Mend is a social enterprise geared toward improving the quality of life for women in Gulu, Uganda who were directly affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict. These women produce high-quality bags designed to seam a personal connection between products, their makers and consumers.

Many of the seamstresses supported by Mend are former abductees, who were forced to become child soldiers or wives to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commanders. These women were lucky enough to escape, often with children of their own, but after returning home, were ostracized due to their former affiliation with the rebels. Taken captive at a tender age, many lack a basic education and upon their escape from the LRA, were taken to rehabilitation centers, where they received three months of counseling and basic training in tailoring. With a skill for which an already flooded market exists, many were left without the means to support themselves and their children through a career as a seamstress.

Mend is built to have both sustainable social and financial impact. By providing the seamstresses of Mend more marketable and economically beneficial outlets for their skills, Mend has helped reduce poverty, truly improving the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable women in northern Uganda. With each new bag, the seamstresses improve in skill, versatility and confidence.

Through education and counseling, Mend emphasizes building a life for the seamstresses outside of work as well and provides a local, highly-trained professional, full-time Social Worker. Experienced in post-conflict trauma, Mend’s Social Worker works to provide psychosocial support to the seamstresses and their families. She facilitates training sessions with partner organizations to give the seamstresses an understanding of topics such as safe health practices, child health, family planning, gender-based violence and coping with psychosocial trauma. In addition to these trainings, the women participate in weekly Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) meetings that focus on reading, writing and numeracy in their local language – Luo. They take part in monthly Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) meetings, which allow them to save and lend money to each other. All of the seamstresses have received or are participating in savings, numeracy, budgeting, loaning and investment training to assist them in developing sustainable income generating activities (IGAs) outside of their work at Mend and to develop life-skills that will make them self-reliant in the future.

Every bag made at Mend has a story. Each product carries the name of the seamstress who made it. The seamstresses name links to her online profile, providing a window into her life. Through personal video bios and photos, each woman is able to share how she is “on the Mend” because of a simple purchase.