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USA ~ Vista teen, Catherine Mitchell, helps struggling Ugandan families

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Posted August 5, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 2,141 views

     

By Christina Macone-Greene, SAN DIEGO ~ When 15-year-old Catherine Mitchell flew to Uganda for a family trip a couple of years ago she witnessed poverty and sickness.

A Guajome Park Academy student from Vista, Catherine tossed aside the notion she was too young to lend a hand.

In fall 2009, she established her micro-business, Beauty 4 Life, selling handmade jewelry made by Ugandan women and sending them the proceeds.

The micro-business is in the process of becoming a nonprofit.

For Catherine, the idea clicked when she saw women from Kampala make the jewelry from recycled paper.

“On the 22-hour flight home, I realized I could turn my vacation into a vocation by empowering women and providing education especially to girls,” Catherine said. “While in Uganda, I saw 2-year-olds sitting on the street with their hands out, begging. I realized that I could help these children and the women in Uganda by selling their jewelry.”

A $10 necklace can feed a family for a month.

Catherine said Beauty 4 Life gives women a sustainable income so they can provide meals, housing and schooling for their children. It also keeps kids off the streets, out of war, while treating women diagnosed with AIDS.

To date, nearly $6,000 of jewelry has been sold; 15 women do the handcrafting. The beads on the jewelry are hand-rolled tiny pieces of colorful scraps of paper sealed with weatherproof varnish. They resemble seashells.

Catherine teamed up with Dwelling Places, an orphanage she visited while in Uganda for three weeks. She keeps track of the jewelry sold and Dwelling Places receives monies every couple of months.

“The women who make the jewelry do not live at Dwelling Places, but their children usually do and they are helped by Dwelling Places with various needs,” she said. “Also, Dwelling Places partners with Beauty 4 Life to help the women start their own micro-businesses.”

The micro-businesses include ventures such as selling chicken eggs or used items.

Catherine’s mother, Kristen Mitchell, said her daughter appears on the surface to be a typical, sweet teenager.

“But I often say underneath that hood there’s a lot of horsepower, because Catherine is also very determined, caring, clever and resourceful,” she said.

Soroptomist International Vista sponsors Catherine, and the organization recently awarded her the Desert Coast Region Violet Richardson Award.

“Catherine impressed our three community judges with her empathy for the plight of the Ugandan children and her insight and aptitude in creating a project that could help women achieve a sustainable income for their families,” said Cherie Wilson, president of Soroptimist of Vista.

Visit http://beauty4life.weebly.com to support her Catherine’s Charity.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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