19 Mar the Feeling of Kindness Gives Back: Roots of South Sudan
ROOTS of South Sudan is Committed to Helping the Women of South Sudan Craft a New Nation
This is part two of my four-part series about the different nonprofits my jewelry line, the Feeling of Kindness, gives back to. For every item sold I donate 100% of the profits to four special charities. For part two we travel from India (where we were in part one) to South Sudan. Specifically, Juba.
Founded by Anyieth d’Awol, ROOTS of South Sudan is based in Juba, South Sudan with dual operations taking place in Issaquah, Washington. ROOTS is a 501c3, founded in 2011 to empower South Sudanese women and youth of all tribes through the preservation of traditional Sudanese arts and crafts. The goal of ROOTS is to help women improve their job skills and literacy and to provide women with healthy meals, emergency assistance and a safe environment for them to be able to share their skills with other families.
After studying in England, Anyieth, a South Sudanese lawyer, began working with the United Nations. As her work progressed she noticed that the UN handed out money but the welfare of the people showed no visible improvement. The long (and still ongoing) war over the President Salva Kiir (from the Dinka tribe) and his former Vice President Riek Machar (from the Nuer tribe) was and is keeping the men away fighting and killing each other.
Because of this imbalance Anyieth decided something had to be done. She created a commune of some 60 to 80 women who were housed together in a safe compound she built. Here the women, often joined with their young children, were able to do traditional Sudanese bead work. I know about this first hand as my son, Christopher, used to carry suitcases of beads (made in the Czech Republic) to Anyeith’s women as there were no supplies available in South Sudan.
Together, Anyieth, Pam McKulka and Frank McKulka (the co-founders and parents of her husband, National Geographic photographer Tim McKulka) fund all of the supplies and beads so that 100% of all bead sales go back to the women for food, health care, supplies and schooling for their children.
The products the women of ROOTS create are nothing short of spectacular in color and texture. ROOTS has provided a safe community for these women to not just survive but to thrive and provide a comfortable life for themselves and their family. You can read more about these women and their inspirational stories here.
Here is a list of just a few of the amazing things ROOTS and its women has been able to achieve with the vision of one determined woman:
- ROOTS women support 30 women living in UN IDP camps near Juba
- a minimum of 27 women attend literacy and math classes three times a week while participating in the Earning While Learning program
- 24 tribes are represented among the women who come to the ROOTS PROJECT center
- healthy meals are provided each day at no cost to the members
- $500,000+ of income has been earned by ROOTS PROJECT members from 2011-2018
- each member’s income supports 6-10 family members