About Us

Milla Happonen

How it all began

Uganda has been my home for over 20 years. I have lived on three continents. I was born in Finland and moved to Canada with my husband in the 1980s. From Canada, we moved as a family to Uganda in 1995. Touched by the poverty around us and in the spirit of the holidays, we planned to host a Christmas meal for 120 poor families in our Kampala neighborhood. We asked our friends and family to help us. We were overwhelmed by the generous donations of people wanting to help.

That Christmas, we ended up providing a month’s worth of food to over 600 people. It made me feel so good to see how thankful families were that someone cared about them and wanted to help.

However, I soon realized that this was not a long-term solution to their problems. I established Caring Hands to give poor families a chance to get a job, make some money, and find a way out of poverty. Our Livelihood Program gives disadvantaged women and youth the tools they need to become independent and build a future. Their stories are inspiring.

It gives me joy to see young lives change with hopes and opportunities for the future. By buying Caring Hands jewelry you can also help to lift families out of poverty and give young Ugandans a chance to build a brighter future. I hope you appreciate the unique craftsmanship and exquisite designs. Your purchase will provide individuals a new lease on life.

Milla Happonen

Caring Hands Director

about us

Caring Hands

Caring Hands was founded in 2005 and was registered as a Non–Governmental Organization in 2008. During the first years, Caring Hands focused on empowering over 50 women by training them to make recycled paper jewelry and by marketing their products. Caring Hands became widely known for these beautiful, high quality products. The profits from the sales were used to empower vulnerable people living in poverty (2005–2010). Later, Caring Hands received funding from USAID and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (2010 – 2016).

Caring Hands has also trained over 1000 young people and facilitated the formation of 39 Village Saving and Loan Association Groups (VSLA) with over 900 community members in the greater Kampala area. The saving groups create access to capital for businesses for the members.

Currently, the main source of income for Caring Hands is the proceeds from the sales of handcrafted jewelry made from recycled materials and donations.

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

There is high unemployment in Uganda among the youth (64%). The Caring Hands Strategic Plan 2017–2020 aims at contributing to a better livelihood for young adults, especially women (18 – 30 year olds) in our community. The activities in achieving this goal is to train in entrepreneurship skills and to create access to capital.


Caring Hands strives to empower unemployed youth and women to fulfill their right to meaningful work and livelihoods.

Beneficiaries and activitiesCaring Hands UG 1

The Economic Livelihood Program offers a four–month entrepreneurship training for 100 vulnerable young adults annually. The target is 18–30 year olds living in poverty, women, slum dwellers, single parents, people living with HIV, people living with disabilities, the educated unemployed, and school dropouts. The training includes: business planning, how to start small businesses, savings groups, promoting access to funding for small businesses, acquiring skills through apprenticeship as well as start-up kits. Caring Hand’s staff monitors the performance of started businesses by beneficiaries and gives technical support. Caring Hands is committed to contribute to the development of our community. We focus on improving the well–being of the most vulnerable members by empowering them through training. This gives them the opportunity of independence.

Implementation findings 2017 -2018

The Economic Livelihood Program entrepreneurship trainings has been running for two years (2017 -2018). When an assessment was made of the program, it found that women over the age of 30 wanted to attend the trainings also. We are now adhering to these findings and in 2019 vulnerable women over the age of 30 have been included in the trainings.


Caring Hands (Uganda) works together with Caring Hands Finland ry and Caring Hands Society (Canada). Together we market our recycled products and develop the Caring Hands Centre in Bweyogerere (suburb in Kampala). In 2017, Caring Hands signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wakiso District Local Government. The Memorandum of Understanding aims at harmonizing the efforts of Caring Hands with the District and Caring Hands in providing socioeconomic livelihood services.

Future plans

Caring Hands Centre has excellent facilities that are used for carrying out the activities that contribute to bettering the community. We are looking for diverse ways on how to increase the funding for these activities. Caring Hands (Uganda) works closely with Caring Hands Society (Canada) for the further development of the property. The goal is to develop the plot in such a way that it will generate sustainable rental income.

Caring Hands is striving to further develop and broaden the markets of their recycled products.

Caring Hands also works at developing the capacity of their committed, hardworking staff.