Sunday, November 8, 2009

artisans: wawoto kacel

kilara spiral necklace, $12 (left)

This fall we added a gorgeous new line of jewelry to One Mango Tree. All of the pieces incorporate seeds, cord and recycled materials, creating a unique look you won't find anywhere else. So, where did we find this beautiful jewelry? In a small shop on a dusty and otherwise empty street in a tucked away corner of Gulu.

Each piece in our Jewelry Collection is made by a local cooperative called Wawoto Kacel. The group is based in Gulu District, and employs about 160 members working on a variety of crafts. Like our tailors, the members of Wawoto Kacel have been negatively affected by the war in Northern Uganda. Many are disabled, single mothers or widows, and many of the members are also HIV+. Wawoto Kacel, which means "walking together" in Acholi, is an income-generating project that is part of a larger effort by Comboni Samaritans, an Italian NGO that has been present in Gulu for over ten years. Wawoto Kacel is now entirely run by Ugandan staff, and its members earn an income for the sale of their craft work, which is sold locally and for export, and also receive complimentary health care at the Comboni clinic.

wawoto kacel artisan working on beading (left)

Comboni Samaritans also offers additional outreach and programs to benefit the members and the surrounding community. The cooperative includes several sections. We currently purchase from their jewelry section, but they also do weaving, banana fiber note cards and nativities, embroidery, and hand-dyed fabrics, and tailoring.

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