
All of the shea nut gatherers we partner with in Northern Uganda were brutalized by Kony and the LRA, and most were also victims of sexual assault or rape.
We are rising for these women.
We are rising for their children, for a healthier life and a violence free future.
We are rising to spark change all over the world.
The jewelry we wear and the shea butter we use provide a way for Ugandan women to rise out of poverty and into a new life where violence is part of the past. Women living in extreme poverty lack economic power and resources and are at a greater risk for gender-based violence. Owning a business, earning money and getting an education are all paths out of poverty and offer women power, strength and independence.
BeadforLife stands with survivors of violence and poverty in Uganda, the US and around the world; Let’s all rise together on February 14th, 2013.
Maya Azucena, a new friend to BeadforLife, is rising with her voice. She recorded the official music video for One Billion Rising…”Dance Revolution.”
Malaika means “angels” in Swahili, and that is what BeadforLife’s newest group has named themselves. Angel group members live in a very remote village about an hour from Kampala and lead a subsistence lifestyle. Currently, we’re piloting an approach with Malaika in which we not only work with each woman to put money in her hands and offer her training, but we also work with her husband to provide an opportunity for them to rise up together.
Women don’t often want us to share how much they earn or information about our program with their husbands, and we have always respected their wishes. However, over the past 8 years we have seen that the women who are the most successful are often those working in partnership with their husbands. For this reason, we’re piloting a new model that focuses on the well-being of the entire family.
Addressing people’s needs in a holistic way means looking at factors that prevent them from getting out of poverty. For the Malailka group, one of these factors is access to clean water. When we visited, Partnership Coordinator Phoebe Aringo and I walked out to see the local water source the women used. What we saw was a disgusting, stagnant pool with algae and car oil floating on top. I’m sure the rate of diarrhea is overwhelming in this community, having a particular impact on children. Oftentimes, they are not able to study and can remain malnourished because they don’t have access to clean water.
Along with buying beads from the women and engaging the men of Malaika, we will be looking for the best solutions to help them access clean drinking water so their families and communities can be healthy.
The United Nations has established October 11 as International Day of the Girl to advance the UN Millennium Development Goals. Their mission, which BeadforLife stands behind, is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” We caught up with Joy Gardner, who works at the organization 10×10.org and asked her to write a guest blog about their upcoming global campaign to educate girls. It launches tomorrow, on International Day of the Girl.
“Around the world, girls face barriers to education that boys do not. Tradition, work, and cultural practices like early marriage prevent millions of girls from attending school. Yet when you educate girls, truly extraordinary things can happen. Research shows that when girls have access to quality education, GDP (gross domestic product) rises, early marriage decreases, population growth stabilizes, agricultural output grows, and health outcomes improve. In fact, you can break the cycle of poverty in just one generation, which is truly something to get excited about!
Currently, 77.6 million girls are not in school, which is why the United Nations recently designated October 11th as a day of advocacy for girls’ rights around the world. This Thursday, on the first-ever International Day of the Girl, 10×10 will launch a global campaign to educate and empower girls. Using storytelling and our new feature film, Girl Rising, we’re spreading the message that investing in girls —equally to boys —benefits everyone. We’re reaching out to a global audience, engaging a grassroots community, and inspiring individuals to take action for girls.
Organizations like BeadforLife and their recently successful 100 DREAMS campaign to send 100 Ugandan girls to school, will ignite a change in the lives of girls that can have an exponential effect. Each of us has the ability to make a HUGE impact in not only the life of an individual girl, but in her community, her country, and the world! Raising a collective voice can lead to a positive change. So stand up! Learn about the power of girls’ education – spread the word, share their stories, TAKE ACTION! Together we can write a better future for girls and change the world.” - Joy Gardner
Tags: 100 Dreams, 10x10, BeadforLife, Child Poverty, Education, Empowering Girls, Girl Rising, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, International Day of the Girl, paper jewelry, Poverty Eradication, UN Millennium Development Goals, United Nations, Volunteer, Women Making A Difference
This past Spring, Mark Jordahl of Conservation Concepts, led a BeadforLife trip to Uganda. One of the trip participants, Dave Ensign, has agreed to do a guest blog for us about his trip. Enjoy!
I’ve often imagined a trip to Africa where I could experience the continent’s breathtaking beauty and unique cultures in a meaningful way without finding myself alone in a confusing city rifling through a Lonely Planet guide. Preferring a personal connection to my destination, I was thrilled when BeadforLife, an organization with which I’ve always loved to collaborate, offered their early 2012 trip to Uganda. The informative preparatory conversations and emails with Mark Jordahl (Conservation Concepts) made it clear that this would be an amazing trip. Mark has extensive knowledge of the country, and has a huge network of Ugandan friends and resources.
From the first day of exploring beyond our lovely hotel in Kampala, I could tell that we were in for a special experience. The group members had an adventurous spirit, and we were quickly welcomed into the BeadforLife family with a visit to the beautiful complex in Bugolobi, Kampala (including the Shea Butter facility).
Many fun activities were squeezed into our ten days together, including safaris, dance performances, and delicious cuisine. But for me, the biggest rewards came in being invited into the homes and lives of the Ugandans. Touring the Namuwongo slum to learn how alumni of the BeadforLife program are sustaining themselves provided a unique window into the daily challenges of people in developing countries. Staying in the Friendship Village with a loving host family expanded my exposure to the Ugandan experience, as I learned how to prepare traditional food and help with the daily chores. Visiting the M-Lisida orphanage showed me how Ugandans can work together to ensure education, safety, and a better future for Kampala’s vulnerable children.
As Americans, we enjoy wealth and opportunity beyond what most Ugandans can imagine, yet clearly this bounty does not ensure our happiness nor does it provide a sense of fulfillment. A trip to Uganda offers invaluable insights into what aspects of life’s journey really matter. Those lucky enough to visit Uganda should find themselves returning home with a renewed sense of calm, and an abundance of ideas on making our lives more meaningful.
To learn more about Mark Jordahl’s upcoming trip to the North of Uganda, you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.