When you buy products from women who are working hard to change their lives, you invest in a market that makes it possible for them to do so.
I have been working with women in Uganda for the past 9.5 years. These women are actually from the neighboring country, the Democratic Republic of Congo and they have a very unique story: they marry Ugandan soldiers who are stationed in the DRC, and after years of marriage and having children, they move back to Uganda, only to find out that their husbands were already married and have no intention of caring for them or their children. These women face quite a predicament; they’ve been abandoned by their husbands, ostracized by the community, they don’t speak the local language, nor do they have proper paperwork. They're also unable to return home, because if they do, they have to leave their children behind as their husbands have legal rights over their children. As a result, the majority of these women turn to prostitution in order to survive.
Since 2010, Remnant International has provided these women with hope. They are provided with vocational training, specifically screen printing and sewing, and they are also given help with their identification cards, as well as livelihood programs such as budgeting/finance, business classes, English classes, and health seminars.
While I spent years living in Uganda to establish Remnant, I now run Remnant from my home in California with the help of my husband, Kevin. Our day to day operations are run by our staff in Uganda, and we check in with them several times per week.
I first visited Gulu, Uganda on a two-week trip with my church. I absolutely loved my time there and felt a strong desire to return, so a year later when I graduated from college, I set out to volunteer for an organization in Gulu for six months. In the months leading up to my big move, I felt drawn to Isaiah 37:31-32, which says, "And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." I didn't understand what these verses meant, but they were constantly on my mind. A week before I traveled, I came across 2 Kings 19:30-31, which says, "And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord will do this." I was stunned to see that the verses that moved me in Isaiah were stated word for word in 2 Kings. I wasn't sure what God was trying to tell me, but I knew it was time to pay attention.
A week into my time in Gulu, the organization I was volunteering for had a vision meeting for 2010. I watched as the director drew a tree on her whiteboard and said the words, "my vision for this year is that we take root downward and bear fruit upward." I couldn't believe it! I left that afternoon, in absolute awe as I prayed for God to explain what he was trying to tell me through this repetition.
On my walk home, I decided to stop by my mentors' home to talk about it with her and her husband, Pastor Ron. When I spoke to Pastor Ron and Mama Joy, they were more vague than I had ever experienced! They laughed and said, "the Lord works in mysterious ways." They invited my friend and I to visit a group of women they've been working with the next day, and we agreed to join them.
The next morning, we met about 80 women in a field between their mud hut homes, and Pastor Ron began preaching to them. I stood back and watched, until he asked me to share what God was telling me with these women. I nervously began speaking, sharing about the personal experiences that led me to Uganda, as well as the verses that had been repeatedly coming up. At the end of my sharing, Pastor Ron stepped in and told the women, "You are the remnant. God is using this time of hardship and struggles to have you take root downward and bear fruit upward."
To this day, it's still hard to describe what happened at that moment. It was as if a grand orchestra crescendoed! God was speaking to all of us, and it was clear as day.
At that time, I didn't know the womens' backstory. I could sense that they were struggling tremendously in their lives, yet they were so moved and encouraged by what was shared. Many of them gave their lives to Christ that day.
We left that field, not knowing the extent of what had just taken place. Pastor Ron and Mama Joy explained how these women ended up in Uganda, and all of the hardships they were facing. They told us how these women were duped into moving to Uganda, and how they had been hurt, abandoned, and vilified in their community. They told us that the women have no other option but to sell their bodies so they don't starve, and so their children survive.
We needed to do something to help these women get out of their terrible situations. We wanted them to have another option so they could stop selling their bodies in order to survive. We ended up training a small group of women, teaching them our homegrown hobbies of screen printing and sewing. We called our business Remnant, so we'd always remember what God did that day in 2010. Nearly 10 years later, we're still training women, and we have programs to help them prosper in life. Not only are they out of prostitution-- they are thriving!
This cause is crucial: there are so many women around the world who don't have opportunities to make a fair and honest wage, and have to go to extremes in order to survive. It's said that every dollar we spend is a vote we cast for the world we want to live in. When you buy products from women who are working hard to change their lives, you invest in a market that makes it possible for them to do so. Our aim with Remnant is to rally, connect, and resource people to make a sustainable difference in the world through purchases and donations, and in doing so, we become a part of the narrative change of these women and their children.
The best way for people to engage with our mission is to donate via monthly sponsorships, purchase our products, spread the word, and follow us on Instagram!
My current favorite product is our Canvas Carryall in Anemone. It's a cute, colorful bag that's the perfect size for all of your necessities!
Partnering with New Creation means so much to us! With this partnership, we're able to continue to provide employment to our beneficiaries, which allows them to reinvent their lives. All products made in partnership with New Creation support us in paying fair wages to our beneficiaries.
One of my favorite success stories is about Leah and her son. For years, Leah was unable to provide for her family. Things were especially difficult for the mother of three when her husband unexpectedly lost his job. As Leah and her husband struggled to make ends meet, their youngest son graduated kindergarten at the top of his class and he begged his parents for a bicycle. His parents desired to reward him, but were unable to afford a bicycle. Leah was desperate to provide for her family, so she sought employment from Remnant in 2016. Although it took nearly two years to save the money, Leah proudly fulfilled her promise—last year, she was finally able to gather the money she saved from her salary to buy a bicycle for her son!
Our Fear is a Liar poem is a great inspiration to me: the poem was originally written to motivate the women and inspire them to overcome fear, but it also resonates with me personally. All of us experience fear, no matter where we're from or what our background is. All of us are faced with the choice to shrink down or to fight back in the face of fear. On days that I want to give up, I think about the women we work with and the desire they have to make a better life for themselves and their children, which gives me perspective and encourages me to face my fears.
We love partnering with Remnant International! At least twice a year we create a design that Remnant then adds to bags, flags + more that they have handmade. Our latest collaboration is the Do Good line. We have zip pouches, wall flags, + a great tote with pocket all reminding us to Do Good! Check them out online.