On the back of a motorcycle again. A little one, whining its way through Kampala’s pock-marked streets. Small raindrops poke the opposite of sparks into my cheeks, my forehead, my closed eyelids. I am breathing.
A man that I just met is driving, a random stranger warding off the high-60s cold with a coat made for Alaska, who may or may not know where we are going. But I know. This is my seventh time to Uganda. I know where I’m going.
The Cokes this time in Acholi Quarters are room temperature. On hot days they are cold, sometimes with ice blocking the glass bottleneck. And on this cold day there are the Ugandan version of donuts, which look like fried dinner rolls and need the Coke to disolve them before swallowing.
There is smiling talk in Acholi, and laughter that I observe and appreciate but cannot share. And there is planning and checking of progress. Always checking progress. Always straining for more progress against the slow ironic calm of poverty.
But we are making it. We are far, far better than we were a year ago. So far that the past seems silly, a wonderland for the Alice of our family, with fantastical colors and bad surprises. And so much joy.
This year is going to be better yet and again. An exponent of previous years, an extreme makeover of an already beautiful world. This year the flower will bloom.
I lean and step down hills covered in the kind of mud that God makes when he blows his nose. Mud that sticks to things it never touches. My shoes collect the orange mud and keep it. It weighs them down. It makes them real. Everything I own is made real in this way, collecting the warm colors of Ugandan soil and bringing them into the American light.
Ugandan colors. American light. This year the flower will bloom.
The monthly rush to finish quality control and counting in time to ship out the latest order! The room looks roughly like DC after the recent snowstorm, except the snow is rainbow colored and made of paper.
Says Karl, "These smell much better than before." Thanks Karl.
So you get incredible discounts on last year’s line of Acholi Beads, and we’ll give 100% of what you spend to help the people suffering in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake. We’re all about the win-win.
The people of Haiti are suffering many of the same difficulties that our partners in Uganda have been through – their homes are destroyed, they’ve seen loved ones killed, and now they’re displaced without enough food, water, or shelter. We hurt with them, and we’re glad that our business has the potential to support their relief and recovery.
Acholi Beads brings you a video portrait of one of our first bead makers, Mama Esther. After being attacked twice by the Lord’s Resistance Army, Esther fled with her family to Acholi Quarters. She struggled for more than a decade to support her family, until she found Acholi Beads.
If Acholi Beads becomes as big of a success as I believe it will be, it won’t be our success. It will be the market’s success. Acholi Beads’ success is testament to our customers and retailers, their belief that business should make the world better, not worse, and their desire to share a connection with a wonderful group of women on the far side of the world.
Our success here at Acholi Beads will be when NUPECA succeeds. NUPECA is the co-operative of women that handmake every piece of Acholi Beads jewelry. We helped these women to organize and found NUPECA, and our success will be turning the market success of Acholi Beads to the benefit of these great women.
NUPECA’s success is when the women, families, and communities involved thrive. When their children have great education, their homes are rebuilt, and their communities are flourishing once again after two decades of war.
That’s how it works. Success starts with you. Let’s go there.