We empower families in Uganda to rise above poverty by using Education, Entrepreneurship and Local Leadership. We believe that economic development and education combined with a strong sense of communal belonging will empower and position our communities to protect and preserve their culture, environment, and communities and to rise above poverty. Our projects represent an integrated approach to community development, focused on the development of economic, social, natural, human, and cultural capital.
What makes us different from other organizations is that we include the whole community and hence don't focus only on a few of them. We work in the poorest areas of Kampala and Jinja, where the need for a lot of things is very high. However, through our project managers who live within the communities, we know the best what their community needs and what brings the biggest longest impact.
22STARS' meaning: stars symbolize how everything is interconnected in this world; we can all can see the stars and they symbolize hope, guidance and protection. 22 is said to be a master number that turns the most ambitious dreams into reality and makes the world a better place!
Meet Susan, Stella and Aidah
This trio runs together the 22STARS foundation and met back in 2009, when Stella was volunteering at an Aids Information Center in Kampala, where Aidah was working. Stella told Aidah about her International Law Research Thesis about Post War Victims and Aidah quickly connected Stella to Susan. The girls met using a translator to communicate, but to understand Susan's jokes and see her big heart no one needs a translation! Susan was certain that she would see Stella again in her life, and she wanted to make sure that when that happened, she would be able to talk to Stella directly. Hence when Stella send once a year money to Aidah and Susan for their handmade paper jewellery, Susan took this opportunity to go back to school!
And Susan was right, the time came that Stella went back to Kampala end of 2012! Susan learned not just English, but she also learned how to read, write and use a computer! So the girls could start chatting directly without Aidah being in between! Time passed and Susan became in 2015 our project manager in Acholi Quarter in Kampala- an internally displaced camp for people - like Susan - who fled from the war with the LRA and Joseph Kony in Northern Uganda. And Aidah, she of course did not leave the picture! Aidah could focus on a new group of women, needing her help as much as Susan did; Aidah moved to Jinja end of 2015 to serve the community where her father was born! This place, called Danida, is one of the poorest areas of Jinja and we started in 2016 our second 22STARS program over here. Currently we are sending 190 children to school in Kampala, and 125 children in Jinja and run our 5 development projects in both communities.
While Susan is our local project manager in Kampala, Aidah is our local project manager in Jinja, and Stella, well she works from anywhere! Susan and Aidah know best what their local communities need, while Stella's unique nomadic lifestyle brings also a lot of advantages in. Stella is in Uganda about 5 months a year, bringing visitors to the projects, making payments and helping out where needed. The other 7 months she connects with donors around the world and makes sure the operations run smoothly. If you like to become part of our team and help us out, don't hesitate to send an email!
Project Manager in Kampala
Susan lives in Acholi Quarters in Kampala since 20 years, which is an internally displaced camp for refugees from Northern Uganda. Susan got pregnant in the military barracks when she was only 13 year old, she is Hiv positive, survived cancer and tuberculosis. But this did not stop her! Susan is a big example that nothing is impossible! When she became to weak to crash stones in the stone quarry with her children, she became creative and started making jewellery. With the money she earned she went back to school herself, enabling her now to work for the foundation and help many more women and children. Susan has three children in the age of 17, 19 and 21. Susan loves cooking, dancing and making jokes.
Founder / Executive Director
Stella was born in Germany, but moved with 6 years to The Netherlands where she studied International Law. Stella also did an advanced master in Human Rights and Democracy and worked for the EU delegation in China in 2012. When Stella came back to Uganda she realized that instead of working for other people in an office, she could have a bigger impact working on the ground, bundling her forces with Susan and Aidah. Stella also had very clear ideas on how development work could be done better, and hence 22STARS was born. Stella rents out her home in Europe and leads a basic nomad lifestyle in order to devote her time to helping people in need. Stella is about 5 months a year in Uganda and the other 7 months she is all over the world: frequently speaking at conferences about making a Social Impact and working remotely. Stella loves sleeping under the stars and calls herself a Social Impact Nomad.
Project Manager in Jinja
Aidah was working in 2009 in an Aids information center where she met Stella. Aidah introduced Stella to Susan, and was the initial contact between both ladies, until Susan became independent. Aidah runs now our projects in Jinja, in one of the poorest areas called Danida. Aidah her family was born there, but Aidah was able to escape poverty and go to school as a child. Now she has the deep urge to help others in need, who were less fortunate then herself. Aidah is married to David Wafula, who used to work at the same organization in 2009 where she met Stella. David helps Aidah with a lot of her work on the ground, to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Aidah also loves making jewellery, and making clothes out of African Fabrics. Aidah loves her four children and she loves to sing and dance.
Staff in Uganda
Without these wonderful people on the ground we would not be able to manage all our projects and kids!
Peace is sponsored and in S-4 boarding school. She is very enthusiastic and outgoing and helps us during her holidays with our after school activities. She loves dancing and singing. Location: Kampala.
Derrick is sponsored and in S-2 in adult school. Derrick helps us out with all technical related stuff and our after school project. He loves footballl. Location: Kampala.
Beatrice helps us with our nutrition project. She cooks every Sunday for all 200 kids and buys the food for them. She loves cooking. Location: Kampala.
Sekate Philosophy is a motor-taxi driver and is the one we send regularly to town to buy things for our projects. He loves to sing and play football. Location: Kampala.
Richard has a couple medical diplomas and he owns a small clinic and medical shop in Acholi Quarters. He helps us with treatment for our children when they are sick. Location: Kampala.
Lilian loves helping with cooking for our children in Kampala every Sunday. She also loves being with the visitors when they are here.Location: Kampala.
Masika Doricka is sponsored and is going to S-2 boarding school. Masika is always smiling and in her holidays she loves washing dishes and cooking for us. She also loves reading a lot. Location: Kampala.
Alice is almost every day at the Foundation 22STARS in Kampala, running small errands for us. She loves helping us with the kids on Sundays and she is very concerned about their hygiene, always making sure they wear clean clothes. Location: Kampala.
Margret is part of our small business trainings and she loves cooking for the kids on Sunday. She is our community mobilizer. She is a very outgoing woman and she loves dancing to welcome any visitors we have at our project. Location: Kampala.
Aboo Norah spends her time with us by counseling our children, as she is a teacher by profession. She likes singing and dancing, and one day she would love to build her own school, as she loves children. Location: Jinja.
Irene is our community mobilizer. . Irene never went to school and is very grateful that her kids have this opportunity. She is passionate about what she does, and her dream is to build a daycare and help other children in need. Location: Jinja.
Ruth loves helping to cook for the kids on Saturday in Jinja. She is very outgoing and talkative. She loves being with her friends and she loves to run and play netball. Location: Jinja.
Lukia helps us cook for the kids on Saturday in JInja and to keep our office clean. She loves dancing and having fun with her friends. Location: Jinja.
Doreen helps us by teaching our children after school. She helps them with their home work and to make sure they do well in school. Doreen loves singing and dancing. Location: Jinja.
Pastor David Wafula is the husband of Aidah. He holds a Bachelor degree in Theology and a masters degree in Organizational Leadership and Management. In his free time he loves singing and making people laugh. Location: Jinja.
All board members have been to Uganda to visit 22STARS, are volunteering and sponsor several children
Klaus Friedhelm Muller
The Remote Team
Why we changed our product based model to a donation model!
This is probably not the first time that you have heard about 22STARS, while the 22STARS FOUNDATION was only established in 2017, the social business 22STARS JEWELLERY was founded in 2013 and its story began back in 2009, when the founder Stella Romana Airoldi went to Uganda to do research for her thesis in international humanitarian law. She met Aidah Wafula who introduced her to several women in need.
In particular, the story of Susan Laker -who was about Stella's age and had to seek refuge in military barracks when she was only 13 years old and where she got pregnant with her first son – touched Stella's heart. Also Stella loved Susan's wittiness and the two became soon best friends. Stella's creativity, wish to help the war affected people and her strong connection with Aidah and Susan were the reason to start 22STARS jewellery a few years later in 2013.
With the jewellery business, we have been able to empower families in Uganda for years, using funding primarily from selling handmade goods that were made by the 22STARS artisans. This product-based model empowered our families in Kampala and Jinja and helped us to carry out our social programs on the ground. Artisans like Susan Laker, where able to go back to school and offer education to their children. We are still active with the 22STARS jewellery shop and keep changing lives, however, as product sales are very unpredictable and we wanted to reach more people, we started the 22STARS FOUNDATION next to the social jewellery business.
Why? We saw firsthand the difference that an education makes and wanted to expand our projects to enable more children to go to school and also educate their families with entrepreneurship skills. While our product model is a great way to help people out of poverty by making sure they become self-sustainable, the sales are also highly dependent on the western market. Our production costs and marketing costs are high and at times we would sell nothing at all. Hence, why we needed a model that would provide the communities in Uganda with a more stable and consistent income stream and focus on Education, Local Leadership and Entrepreneurship. The Foundation runs completely independent from the jewellery business (although we still do receive their profit as a donation for our projects and our Ugandan artisans are able to sell their goods also directly to the visitors who come to Uganda!). We are able to carry out our projects now on a much larger scale!
Our local project managers Susan Laker (Kampala) and Aidah Wafula (Jinja) are thrilled with the new livelihood projects and reported back the positive difference they are already making. We plan on increasing this impact! Please share the story of 22STARS, become a recurring donor for our social projects, sponsor a child long-term, give us some of your time and skills and visit us in Uganda!
Thank you for your support!