Sarasota, Florida - The Sarasota Film Festival gives its top honor to a woman from halfway around the world. She is making a difference for all women, one stitch at a time.
Cameras start flashing and everyone rushed to shake her hand as she entered the Sarasota Yacht Club. She's bigger than a Hollywood star in the eyes of many women worldwide.
"I like women to live above it all."
Above life's pain and challenges, says Sister Rosemary Nyriumbe. She knows it all first-hand through the atrocities that girls in Uganda have suffered. Rebels from Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army used girls as young as 13 years old as sex slaves. Then after six years of bondage, the rebels released the women back to their villages -- many as mothers -- only to be rejected and become victims once again.
Sister Rosemary says, "These are women working with their heads down, women who've lost their dignity, robbed from them."
The girls find a home in Sister Rosemary's vocational school at Saint Monica's Vocational School in Gulu, Uganda. It's a place to heal, to learn new skills, to find hope. Her story is the center of the movie and book titled Sewing Hope.
Sister Rosemary empowers women one stitch at a time using pop tabs sent from the U.S. The women are paid to make the purses sold on SistersUnited.com. The money is used to fund their education.
Sister Rosemary says, "These are women whom I encourage there's hope. You can still do something better, there's still time to define your life in a better way for the future."
Sister Rosemary's work earns her Sarasota Film Festival's Impact Award.
Her message of hope may be about the atrocities the women of Uganda faced, but it's also a message of hope that inspires women worldwide.
"You've got to know your life can be rebuilt from where it seems to have stopped," she says.