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BeadforLife #FairTradeFridays

July 11, 2014
fairtradeartWhen you visit our

Fair Trade Gallery, it's hard to miss the vibrant display of BeadforLife necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They're perfect for layering with each other or pairing with other pieces of jewelry to add a pop of color to any outfit. These eye-catching pieces of jewelry become even more beautiful when you know the story behind them.

BeadforLife began as a chance encounter between women. During a hot stroll through a crowded Ugandan slum, BeadforLife co-founders Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan, and Devin Hibbard came across Millie Grace Akena as she sat on the ground outside her mud home rolling strips of paper into colorful beads. They stopped to talk to her and learned that Millie had fled her home in Northern Uganda to save her children from being forced into becoming child soldiers.

In her new home in the slum, Millie and her family barely survived on less than a dollar a day. She worked in a rock quarry, often with her children working beside her. She explained that she enjoyed rolling beads out of recycled paper and showed Torkin, Ginny, and Devin a bag filled with unique handcrafted necklaces. The Americans purchased a few necklaces, having no idea they were about to embark on a venture that would improve the lives of thousands impoverished Ugandan families.

beadforlife-braceletsThe necklaces attracted interest as Torkin, Ginny, and Devin wore them around Kampala, and the three women realized there was a marketing opportunity for Millie's jewelry. They returned to the slum and with Millie's help met a hundred more women who knew how to make the beads. They purchased more necklaces from each woman and brought them back to the U.S., sharing the stories of the resilient Ugandan women.


BeadforLife believes in opportunities not handouts

In 2004, BeadforLife was officially born. At first, the idea was to provide sustainable market opportunities for a few dozen women from Millie's slum. Today, the organization provides opportunities for thousands of women and their families. The Ugandan jewelry artists are paid fair wages up front for their work, allowing them to earn money to benefit their families and communities. BeadforLife takes it even further by providing entrepreneurial training to women to teach them how to invest their earnings into small businesses or farms that will help them earn a high enough income to sustain their families into the future.

Last year, BeadforLife helped improve the lives of 10,000 Ugandans in 2,200 households. To read more inspiring stories about these determined and hardworking  beaders, visit the BeadforLife website.

Little Traveler
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