The women supported by WEND Africa were all affected by the war in Northern Uganda. Many of our ladies were forced to become child soldiers or wives to LRA commanders. During the war, nearly all the women were abducted, raped and abused. For the women who were lucky enough to escape, many returned HIV positive and with new children. After returning home, these women and children were ostracized due to their former affiliation with the rebels. Because these women were taken captive at a tender age, many lacked a basic education or a means to support themselves and their families.
In response, in 2009, Invisible Children Uganda developed the social enterprise, Mend. A program that employed 22 war-affected mothers as seamstresses to utilize skills training and education to improve their quality of life, invest in a sustainable future, and grow as leaders within their families and communities. Due to the hard work of the seamstresses, as well the resources invested in their livelihoods, the Mend program experienced many successes. In 2014, Invisible Children could no longer provide funding or availability to the US marketplace. As a result Mend came to a close. Determined not to leave the ladies, Jolly Okot, founder of Invisible Children Uganda, made a commitment to continue on - but this time under a new name, WEND Africa. So, she flipped the Mend logo upside and WEND was born. For the last two years, Jolly has run the nonprofit entirely on her own and each month has struggled to pay the ladies’ salaries out of her own pocket, so the women can keep their jobs and provide for their kids. Despite immense hardship, Jolly and the ladies never gave up hope — And good thing they didn’t. Because of their relentless perseverance and faith, WEND launched in the United States in 2018. We are just getting started.
COME BE APART OF THE EXCITING NEXT CHAPTER OF OUR STORY.