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Lothersdale woman bags some help for Africa’s poor
A woman’s quest to make “bags of difference” is paying off as her charitable efforts help poor African families.
Chris Mitchell, of North View, Lothersdale, has established Kisiizi Krafts and a project called Bags of Difference, which raises money to subsidise the income of staff who work at Kisiizi Hospital in south-west Uganda.
Mrs Mitchell, who visited the hospital in 2008 to teach the workers how to make bags from local cloth, has raised more than £14,000 for the co-operative in the past two years.
“Kisiizi is a very rural place, there’s nothing around for miles and miles,” said Mrs Mitchell.
“This project was established as a way to try to subsidise family income so these workers can pay for a school education for their children.
“People who work in the hospital, once they receive training, could easily move to one of the cities to work in a hospital and make more money,” she said. “But this project was set up to help these people to stay put and keep the Kisiizi Hospital running.”
Mrs Mitchell, a retired primary school teacher who recently moved to Craven from Sheffield, said the bags were made of locally-sourced cloth, cut in tiny squares and then sewn into a bag by one of the 100 Ugandans who are involved in the scheme.
“As there is no market to sell the bags there – because most local residents are poor subsistence farmers – the bags are brought back to the UK and I sell them at western prices.
“The bags cost about £10 and every penny goes back to the person who made the bag.”
Mrs Mitchell, who does talks to local groups about her experiences, said her visit to Uganda was humbling.
“I was struck by how hard people worked to support their families,” she said.
Anyone interested in purchasing a bag or any group that wants Mrs Mitchell to give a talk about Uganda can e-mail her at email@example.com.