The National Association of Women’s Organisations of Uganda is a cooperative of over 4,000 mainly rural women who help support their families through making wonderful banana fibre and raffia fruit baskets and jewellery from recycled magazine page beads.
They use traditional skills to weave beautiful patterns with a great sense of colour – the more colourful baskets are Nubian designs while the browns and muted earth colours are more typically Ugandan. There are a great range of designs too, including large winnowers from the North, storage jars from the Kampala districts, and banana leaf mobiles and figures.
Uganda, as most African countries, has a very high AIDS rate, widespread poverty and added to this there is still conflict in the north. Most families will not entirely rely on selling goods but use this as a supplement to subsistence farming – 87% of Ugandans live in rural areas. Many have bought extra land, built or repaired houses and are sending ther kids to school. One basket maker, Mary, earned enough to build a small brick house with windows and a proper corrugated iron roof. She had saved up a whole year’s money from basket making – at an average of one a day. Joyce, who often comes to the office, has sent her eldest son to university through basket making.
Recently Lovethatstuff has supplied Oxfam UK with the recycled magazine page necklaces and bracelets which has generated more income for the women. We hope to be able to increase sales further to help NAWOU continue their great work.