Meet The Artisans: Ayat Jackie

Ayat Jackie is an Ugandan woman living in the Acholi Quarter just outside the country’s capital of Kampala. The Acholis have been victims of the LRA, which has murdered hundreds of thousands of Acholis and conscripted children, often forcing girls into unspeakable servitude. The quarter is a refugee camp of over 50,000 people barely surviving on 30 acres. Overcrowding, disease, and abject poverty surround families whose average size is around ten, often with a woman caring for her own children as well as orphaned nieces and nephews. 

After six years in this displaced persons camp, Ayat began making jewelry from scraps of paper in order to support herself and her family. Each bead is made by cutting a piece of paper into a long triangular strip and rolling it tightly together. The bead is then varnished three times before it is strung to make the desired piece of jewelry. The color of the bead depends on the color of the paper used to make it. It is not dyed or painted.

Through the support of a non-profit called Project Have Hope, Ayat not only partnered to sell her jewelry, but she learned also how to design the jewelry and furthered her education. With her income and a loan from the non-profit, Ayat was able to open her own salon. She continues to use her savvy entrepreneurial business skills to design jewelry that sells in a now competitive market (the making of paper jewelry beads are now popular all over the world). She says, “I aspire to be a role model for my younger sister.” 

Want to see the kinds of jewelry Ayat Jackie designs? Check out these earrings here at Sojourns Fair Trade:

Also these bracelets:

and other Project Have Hope items here:

And here:

All information taken from and’s History of the People: Bandi Acholi Quarters. Photo from projecthavehope.