Invisible Children began in the spring of 2003 when 3 young film makers from Southern California travelled to Africa in search of a story. On their travels they learnt of the tragedy of child soldiers in Northern Uganda and were inspired to make a documentary named “Invisible Children: Rough Cut”. The film exposes the horrifying reality of how the Lord’s Rebel Army (LRA) abducted and indoctrinated children into its ranks in order to keep its strength against the Ugandan army, in the face of falling popularity and support (to read more about the LRA click here http://www.invisiblechildren.com/history-of-the-war ). Hit hard by what they had seen and constantly asked ‘how can I help?’ by viewers of their film they founded Invisible Children Inc. Invisible Children Inc. is a not-for-profit entrepreneurial organisation that gives compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation at hand, and in doing this it helps thousands of war effected individuals and families.
Picture courtesy of Invisible Children.
Invisible Children “use the power of media to inspire young people to help end the longest running war in Africa.” In doing so they rally support, lobby politicians and raise much needed funds for their long-term development projects. These projects include rebuilding schools that have been devastated by war, providing secondary school and university scholarships, and micro-economic initiatives.
One Invisible Children project that really caught the eye of AfricaFashionGuide is a tailoring centre employing 13 formerly abducted child soldiers that now runs entirely self-sufficiently. Not only looking to make a significant difference to the economic situation of these women and their families, MEND also makes an important stand against the loss of personal connection between consumers and producers in modern global supply chains (see their brilliant video http://vimeo.com/6952093 ).
Courtesy of Invisbile Children.
The MEND workshop produce a collection of high quality bags and each bag is labelled with the name of the tailor who made it, thus truly “giving high style a heart beat”. With these names customers can access an online profile about the tailor and connect a story with their purchase. Allowing them to genuinely answer the MEND byline – ‘who made your bag?’. In a world of complex global supply chains where accountability and responsibility in production is not only minimal but also extremely complex to create, MEND are taking a stand and an entirely different approach. We agree that it is great to buy product that is Fairtrade. ethical and sustainable, but the fundamental connection is often what lacks in the supply chain from producer to consumer and so knowing who made your t-shirt garment product and their story is what gives MEND that extra kudos within the arena of ethical fashion. They see the value of the producer-consumer connection and are using that to benefit women who most need it. To read more about MEND and the women involved click here.
And check out the new Sneak Peek only posted this week of the new logo and prototypes.. (But Shh.. it’s still a secret).
Courtesy of Invisible children – MEND blog
Invisible Children also have a clothing line of campaigning T-shirts which they are working towards having made entirely from organic cotton grown and sewn in Uganda in order to bring the most value to local farmers. Currently, due to design limitations and availability, they use a variety of T-shirt suppliers including Edun, Next Level Apparel, American Apparel and NAME by Apolis, all of whom are chosen for their high codes of conduct. Purchasing an Invisible Children T-shirt will not only add a certain oomph to your wardrobe but also help Invisible Children reach their goal of an entirely Ugandan organic supply chain, and of course support their valuable projects.
Picture of 3D slogan T-shirt courtesy of Invisible Children
Onyx Feather, a socially responsible modern-jewellery line, believes in spotlighting what has been overlooked by recycling discarded items, combining vintage pieces with modern materials to create something entirely new and unforgettable. This concept is not only a point of inspiration for jewellery design but something that is at the very heart of Onyx Feather as a socially aware business as 15% of every purchase is given to Invisible Children.
Courtesy of Lanalou Style
At Africa Fashion Guide we’re really impressed with Invisible Children’s work, especially the MEND project, we hope it inspires others to rebuild the personal connection between producers and consumers and help to bridge the ever expanding gaps and inequalities in global supply chains.
Look out for Invisible Children and their MEND bags featuring in our book ‘Fashion Africa’ launching Sept 9th 2011!