Editorial

Feature: Ugandan youth unlocks talent in design as COVID-19 keeps schools closed

Ugandan teenage girl Hadija Nagawa displays some of the decorated wine bottles at her home in Makindye, Kampala, Uganda, June 28, 2021. (Photo by Joseph Kiggundu/Xinhua)

KAMPALA, (Xinhua): As the world is set to commemorate International Youth Day on Aug. 12, youths in Uganda are coming up with innovative ways of bettering their lives amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has left schools closed.

While some students are attending online classes, others like Hadija Nagawa, aged 16, are not that lucky. They are left to do house chores, do a bit of reading and roam villages.

During one of her evening jogs, Nagawa’s attention was diverted to a woman who was turning used wine bottles into bottle vases.

“When I saw the lady making beautiful art pieces from old wine bottles, I immediately approached her. I greeted her and requested that she teaches me how to do the same designs,” Nagawa told Xinhua in a recent interview.

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Ugandan teenage girl Hadija Nagawa makes final touches on one of the decorated wine bottles at her home in Makindye, Kampala, Uganda. (Photo by Joseph Kiggundu/Xinhua)

The lady, who was also turning bottles into flower pots, wall hanging vases and garden decors declined to teach Nagawa saying she was busy.

This did not stop the determined Nagawa who had always wished to create her own designs. Back in school, she used to create her own designs of traditional wear.

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“I would use banana leaves, sacs and grass to create my own dresses and blouses,” she said. She was in charge of decorating the school chapel ahead of prayers.

Through self-teaching and using the internet, Nagawa was able to master the art of turning used wine bottles into anything she wanted to design. She said the closure of schools, although unfortunate, has helped her perfect her talent in designing.

“Of course it was not good news for the schools to close. At the same time, it was time for me to explore my talent further,” she said.

https://i0.wp.com/www.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2021-08/05/1310109943_16281726394021n.jpg?w=1000
Ugandan teenage girl Hadija Nagawa displays some of the decorated wine bottles at her home in Makindye, Kampala, Uganda. (Photo by Joseph Kiggundu/Xinhua)

Nagawa has since expanded her venture and even created a name for it: Lovigirl Fashion Bottles.

“My aunty helps me with some little money to buy thread, glue and other inputs. My only market is around my home, tenants and friends,” she added.

Nagawa’s brother, who has a metal fabrication showground, also helps display her finished products. Each of the products goes for about eight U.S. dollars.

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“I hope more marketing customers will come and buy my products. I also make wall and table mats,” she said.

Nagawa urged her peers locked home by the COVID-19 restrictions to think hard and come up with something practical to keep them busy.

“Let them be patient too. Let them not rush for money. They can do something to supplement what their parents earn,” she said.

Nagawa has developed a rota to enable her achieve her academic and personal goals.

“In the morning I concentrate doing some housework. I do artwork during the afternoon and turn to revising my books at night,” she said.

Nagawa has shared her skills with some of her schoolmates.

Joan Nankinga, 16, also a student at Kennedy Secondary School, is full of praises for Nagawa.

“I find her work very nice. She has taught me how to make decor bottles too. She is such a talented, smart and tidy girl,” Nankinga said.


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