Travels to Rwanda and Uganda
As we left Africa, my heart was heavy from all the stories of suffering but also hopeful for the jobs Noonday is helping to create, and the ever triumphant spirit of any African I have ever met.
When we arrived to Uganda, I felt like I was meeting family. I just can’t believe what all God has done in two years. Jalia, Daniel, Zoe (6) and Zack (4) all met Amelie and me at the airport. Zoe and Amelie held hands within seconds and were inseparable the entire time.
I asked them “When did you finally realize that you wanted to commit to Noonday and truly grow a craft business?” Jalia answered, “It was when you came here a year ago and said ‘We are partners together in business and in ministry.'” We truly are partners together. They now have a large workshop and instead of ordering fifty necklaces here and there, we are ordering hundreds, thanks to you!
On the day that we left, I sat down individually with various artisans to hear their stories. These are the stories I will be sharing over the next few weeks and in our lookbook. After hearing Oliva’s story, I asked her, “Who in your life has loved you and cared for you?” Through tears she said, “No one. This is the first time for me to ever even share my story.” She heard about the jewelry making opportunity through another one of our artisans, Bukenya, “They pay well,” he said. She came to Jalia and Daniel jobless, caring for her toddler Rachel, whose father left Oliva when she was three months pregnant.
Oliva’s mom died when she was only three. Upon her death, Oliva lost her one advocate in her life. Her dad began to sexually abuse her, until she finally ran away at age 13, after having completed only three years of school. Her aunt found her a job as a house girl in Kampala—but the job ended up being extremely exploitive. She would work from very early in the morning until late at night, was not allowed to eat anything from the house, and was never paid for her work. She soon had to beg for food for her daughter. This is a common story in Uganda- the poor simply don’t get paid.
Since working for African Style (the official Ugandan business name), she is able to rent her own room, and feed herself and her little girl. There were times where she simply thought she could not keep Rachel. She now dreams of the day when Rachel will be in school. And now, she has family; some one to hear her, to listen to her and to say to her, “You have worth. God has not forgotten you.”
It brought me much joy to hear how having gainful, non exploitive employment can restore others. Stay tuned and journey with us. You have a part to play. Engage your friends! Host a Trunk Show and our Ambassadors will share these stories for you. And make sure holiday shopping includes lots of Noonday love!
Meet Jessica Honegger
Jessica is Noonday Collection’s Founder and Chief Dreamer. Jessica spends her days inspiring others to live lives of purpose—from empowering our Ambassadors to be powerful storytellers and stylists, to visiting and encouraging our Artisans partners across the globe. After hours, Jessica can be found relaxing with her husband, dancing with her three children, and enjoying a good book.