How did the 22STARS

    Foundation get started?

    Empowered women empower women!












  • Over the years


  • Our Story


    Meet Aidah, Stella and Susan!

    22STARS was created thanks to the friendship of Susan Laker (Ugandan), Aidah Wafula (Ugandan) and Stella Airoldi (Dutch/German), who met for the first time in 2009. Back then Stella was 23 years old and studied international law, which led her to Uganda to do research for her thesis. After Aidah, a social worker at an HIV/Aids Information Center in Kampala, met Stella and learned of her background, she introduced Stella to several women in need, who had fled from the war in Northern Uganda. Among them was Susan, who was only two years older than Stella. The girls needed Aidah to translate, but no translation was needed to see Susan's extreme will power and big heart!


    When Stella sent money annually to Aidah to support Susan`s handmade paper jewellery business, Susan took the opportunity to go back to school. Also, Susan’s three children, who worked in the stone quarry to put food on the table, started to go to school. At the end of 2012, Stella returned to Kampala and was extremely impressed when Susan spoke to her in English and showed her what she had learned. Susan expressed the need to market and sell jewellery from the other women in her community, so that they all would be able to pay for the education of their children. The very same day the 22STARS Jewellery business was created. With the profit of the sales various social programs to serve the community were set up in Kampala and later also in Jinja. In 2015, Susan became the project leader of the Jewellery business in Acholi Quarter in Kampala. During this time, Aidah focused on a new group of women, needing her help as much as Susan did. Aidah moved to Jinja to serve the community of Danida, one of the poorest areas in Jinja and where her father was born. Soon after 22STARS started a jewellery project with Aidah as project leader in Jinja. As the 22STARS Jewellery business faced many challenges, Stella decided to register 22STARS also as a Public Benefit Foundation in The Netherlands in 2017. Aidah and Susan respectively registered a Grassroot organization in Uganda to run the social programs for the community in Kampala and Jinja.


    While Susan and Aidah work on the ground in Uganda, Stella works partly with them in Uganda, helping with the administrative work and reporting, and partly remotely, where she focuses foremost on fundraising. Since Susan and Aidah live on the ground, they know best what their local communities need, and Stella acts as a “bridge” between Uganda and the Western world to help translate these needs into feasible proposals and fundraising campaigns. At least once a week the ladies come together, either in person or on ZOOM, to discuss the progress and needs of the children.

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    "Together Aidah, Stella and Susan are the trio who run the 22STARS foundation."

  • Our Project Locations


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    Background of Acholi Quarter in Kampala

    Acholi quarter is a poverty-stricken community in Kampala. The community is mostly comprised of Acholi people who fled from war affected areas in Northern Uganda during the civil war from 1986-2006. The community is also comprised of many other tribes i.e., Busoga, Baganda, Itesos, Banyankole, Banyarwanda. Stone quarrying is the most common form of employment which was, and still is, being carried out.


    However, many people are leaving the quarry as increasing market demand has meant that new opportunities for business have become available. 22STARS is an organization that is positively impacting the Acholi Quarter community by providing education and medical support to children. It is currently facilitating entrepreneurship skills and knowledge training so as to equip the youths, adults and parents with sustainable business ideas in order to make their passion a reality and help them to help themselves.



    Background of Danida in Jinja

    According to previous and current research conducted by the Uganda Bureau of statistics, Busoga (Eastern Ugandan) is one of the poorest regions in the country, the number of poor people living in rural areas is approximated to be 10 million.


    To be part of the solution to this crisis, 22STARS established their second project location in the Jinja District, with the main objectives being poverty eradication and reduction of unemployment through entrepreneurship knowledge, experience and skills training, and school sponsorships.

  • Mission & Vision


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    Empowering families through education, entrepreneurship and local leadership


    We believe that economic development and education, along with fostering a strong sense of community, are key to helping communities break free of poverty. Our projects use an integrated approach to community development - focusing on the development of economic, social, natural, human, and cultural capital. Our programs and projects empower Ugandan people to preserve their culture, environment, and society. Our values are: respect, reliability, compassion and transparency.


    Our long-term vision is to have our own education center, where both teenagers and their parents can learn and develop their entrepreneurship skills.

  • What makes us different from other charities


    At 22STARS,we are not just another NGO; we're a community-driven initiative with a heartfor making tangible differences in the lives of children and families in Uganda. Here's what sets us apart from other organizations:



    We don't just parachute in and out of communities. Our roots run deep as we work hand in hand with local leaders and individuals, understanding their needs and empowering them to create sustainable change from within.

    Digital Nomads:


    Our Founder Stella is a so called "Digital Nomad". Allowing her to spend months a year in Uganda and being a bridge between the sponsors and beneficiaries. The Ugandan team learned how to use Online Tools and work partly remote, which saved us during Covid-19. And many Digital Nomads offered their skills to us.

    Sponsor Involement 

    Unlike larger organizations where distance can create a disconnect, we welcome sponsors and donors to visit us in Uganda, see our projects firsthand, and witness the impact of their support.

    Holistic Approach: 

    Education is at the core of what we do, but we go beyond academics. We provide comprehensive support, including healthcare, entrepreneurship training, and community development programs, addressing the diverse needs of the communities we serve.

    Transparency and Accountability

    We operate with utmost transparency, ensuring that every donation is used effectively and efficiently. Our commitment to accountability means donors can trust that their contributions are making a real difference.


    22STARS isn't just another project for us; it's our life's work. We're driven by a shared vision of empowerment and opportunity
    for every child, family, and community we serve. With a small and dedicated team, we're not just employees; we're the founders, pouring our passion and dedication into every aspect of our work.

  • Meaning behind the logo


    Stars are used as a symbol of the inter-connectivity and unity of humankind!


    Each person on Earth has access to the vastness of the night sky, by simply looking up. Stars mean hope, guidance and protection; our 22STARS artisans used them during times of war to navigate to a safe place. The number 22 stands for turning dreams into reality in order to make the world a better place.


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  • From Product-Based to Donation-Based


    Product-Based Model

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    With the 22STARS Jewellery business (est. in 2013), we have been able to empower families in Uganda, using funding primarily from selling handmade goods. Each product has been purchased upfront from our artisans, taking the sales risk away from them. Additionally, this product-based model has helped us to carry out social programs for the artisans and their children. Although we have faced many challenges such us, production issues, fluctuations in sales, high shipping, packaging, and marketing costs and having to pay 21% tax fo each product sale.... we are still active with the Jewellery shop!


    We started the Foundation to increase the impact of our social programs. Nonetheless because we love the handmade products, and they help us to spread the message of what we do at 22STARS, we continue! We have eliminated our risks, by only accepting small orders for easier to make products. Furthermore, our profits still help our social programs, and we give our artisans the ability to sell their goods directly to visitors who come to visit us in Uganda.



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    Donation-Based Model

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    In 2017 we started the Foundation alongside the social jewellery business. With the main reason being: What about the children who do not have parents who can make jewellery to sell to Europe? Should they not go to school? Of course not! We have seen firsthand the difference that an education makes and wanted to expand our project to enable more children to attend school.


    The donation-based model is perfect for this. As we have the tax-exempt status, it is more attractive for people to donate to us. Also, we are exceptionally transparent with the amount of donations we receive and what we spend it on as no goods or services can be given in return of a donation. People support a specific child over years or donate to a concrete project, which makes things very clear. Our recurring donations, make it possible for us to plan ahead, and avoid the hassle of selling enough bracelets for school fees.


  • Your help for people in need is changing lives!

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