One Mango Tree from Uganda
"No matter how difficult things get, the mango stays green...And in times of drought, we can eat its fruit to survive."
Northern Uganda is a region devastated by more than twenty years of armed conflict. Despite the fact that most of the conflict has subsided and many people are returning to their villages and otherwise peaceful lives, the ongoing violence destroyed many of the opportunities for earning a livelihood, especially for women. One Mango Tree was founded by and remains under the direction of a young American woman named Halle Butvin, who fell in love with Uganda's culture while on a student trip organized by the Global Youth Partnership for Africa. She recognized the talents of the many tailors of Gulu's central market, and thus One Mango Tree was formed as a partner to sell their products in a global marketplace.
Many of the women employed not only care for their own families, but also for children orphaned during the war. In addition to providing a vocation to these women, One Mango Tree provides school fees stipends to help alleviate the cost burden of sending so many orphaned children to school, as well as bicycles to ease the commute to work in the market.
One Mango Tree works with Ugandan and American designers to create their products, mixing the bright African wax printed fabrics purchased in local markets with functional design. Using foot-treadle sewing machines, the women make both traditional and modern style clothing.
Auma Lucy is One Mango Tree's head tailor and trainer, providing support and a vocation for the women she employs. Lucy is a single mother herself, caring for eleven orphans in addition to her own two children. Known throughout the community for her kindness and tailoring talents, Lucy became a magnet for young people, in the hopes that she could impart some of her knowledge and skills so they too could make a living. Having struggled herself as a young single mother, Lucy would accept as many women as would fit in her market stall. With the help of One Mango Tree, Lucy's tailors are now paid fair wages, helping them to improve their lives.