On the trip, Bush travelled to Northern Uganda where she met with the women who create the jewelry for each line. The jewelry lines are ways to improve the standard of living for the people in Gulu town, Uganda, who are recovering from 20 years of violence and unrest.
“Being conscious of what you support, even though such simple actions as buying a bracelet or necklace for a loved one, can literally impact entire communities halfway around the world,” Bush said on her Instagram. “The gratitude that these women put into each piece they make is palpable here. Talk about the meaning of ‘being made with love.’”
“What an incredible welcome to Gulu, Uganda!!,” Bush wrote on Instagram. “The 175 women of @31bits rushed our car upon arrival, dancing & singing, and pulled us into the compound and performed for us. We only sat for a few moments to learn the proper moves, and then were coaxed up and led into the field, dancing with these incredible ladies and their kids. I lost count of the number of times they thanked us for coming. The thing is, it’s us who are so grateful to them. For hosting us. For welcoming us like family. For their warm smiles and strong hugs and inviting souls. And for their incredible perseverance. #31Bits was born to help rehabilitate a war-torn region. To help empower the most disadvantaged women. To return hope to families. And these amazing ladies have done it. Their stories will move you to tears, make you thankful for the sheer magic that is the human spirit, and bring so much joy into your heart that you’ll realize you’re clutching your hand to your chest just to feel it beating, and you didn’t even notice that you put it there. Being conscious of what you support, even through such simple actions as buying a bracelet or necklace for a loved one, can literally impact entire communities halfway around the world. The gratitude that these women put into each piece they make is palpable here. Talk about the meaning of “being made with love.” #UgandaBeInspired #FashionWithPurpose”
While in Uganda, Bush went on safari in Murchison Falls National Park, where she visited the source of the Nile River in Jinja town.
“These amazing women @courtneypoole and @ohheyelle,” Bush continued in another Instagram post. “These two are incredible entrepreneurs, who are empowering artisans across Uganda and other parts of the world, extending that spirit of empowerment to all they encounter. And they also happen to be incredible travel buddies to snuggle with on a boat in South Africa for the day #TheAdventureContinues #AllTheWhales #AllTheSharks #AllTheSeals (and WHY is there no shark emoji!?).”
“These young women are becoming the leaders of tomorrow, at Cornerstone Leadership Academy, thanks to support from @ssekodesigns and all of their #GreatCustomers,” Bush wrote of the girls school that she visited. “I tried (and failed!) to hide my tears at CLA today as we heard from the students. And our table decor!? We love you too, ladies. What a magical place. What magical girls.”
“These are my friends David and Sam,” Bush wrote with another post. “I’ve known David, through Invisible Children, for many years. I just had the pleasure of meeting Sam on this trip to Uganda. Both of these men glow. They are so full of joy, purpose, & gratitude. And both of these men were kidnapped by the LRA when they were children. David managed to escape after six horrific months. Sam just came home last year, after 24 years of living captive in the bush. You’d imagine that victims of such a war would be closed off, angry, or afraid. These two are never not smiling. They are so welcoming, funny, & positive. Being home is a total miracle for them. They will share their stories, terrifying and unimaginable, with candor. They are looking forward. David has a passion for education access, has worked with IC, reintegration efforts for former LRA victims here in Uganda, and now a partnership with #PathwaysToPeaceUganda. His mission, as he puts it, is to give people their dreams back. To find out ‘who they want to be in this world and let them be it.’ His work brought me to tears. His dedication is unparalleled. So many aid groups are gone now that the LRA is deep in Sudan. The programs that IC still supports here are among the few left rescuing those that come home. David is committed to continuing until the last LRA fighter surrenders. He greeted Sam upon his homecoming, they’ve become best friends. And Sam has been using his voice to make radio broadcasts (using the tower network IC helped to build!), send defection fliers into the bush – with his photos & messages of safe homecoming – to other captives of the LRA. The largest single defection happened last year, thanks to Sam’s messages, when 46 people came home in 1 day. As these men know, the conflict still exists. David told me that ‘if someday there are only two LRA fighters left, there is still a war. There may as well be thousands. They will keep fighting.’ It’s often easy to feel exhausted by global issues, to lose focus on what’s happening around the globe, to feel disheartened & thus turn away. There is nothing disheartening here. There is only hope. Hope that each of these men once thought was lost. It’s here. Keep watching. #Hope”
“I’m leaving Uganda today with a full heart, an inspired mind, and an activated spirit,” Bush wrote about her trip on Instagram. “There is so much joy here. The women we spent our time with will forever be stitched into my heart. And they’ve taught me a thing or two about how to greet your friends with the most epic welcome dances! I can’t wait to show you all what I’m cooking up with Akolaproject, Ssekodesigns, and 31Bits! #FashionWithPurpose, #ConsciousCommerce, and #UgandaBeInspired”
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Learn more about Invisible Children.