Stella is one of countless women in the district of Gulu, Northern Uganda, who were kidnapped by rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) when they were girls and forced into sexual slavery before making their escape. Stella herself was abducted in 1995 at the age of twelve and returned home in 1997. In 2021 The Advocacy Project received a request to organize embroidery training for Women in Action for Women (WAW), an association that supports survivors of LRA brutality. Ten trainees, including Stella, produced harrowing stories which were brought to the US and assembled into three powerful advocacy quilts. After completing their war stories, the trainees asked for another training and produced embroidered images of iconic breads of Africa that have been turned into a quilt and will be used to advocate against hunger.
Stella and the other artists are keen to continue stitching as a group and hope to find a market for their embroidery. Stella certainly needs the money. She received a bullet wound to the chest during her captivity which has left her with a serious disability, and she was ostracized by other villagers after returning home. On a more positive note, Stella has earned a certificate in nursing and this has enabled her to open a small drug shop/clinic. Stella is delighted to have embroidery to fall back on. The WAW training was her first experience of stitching and she has already passed on the skill to her daughters. They now decorate their clothes with embroidery together.