Friday, March 15, 2013

Its already been a year?!

So sorry it has been months...actually a whole year since our last blog post. We have been up and running and will  celebrate 3 years in existence in May of 2013.

We are getting ready to make another trip to Zambia and I (Ana) could not be happier. I had to skip last year because I was pregnant, then I gave birth way too early and our daughter passed away after only being in the world for 1.5 hours.

What have we done this past year?
    Well, I have sewn a LOT!
        In December we partnered with one of our volunteers (Darlene) who works at the Hilton in New Orleans and we sold quite a few of our bags. The Hilton holds an annual team member market place where the employees get to show the things they have made. Darlene made all of the bags she took there and I just went to help sell them.It was so exciting to see and hear peoples reaction to the bags.
          Just last weekend we went to an adoption conference in Atlanta called Created for Care. There were over 400 women in attendance and we got a whole lot of compliments on the bags.

I hope that when we go to Zambia in April that we are able to make deeper connections with the people there in the clinic and truly impact the lives of some of these amazing babies.

If you want to stay up to date on a more regular basis you should visit us on Facebook. If you want to purchase a bag or a wristlet you can get one Here.

Thank you!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Made in Zambia

After a very successful year in 2011, we decided that January 2012 would be a month of resting and praying. We are excited to get back into the swing of things and have some new news to share.

Our vision at Umweo Bags is to provide life to the children of Zambia. We are committed to providing food and supplements to children in any number of ways. Our primary means of providing up to this point has been by sending money to a malnutrition clinic in Kitwe. The money is then used to purchase the necessary vitamins and food needed to nurse malnourished children back to health, so that they may return home to their families. Since the genesis of Umweo Bags, our desire has been to not only help children who are already in desperate need, but to also figure out ways to help prevent malnourishment.

As 2011 came to an end, we had the opportunity to begin fulfilling more of our vision and desire by entering into a partnership with Seeds of Hope International to train native Zambian women how to sew Umweo Bags. Through our partnership we have been able to train and empower two women – Florence and Lister – to sew. Over the last few months, these women, along with their tutor- Carolyn – have sewn close to 80 bags. At the end of each month, they send 80% of the new bags to us and we are able to sell Umweo Bags that have actually been made in Zambia by Zambians. The other 20% of the bags are taken to local markets by the women and sold there. All of the proceeds from the bags that are ‘Made in Zambia’ go to the women who made the bags. This is an incredibly exciting partnership, because now, not only are we able to sell more bags which raises more money, but we are also able to begin preventing malnutrition before it occurs. These women who are making these bags now have an opportunity to make money, which in turn provides them with a way to more effectively care for themselves and for their children.

Our goal is to effectively work with Seeds of Hope in order to set up a tutoring program where more women may begin to learn the skills they need to sew and begin providing for their families through their new craft.

All of the bags that are sewn by Florence and Lister have the ‘Made in Zambia’ tag, so be sure to check out these authentic, handmade Umweo Bags in our online store!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Working Together for the Good of Others

We need your help!

In an effort to raise awareness, friends of Umweo Bags will donate over $600 to this amazing cause if Umweo Bags receives over 250 likes on their Facebook page, along with receiving at least 60 shares on FB and 20 new followers onTwitter by December 25.

Umweo Bags is a non-profit organization (pulling together the final paperwork for being incorporated as a 501(c)3 as you read) that was started in 2010 by Ana Rich. While on a mission trip in Zambia, with her church - the Vineyard Church of New Orleans. Ana had the opportunity to visit a malnutrition clinic in the town of Kitwe. This clinic is a place where children in the community who are malnourished are brought, most often by their parents, to be given a chance at surviving in life. While at the clinic, children are cared for by nurses who do all that they can to provide care, nutrition, vitamins and food to these children; to nurse them back to health so that they may return home to their families, healthy. At the time that Ana was visiting the clinic, there were close to 15 children being cared for and nursed back to health.

Upon returning to New Orleans from her trip to Zambia, Africa, Ana had an overwhelming desire to help, to work to figure out how she could play a part in helping these children survive. While in Zambia, Ana had the opportunity to go to market one day. While there she purchased a handmade bag from one of the local merchants. It was this bag that enlarged Ana’s imagination as she considered ways that she could help those children who are clinging to life over 9000 miles away.

After weeks of thinking and praying, Ana pulled out her old sewing machine, though she had only minor sewing skills, and began to play around with fabric and designs to try and replicate the bag that she had purchased at market. Within a few days, Ana had finally landed on her own unique pattern for the purses. And thus Umweo Bags was born.

Umweo Bags are all made out of fabrics full of vibrant colors that in some way reflect the culture of Zambia.  Bags are sold for $30 and every penny that is profit is now sent to the malnutrition clinic in Kitwe and is used to purchase the necessary food and vitamin supplements for the children.  Over the last year and a half, Ana has empowered a number of other women in the community to also make bags and today, every Umweo Bag is handmade by Ana and 5 of her friends.

To date, Umweo Bags has sent $2,675 to the malnutrition clinic which in turn has allowed the clinic to purchase food. The clinic usually only has enough funding to purchase formula. However, children over 8 months old are in need of solid foods in order to get the nutrients they need to regain their health. The money that Umweo Bags sends to the clinic enables the clinic to purchase the necessary solids, such as, fruits, mealie meal, ground nuts for protein and more.

Here are some other sobering numbers:
·         People travel anywhere from 10 miles to 150 miles in order to find help at the clinic
·         Children stay anywhere from 7 days to 30 days at the clinic
·         There is a dietician and 3 nurses that work at the clinic
·         The clinic has anywhere from 12 children to 32 a time 
·         There are only 25 beds at the clinic

Since Umweo Bags partnered with the clinic in 2010, over 95 children have been nursed back to health and have returned to their homes nourished and healthy.

It is our heart at Umweo Bags to continue to provide as much as we can financially to this clinic to provide these children with the food and vitamins they need to survive - to provide life.

Here’s how you can help:
1.       Like Umweo Bags Facebook page (here)
2.       Share Umweo Bags page on Facebook (here)
3.       Follow Umweo Bags on Twitter @umweobags

In addition to this, you may always purchase an Umweo Bag or donate directly to Umweo Bags

Friday, September 2, 2011

Clinic visit #2

Four weeks ago, we were just making it home from Zambia. It’s hard to believe the trip has already come and gone. There was so much planning and preparing that went on and now I am processing everything. I have so many thoughts going on right now like; am I doing enough? And what else can I do? There is so much that still needs to be done in Africa and there will never be enough people to do it.
Walking into the clinic this time had a totally different feel. This time I knew I was going and I had 15 months to prepare myself for what I was going to see. On the 45 minute drive out to Kitwe, the bus was silent. You could tell that everyone was thinking and trying to prepare themselves. I was praying and just talking to God and asking Him to prepare us all, and walk with us into the clinic.
Once we arrived in Kitwe, we met some of the people from the Mercy Vineyard. We went with them to the open air market to buy the food that we were going to distribute. We did not just go to some grocery store and fill up a buggy, no, there were TONS of people there and it was crazy! It was like walking into a flea market, but in a 3rd world country. We had to go to several different vendors to get everything that we needed.  We had to walk through little alley ways, up and down scary little stair ways, and passing vendors that wanted us to go into their shop. And to top it off there were horrific smells of dry fish that they eat called capenta . That in it of itself made me realize how much this church cares for the babies at the clinic and their mama’s.
After doing a little shopping it was time to head over to the clinic. This time there were only 6 babies in the clinic. It was good to see that the numbers were down. I had to keep telling myself this is good, but thoughts of what if the parents have not made it here yet, kept flooding my brain.
We walked up to the nurse that was in charge and asked her if it was okay if we pass out the food and then asked if they needed anything else. She said they were out of the vitamin syrup, so we went to 2 different pharmacy’s and bought what they had which ended up being about 20 bottles. Then we asked if it was okay that we talk to the mom’s and pray with them and she said yes.
The first baby that I prayed with was very sick. His mom said that he started having diarrhea and quit eating for 2 weeks. He was no more than about 6 months old and nothing but skin and bone. It was so sad. My heart melted for him. They made it to the clinic just in time. In his hands he was holding a picture of himself when he was well. Where they got the picture from, I do not know.  His mom said that they arrived at the clinic the day before and he grabbed the picture out of her hand and had not let it go for over 24 hours. I felt as though this was him saying, “I will make it through this and I will be a healthy little boy again.” So we prayed for him and for his mother and just really sensed that God was there. The mom just smiled and thanked us; you could tell she was at peace.
The second baby I prayed for was cute little girl. She had been at the clinic for a couple weeks and was doing really well. She had chubby cheeks and she kept sticking her tongue out. She was 3 to 6 months old. I started talking to her and she would smile and talk to me. Oh it was such a sweet moment! I asked her mom if I could hold her and she said yes. Below is a picture of me holding this sweet baby girl. She was so sweet and I wanted to take her home!
Every child in the clinic got prayed for and the team did an amazing job. My husband, Shawn was able to talk in depth to the nurse and the dietitian about other needs that the clinic has. We are still figuring out what all of that will look like for us. So, if you think about it pray for us.
Thank you for all your support that you have given to Umweo Bags!
I thought it would be great to post some pictures from the trip, so enjoy!
Me standing right outside the clinic
This is the sweet baby girl that I got to hold!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Online Store

In order to make ordering easier and more efficient we have set-up an online store for all purchases.  Click the link to the left that says SHOP NOW and you will be redirected to our online store.

Thank you all your support in providing LIFE to the children of Zambia!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We have a new style

We have decided to add a new style of bag to Umweo Bags. So now there are 2 styles to choose from. Here are a couple of pictures of what they look like.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bags sold for Vitamin syrup

So far we have sold 3 bags that will go specifically towards getting Vitamin syrup. That's $90 so far which means that 18 children will be able to recieve this vital supplement when they enter the clinic. Thank you so much!