Learn about the locally-based non-profit that's helping survivors of acid attacks around the world through an online shop selling super cute artisan goods!
Cincy Chic: What is RISE?
Lauren James, Program Coordinator at RISE: RISE is a US-based nonprofit working to end acid violence around the world. We are a grassroots organization which provides hope and support to acid attack survivors. We collaborate with survivor organizations around the world. We strengthen the connection between survivor and activist to effect change.
Cincy Chic: What inspired RISE?
James: The creation of the organization began with RISE founder, Dr. Angie Vredeveld meeting Christine Nakato, an acid attack survivor from Uganda. Angie was in Uganda working with an organization, helping people who were victims of trauma and in need of counseling. Angie was told that there was a woman in the village who was having difficulty leaving her house because she was so traumatized by her acid attack. At that time, Angie knew very little about acid attacks but she was ready to talk to this woman and see how she could help her. Angie spent over a year helping get Christine to the US. “I never knew how exactly I was going to help her, but I knew that I had a network and a voice and I could use those tools to try.” Angie succeeded in getting Christine pro bono surgeries. From that moment on, she believed in the power of one person to make a difference- because she had lived it. After helping Christine, and hearing that people in Cincinnati wanted to get involved, Angie decided that founding a formal organization in her community was the best way to increase RISE’s capacity so that we could, in turn, increase the capacity of other organizations.
Cincy Chic: When did RISE launch?
James: RISE was launched in 2015.
Cincy Chic: Can you tell us more about the artisan products you sell through RISE and who they benefit?
James: Many survivors make and sell crafts in their local community. The competition is steep in general, and made even more difficult by the stigma often associated with the scars carried by an acid attack survivor. RISE believes that a key component in a survivor’s healing process, is helping them develop a sense of agency. A feeling of self-sufficiency is important for survivors. Providing them an opportunity to provide for themselves has a much larger effect than just helping that one survivor. An empowered survivor can empower her family and in turn, her community. RISE provides a market for crafts created by acid attack survivors. Keeping with fair trade standards, RISE purchases these artisan products and sells them to a world-market. All proceeds from these sales go back to RISE to fund programming that helps acid attack survivors, including the Artisan Products Program.
Cincy Chic: What are price points for products made by the artisans?
James: As of this moment, prices range from $7.00 for a small beaded bracelet to $35.00 for a placemat set.
Cincy Chic: We know you’re currently working on an acid attack petition in Uganda. How is that going?
James: We have around 1,300 signatures as of now. We need so many more. It is always a challenge to raise awareness about an issue that can seem so far removed from our daily lives and in fact, our “world.” But acid attacks are rising rapidly in the UK. That isn’t so far away. And more importantly, we are living in a world without borders in the abstract sense of the word. Through social media and rapid technological advances, we can communicate with people from other continents with the click of a keystroke. I believe it is vital to understand that the sooner we realize that what happens to one of us happens to all of us, then the sooner we can work together to solve these problems. To that end, the petition is growing in numbers; just slowly.
Cincy Chic: What else will RISE be working on in 2017?
James: We have plans to implement a microloan program. This speaks again to the need for self-sufficiency – providing survivors an opportunity to develop their own business is the next step in this journey.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along with RISE?
James: Follow us on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also follow our RISE Artisan Marketplace on Instagram.