When Grace was just 13, she was abducted by the LRA from her home. After walking for miles with the rebel army, Grace was chosen to remain with the commander of the brigade, and was given the responsibility of caring for his children. She was also forced to become a wife to one of the rebel soldiers.
One day, during an attack on the rebel army, Grace was running with the commander’s child on her back. She was injured, and the baby was shot and killed. It is a scene that has stayed with her, even to this day.
Grace and the rebel soldiers came under attack a second time, and Grace’s leg was seriously injured. It was during that attack that she was rescued. Taken to a nearby hospital, Grace underwent five surgeries on her leg. While there, the doctor who was caring for her discovered that she was pregnant.
Picking up the pieces and moving on has not been easy, but Grace is now living a full and happy life, alongside her two children – Sheila and Peter. Working at Mend has given her the stability and security she needs and provides a safe and understanding community.
Mend bags are individually handcrafted in Gulu, Uganda by women directly affected by the LRA conflict. The bags are beautiful, strong, and practical – just like the women who made them.
Every bag made at Mend has a story. Each product carries the name of the seamstress who made it, and a stamped leather tag inside each bag tells the seamstress’s story, seaming a connection between maker and consumer. 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.