Karen Sparacio, Director of Project Have Hope (PHH), is a Malden resident and established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that brings handmade fair trade artisan crafts from Uganda to the United States, allowing the artisans to be paid a fair price, on time, in equitable, transparent, long-term relationships, uplifting those who have experienced trauma to have livelihoods, and importantly, hope. Many of the beautiful handicrafts – including textile bags, trivets, aprons, dolls, plush animals, paper bead jewelry, sturdy and handwoven raffia baskets, and metal-smithed and bone jewelry – can be found at The Gallery@57 at 57 Pleasant St. in Malden.
Sparacio’s story with PHH began when she traveled to Uganda in the fall of 2005 as a volunteer photographer for several nonprofits. While there, she was introduced to the Acholi Quarter, where she photographed for two weeks. In her words, “As a photojournalist, my focus has been to inspire others to take action. During this trip, I realized that I needed to take action and to do something more than take photos. It was on that premise that PHH was born.”
The stories of the artisans range from those who spent multiple years in a displaced persons camp to an escaped abductee from the Northern Uganda conflict to an HIV-positive person who now counsels others like her about leading healthy lives. Another artisan cares for family members and orphans. Thanks to PHH, they are not only creating saleable, utilitarian art, they are able to pay for their children’s school fees, open their own businesses and pay for their medication.
As can be seen on the PHH website (https://projecthavehope.org/), the artisans have been “displaced by war” and “shackled by poverty,” and now they make internationally attractive items that give them hope that restores them and inspires others. “Project Have Hope’s handmade designs help women build a secure future for their families, and create a more equitable world.”
You can support PHH by purchasing their crafts at The Gallery@57. They make wonderful gifts.