Every so often, there are experiences in life so moving that they necessitate action. Events or people who are so uplifting, inspiring or heart-wrenching that they compel us to stop what we are doing and get involved. Often, our participation ends with a donation, volunteering for a few hours or helping to bring attention to the cause. But when that experience is truly life changing, the person who experienced it is usually the one who ends up changing lives. It is from these rare life changing moments, that leaders like Brittany Merrill Underwood are often born.
In 2006, during her sophomore year, Brittany met Sarah, a Ugandan women who cared for 24 street children in her home. Inspired by her generosity, Brittany founded an organization in Uganda to help house the children who had been sleeping on Sarah's floor. By the end of the year, Brittany's foundation had begun construction on an orphanage as well as over 20 clean water drinking wells throughout the country.
And yet, in traveling around the country, Brittany and her team realized just how many women were housing 10+ children in their often tiny shacks. Brittany knew that if she was to create real change, her foundation couldn't just provide shelter for the women and children, they needed to provide training, skills and hope.
After the orphanage was completed, Brittany realized the need for a new sustainable model that could provide opportunities to uplift women and children. Shortly thereafter, The Akola Project, named after "to work" in the local dialect, was born.
Since 2007, the Akola Project has blossomed into a thriving social business training women to produce beautiful handcrafted jewelry. These women, who previously lived in extreme poverty, have used their new found incomes to care for their children, send them to school and even reinvest in their communities. In the past seven years, Akola has helped lift over 2700 women and children out of extreme poverty and help them on a path to a better, more self sustaining life.
You can join the movement and transform the lives of women and children through a purchase of an Akola necklace. Hand-crafted by one of over 400 Akola trained women living in extreme poverty rural Uganda. As a non-profit organization, 100% of jewelry profits are reinvested in Akola's social mission to empower marginalized women and the lives of children in their communities.