Uganda — Sophia Bush can be found every week in a new episode of “Chicago P.D.” As Detective Erin Lindsay, she fights crime, battles against her past and inspires thousands of viewers. Sophia Bush in real life, however, might just be even more inspiring.
Bush is committed to using her platform to be an advocate for organizations that make a lasting impact on poverty.
In 2015, Bush traveled to Uganda with three different non-profit organizations to design new jewelry and clothing collections. Akola, 31 Bits and Sseko are Uganda-based companies that work with local women to employ, equip and empower them to break the cycle of poverty.
The goal of 31 Bits, the eco-friendly jewelry line, is to use the fashion industry to empower people through “counseling, health education, finance training and business mentorships.” The company makes its jewelry out of recycled paper. Through its five-year model, it strives to bring each beneficiary to a point where they are “educated, healthy and confident while managing a business with a sustainable income.”
Bush designed a necklace with them called “The Storyteller” because she believes her job is not simply to be an actress, but also to tell narratives that resonate with individuals and are true in the lives of those watching.
“You have to truly be telling someone’s story in order for [the acting]experience to be meaningful, and so it’s sort of a personal choice in how I look at my career,” Bush said to Sara Mohazzebi of TakePart.
Bush documented her Uganda trip through social media, a platform she approaches with great intention. She wrote on Instagram, “#31Bits was born to help rehabilitate a war-torn region. To help empower the most disadvantaged women. To return hope to families. And these amazing ladies have done it.”
Bush notes that each organization has its own strong identity and purpose. Akola, a jewelry line whose work provides victims of sex trafficking with fair wages and employment, began as their founder sought ways to build orphanages in Uganda. The founder soon realized, though, the best way to care for children is to empower their mothers.
Sseko is a company employing women who have recently graduated from high school, giving them the opportunity to earn money in order to pay for higher education. According to their website, every woman who has graduated from their program has earned or is currently pursuing a college degree. Bush worked with the company to create new sandal designs and to help introduce their latest travel bag collection.
“It was so striking to see how each company has created their own sense of community, ethos, morale and energy from the fact that each of their places is located in such a different part of the country,” Sophia Bush said.
Bush is also an ambassador for Pencils of Promise, an organization who works to “create schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all.”
After traveling with the organization to Guatemala in 2012, she decided to give her 30th birthday an important purpose beyond cake and celebration. She set out to raise $30,000 to build a school in the country of Guatemala. Bush met her goal five days before her birthday by asking friends, family and fans to donate.
Bush traveled to Uganda and Guatemala to empower women and men through education and employment, and she continues to use her platform for great purpose today. In September 2016, she attended the Social Good Summit where she interviewed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.
“My wish, my hope, my prayer is that we do not start looking at one another as ‘the other,'” said Sophia Bush after interviewing Power. “We don’t need any more divisive energy in the world. We need to remember that we are one great big tribe and that we have to take care of each other.”
Bush is an example of using time and opportunity well, inspiring countless others to action. Following her lead can be as simple as donating to one of these organizations or starting a brand new one.
– Rebecca Causey