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After being welcomed into the Acholi Community of Uganda, I realized - as I took photos and documented their lives - that I needed to become an active participant and get more involved. Over the years we went from being photographer - subject to close friends.
While on assignment working on a documentary about Uganda's Acholi Quarter, Malden resident Karen Sparacio became so impressed at the spirit and strength of the women she interviewed, she felt compelled to do more than capture their stories on camera. She wanted to engage with these women in a more active way. Eventually she founded a non-profit organization that would help the women in the Acholi Quarter strive for economic independence and improved well-being.
Sparacio describes the transition from photojournalist to friend as a step toward a more active role with the Acholi women. It was their hopeful and positive demeanor, despite tremendous hardship, that caught her attention. That resilient spirit continues to inspire her work as the Executive Director of Project Have Hope and she is eager to share it with the world.
The various programs and projects of Project Have Hope programs harness local skills and available resources so that members of the Acholi community can start businesses and sell their products or services. The online shop offers jewelry, home goods, apparel, toys, and other handmade items to individuals for retail or re-sellers at wholesale. Anyone can sign up to sponsor a child or woman. Volunteer and internship opportunities draw individuals from all over. Many other Project Have Hope programs are focused on local business, agriculture, and healthcare initiatives. They are examples of intelligent resourcefulness, all intended to foster a workable economic ecosystem for the Acholi Quarter community.
In July 2017, Project Have Hope initiated a social media campaign inviting the entire world to share #IHaveHope stories. Curated with hashtag #900StoriesOfHope, Sparacio wishes to spur a worldwide movement of hope. She believes that the process of sharing hope can "create a much more positive and hopeful worldwide community for all of us."