Link International in Uganda – 4. The Beads Community

Note: This is one of a series of blogs I’m posting about my recent trip to Africa for a month’s charity photography for Link International, documenting their projects around Uganda

One of the many interesting projects run by Link International around Kampala (The Ugandan Capital) is in what they call the ‘beads community’.

Women fleeing from Northern Uganda during a war where their husbands were killed by the LRA created a refugee slum.  An already matriarchal society, they earned their substandard living mining nearby rock…

… and turning it by hand into commercial rubble.The community has become large & has sprawled into a slum bursting with children

I loved this little chaps homemade car on a string

This smart hotel caught my eye too, thought I couldn’t find it in the Lonely Planet.

A typical African scene

Cheeky

The men are famously lazy in this society, leaving the women & children to earn money, cook and raise the young children.

This kind of apathy, while living on the poverty line was a bit much for some in our group to take.

However, a Link volunteer visiting Uganda on a fact finding mission for a craft trade project they had in mind to help develop western commercial links with very poor communities met some of these residents at their stall in nearly slum market. It turned out they also made beads from old newspaper/magazine strips & made them into bead necklaces & bracelets.

This project has blossomed into a fair-trade type project called ‘TRADE-LINK’ and now the beads are selling well all over the UK.

Trade-Link hopes to free them from the gruelling work of crushing stones.We came with the St David’s kids to learn what how locals create the beads

We clambered inside possibly the hottest, least ventilated building I’ve ever been in and learned how to roll beads.

It’s basically rolling & gluing long triangular strips of old magazine & varnishing them together.

The necklaces look rather smart eh?  So rather than making my own, I bought Clare & mum some.

This is the lady organising things at this end.

And here are many hands making light work.

Gotta love that bounce flash in a dark room!

While we cooked…

…the windows filled up with fascinated onlookers, eager to glimpse the “mizungus” (“tourist”)

Jenny is hoping to take some back to sell in the UK.

It’s amazing what poverty & lateral thinking can do.

These 11 kids are now all in school as a consequence of the beads project and Link International’s influence.

I’m thinking it might be some time before our girls get their own jewellery companies…

Back outside on the walk back I caught this ace gent, with his wheel & stick, cutting a fine impression of a photographer!

This little sausage link was also being adorable.

This is the thing – there are kids everywhere, and they love to be photographed.

Strolling back at dusk, I caught this one from the hip as Joe, Stewart & the gang stroll back.

It sounds lame, but it’s when they hold hands with you that you really realise they’re real.

A catch of the team bidding their farewells as we set off back into dusty Kampala.

Join me tomorrow (Friday) at 9am for a look at a slum Sunday Service at Hosanna Church in downtown Kampala.

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Link Up:

Read more about Link International’s Uganda projects on their facebook page here.

Download all the web-ready images from my blog trip here.

If you’d like to donate to their fantastic causes, visit their site here.

Read the Link director Tim Hall’s blog here.

Tim Hall - Barnaby, I’ve been there so often, I’ve spoken to them, heard their songs, rolled their beads, held their hands and your pictures still drive me to tears – thank you for so powerfully recording these emotions and people…yes, real people. And you know what – I didn’t think our visits were that significant but I think your photographs are telling me something different.

So appreciative,

Tim

Tianshi Indonesia - its very original photograps

Ben Spear - Fascinating and beautiful my friend! Love em :)

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