ROOTS OF SOUTH SUDAN
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
Born in South Sudan, Anyieth D'Awol earned her law degree in the UK, and returned to aid her newly formed, volatile country. Seeing the same women return for support time after time, she realized that what women in her country needed was not aid, but work. And so she went to work providing . . .work.
In 2009 she founded the ROOTS PROJECT, offering a a secure environment for women from 18 different tribal groups to come together and bead jewelry in their own traditions, learning to trust one another and respect differences. Meanwhile, the men in their families were still warring with one another.
In a country where remnants of war, tribal distrust, extreme gender disparity still weigh heavily, the organization has adopted principles to ensure ownership of the Project by its members. This merit based, non-discriminatory safe center provides materials for the crafts and markets the finished products locally and abroad. Literacy and math classes, childcare, healthy meals for women and their children are also provided, as well as transportation, legal support and emergency funding for healthcare.
While the artisans are highly skilled in their unique tribal beadwork, they have no way of knowing how to fashion those skills for the western market. The Roots Project reached out to the Ibu Foundation for design training. While it is not safe to send a designer to Juba, the Center has requested to send two artisans to Nairobi, where beads are available, and where a designer can meet with them to work on new possibilities from their traditional craft, taking the whole endeavor the new heights, markets, and economic strength.
We cannot imagine a project more compelling than these women finding peace with one another in the midst of war and violence and mistrust. The Ibu Foundation reaches out to them with utmost respect for their endeavor, honored to accompany Anyieth and the artisans in this work toward respect and resilience.