Chag Sameach. It means “joyous festival” and is a popular greeting during Passover. With the Jewish celebration of freedom here again I recall our very special Passover seder in Kampala, Uganda. I posted this as the very first story on my blog back in May 2008. My story also ran in the Denver Post in spring 2007.
Cinematographer Paul Hillman and I are heading back to Kampala, Uganda again in June to do more video production for BeadforLife (http://beadforlife.org.) It is our third trip. This time we are focusing on the NGO’s market linkage program where women in the war torn villages near Lira and Gulu are getting assistance bringing their shea butter product to consumers. What makes this extraordinary is the backstory. All the women were refugees from the brutal reign of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. For 19 years he and his men (many of them children) burned villages, raped women, killed men and abducted boys and girls in a senseless civil war. With his retreat into the Congo these women have now returned from the refugee camps to their villages and are trying to get back on their feet by manufacturing shea butter which is a popular ingredient in cosmetics. BeadforLife is linking these women to markets. Other NGO’s are starting to do this on a small scale in Congo and Sudan which also have been wreaked by terrible hardship and civil war. We are heading to the villages and expect the material to be powerful and compelling. If you want to read about Kony and his murderous band of thugs in Congo today here is an article from the New York Times.