BeadforLife Article

BeadforLife Article

by Lisa Coen, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Photos Courtesy of Charles Steinberg

Imagine you have lost family members--perhaps even your spouse--to war. Imagine one or more of your children has been kidnapped and enslaved. Imagine suffering with HIV or AIDS. Imagine all of this along with daily hunger. Hard to imagine, isn't it? However, many of these situations are a brutal reality for people living in war-torn areas. It was a reality for many women in Uganda until BeadforLife came into their lives in September of 2004.

BeadforLife Article BeadforLife is a remarkable poverty eradication organization that began as a small grass-roots effort. Founded by Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan and Devin Hibbard, BeadforLife helps women in Uganda sell their jewelry and assists them in creating revenue streams to support themselves and their families. The organization's work is best expressed in their mission statement: "BeadforLife creates sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone."

It all began with a chance meeting between the organization's founders and a Ugandan woman named Millie. One day Torkin, Ginny and Devin happened upon Millie who was rolling paper beads outside of her mud home. Millie explained there was no way to market her beads and jewelry; she worked in a rock quarry crushing stones for one dollar a day. The women purchased some of Millie's beads and took them back to the United States. Since then, people in the United States and beyond are purchasing the beads and jewelry designed by the Ugandan women.

BeadforLife offers colorful, charismatic beads and jewelry for sale online. They've also created a Bead Party program which enables people in North America to sell the items created by the Ugandan women in a large party setting, with the proceeds going back into the BeadforLife program. BeadforLife Article

BeadforLife Article In addition to setting up revenue streams for the women, BeadforLife provides entrepreneurial training, business funding, health programs and other community services. After the initial training program, the average beader's income increases almost seven times. Also, as many families have been displaced by war, the program offers them the chance to build a home of their own in the "Friendship Village." Established in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in 2007, this community-named neighborhood offers Ugandan families the chance to own their own homes by selling and bartering their beads and jewelry.

BeadforLife offers the women in Uganda benefits even beyond that of earning the financial means to provide for themselves and their families--they are gaining self-esteem, pride and hope for a brighter future. Each day, BeadforLife is turning impoverished women into an empowered community.

Design Idea C33R Necklace
BeadforLife Article

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