Craftwork – Ray of Hope women able to support themselves
Making craft goods for tourists has always been something that the women from the poorest communities in Kampala have been able to do to supplement their meagre income. Craftwork can often be done at home and while looking after children, or fitted around other working opportunities. The making of beads is the dominant craft, and as one walks through the narrow streets of the slums, lines covered in beads drying in the sun can be seen everywhere.
During the last three years Ray of Hope has extended its work in the community by teaching craft skills to a growing number of women so that they can now produce a range of goods. Ray of Hope brought in people to teach the women new skills in basket and bowl making, as well as instruction in sewing, using machines provided by another charity. The range of craft goods has grown now to include not only the traditional beads and bowls, but also bangles, zip-purses in banana bark, woven shopping bags, and colourful fabric bags of various sorts. The problem is that when the numbers making craft goods out-number the tourists who buy, then the women’s efforts often go unrewarded. It is the Friday open market that is the main outlet for the Ray of Hope women in Kampala, but competition is fierce and to make a sale the prices have to be held very low. Although offering a wider selection of goods in the market place increases their chances of making a sale, the problem of poor turnover and the lack of a guaranteed income remain.
Friends.. has been able to assist the women of Ray of Hope by bringing their craft goods to the UK. We forward payment for the goods to Emily at Ray of Hope who then divides it with the women of the project according to their input – basically it is run as a co-operative. Having paid up-front for the goods, we then take every opportunity we can to set up a stall and sell them. Any profit we make goes back to support the wider work of Ray of Hope. This is not a huge operation, but approximately every two months it guarantees a significant income for the twenty-five or so women involved. In the coming year we need to find one or two regular outlets for our craft goods if we are going to be able to increase our turnover. It has also be suggested that we have ‘craft-parties’ in friends’ homes to both sell the goods and also to promote the work and find new friends.
If you would like to help in any way with the sale of craft goods, or if you have any suggestions, we would appreciate your input.