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Bringing Hope in Ukraine

The Market Project, in tandem with a Care Partner in Chernihiv, Ukraine, is focusing on the needs of men and women impacted by disability – those who are often “ hidden” in institutions and homes. This population has had limited access to means of supporting themselves.

The Challenge

In Ukraine, there are an estimated 2.7 million individuals living with disabilities and sadly institutionalization is commonplace. This is how one report describes the situation:

Parents who attempt to keep their children with disabilities at home face enormous obstacles. Most schools will not accept children with intellectual disabilities. In addition to limited educational and vocational opportunities for children, the lack of schools creates great economic pressures on families who must stay home with their children. Except for the very few families that can exist on one income, parents of children with disabilities are forced to place their children in institutions. [No Way Home, Disability Rights International]

Independent living skills create hope

For many people with disabilities, independent living is a goal. However, this goal is unreachable without employment.

Because there are minimal supports for adults with disabilities in Ukrainian society, it is assumed that children with disabilities will remain in institutional care for a lifetime. It can be difficult to motivate children with disabilities or their caregivers to develop independent living skills – when children will never have a chance to use these skills. [No Way Home, Disability Rights International]

Meaningful work has a significant impact on individuals living with disabilities. Not only does gainful employment improve their mental and emotional health, but it makes the dream of independent living a reality. Through The Market Project, men, women, and working-age youth with disabilities will receive job-specific training, in an emotionally and physically safe community. The experience is transformative and strengthens the agency of those whom we will employ in the enterprise we launch.

The Business 

In 2017, we completed the market research for a value-added food business. “Fry shack” mobile kiosks will offer a variety of French fry dishes using locally harvested potatoes and natural ingredients for the toppings.  “Fry shack” offerings will include options from classic fries served in a cone to specialty fries loaded with flavorful meat and vegetable toppings. This enterprise makes good business sense for several reasons. Ukraine is home to a wide variety of potatoes. Ukraine also produces an abundance of sunflower oil, a healthy option that is a great choice for frying due to its high smoke point. The quality of the fries at the “fry shack” will far exceed the typical fare offered by other local street vendors.


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Perhaps you know someone who has suffered physical or psychological harm, or you have been a victim of violence yourself. The Market Project is helping end the cycle of despair, exploitation and violence.

The Market Project helps survivors of violence move from dependence on others to employment to caring for others. The healing work opportunities we create honor the dignity, capacity and creativity of men and women who have faced profound indignities.

In Uganda, we partner with care organizations working with domestic violence and trafficking survivors, former child soldiers, youth-headed households, and traumatized refugees from South Sudan.

Nguvu Dairy Limited, our small business based in Gulu, northern Uganda, produces yummy yogurt! Parents can afford to buy our yogurt and now add dairy to their children’s diet. The business brings nutritious food to a market that lacks dairy.

Nguvu’s production capacity was expanded in September 2017, and about 40 men and women now have dependable work. We are now raising funds to double Nguvu’s number of employees in 2018.



A Paradigm Shift in Economic Development

The Market Project combines the economic power of the marketplace and a deep understanding about the impact of trauma to help those who have experienced complex trauma and trafficking. A healing workplace is a vital part of aftercare that is often missing. To bridge that gap, enterprises we launch employ men and women who need to support themselves and their loved ones. We are often asked, “How do you go about building such a workplace?”


The Forgotten Targets of Human Trafficking

The past decade has brought an increased awareness of the menacing scale and scope of human trafficking. There is now growing assistance to populations vulnerable to exploitation for commercial gain.  Yet one demographic remains overlooked: men, women & children living with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Fifteen years ago modern day slavery was largely understood to mean the commercial sexual exploitation of women.  Today, the global community’s understanding of the insidious nature of trafficking has broadened. We now know that a trafficker’s exploitation of humans for profit also encompasses forced labor, organ removal, child military conscription, false marriages, and beyond. Traffickers prey on human vulnerabilities fueled by conflict, corruption, weak rule of law, poverty, and discrimination, making certain groups particularly susceptible to victimization.


Yogurt Production Starts Soon in Gulu

The front gate of the new production site in Gulu is catching the eye of passersby. Consumers eagerly await the fresh flavors of the drinking yogurt: vanilla, strawberry and lemon. 

Men and women will be hired as production workers, sales contractors, a cook and office assistant. Training follows.



Expansion of Nguvu Dairy

nguvu-logoAlready we have a dozen workers who have “found their place” producing and selling Nguvu Dairy yogurt in Adjumani, a town in northern Uganda. Nguvu Dairy is now ready to expand into a new town called Gulu with a population of 150,000. This expansion will include building out the new production facility and launching sales in Gulu will require funding for equipment, uniforms, and bicycles.


The Nutritional Value of Yogurt to Northern Uganda

“Health, Wealth and Happiness…” These are three common criteria people use to measure their satisfaction in life. Interestingly, two of the criteria fundamentally depend on “health”, and The Market Project realizes this fact. Alongside our primary goal to provide secure employment in a “trauma-informed” workplace for survivors of trafficking and other trauma, we have the opportunity to improve the health and nutrition of communities in Northern Uganda. Our business, Nguvu Dairy, Ltd., produces drinkable yogurt. Nguvu has plans to expand its production and distribution over the coming year.