Bead for Life

Imagine yourself, a mother to several small children, unable to feed them even just one meal a day. However, your rough, skilled fingers are able to transform bits of recycled paper into beautiful bead necklaces. Beautiful bead necklaces that no member of your community can afford to buy on a disposable income.

That’s what Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan and Devin Miller discovered on a trip to Uganda many years ago. A woman with skills who couldn’t sell her handmade jewelry in order to provide for herself and her family.

Along came the development of BeadforLife organization. A collaboration of people that saw a market in one nation and a great need in another. By teaching women to create the supply of paper bead jewelry in Uganda, it could meet a demand and be sold for a profit in the U.S.

Imagine what can happen when you provide more than the disposable income of $1 a day. Imagine what can happen when you offer a training program to women that not only teaches them the skills to create a product but the means by which to market it. On top of that, provide some clean water, health education, mentorship classes and medical care and what do you have?

A foundation that begins to change lives for women and their children, forever.

Fast forward ten years…

  • BeadforLife has now reached over 40,000 people in Uganda.
  • 81% of the women who have entered the program now run successful businesses of their own.
  • 98% of the children born to a member of BeadforLife are now enrolled in school.
  • Over 2,490 micro-businesses have been started by BeadforLife graduates.

…and it just keeps on going.

To be clear, BeadforLife is not a lifetime program. The intent behind the program is to educate women and provide the means of helping them to establish a sustainable income. Those who are accepted into the program to create jewelry do so for a period of time until they graduate with the skills to sustain themselves and their families.

But what does all of this have to do with you and me?

Advocating for women and children has become a true passion for me. While I’m raising up four children of my own it’s easy to realize that I don’t have the time I’d love to dedicate to these causes 24/7, however, what I can do is raise awareness and offer support during the fringe hours of my day. Sharing BeadforLife with followers on Instagram has been one of my favorite ways to spread the word on this organization. Blogging has been a close second.

Yet an even greater way to become involved is to host a BeadforLife Marketplace that will give you and your attendees an up close and personal look at many of the items offered for sale on the website. Guests can see for themselves the quality and care behind each piece and are welcome to buy from the inventory made available to the host, as well as to give them an idea of what they would be ordering if they choose to purchase online.

BeadforLife makes it so easy to host one of these events. In addition to the variety of inventory you are sent to display, they also remember to include everything you need to engage with your guests as you share the story behind these handmade items.

Here are some of the pictures from my recent BeadforLife Marketplace:

It was a wonderful turnout!

Just to recap a bit – once I received all of the information I needed and chose a date for the party I began to advertise. Utilizing Instagram, Facebook, my church’s bulletin, and, of course, by word of mouth, I was able to get the word out that I would be hosting a party. I chose to make this particular event a “revolving door” that allowed guests to come between the hours of 5:30-8:00, making it easier on everyone’s schedules. Adding a few simple refreshments also gave a great opportunity to engage members of the community in fellowship – not to mention making it easier to have quaint little one-on-one conversations to chat about the organization and hand out brochures for future reading.

As a bonus, my children were completely enamored by this event. Seeing so much inventory up close and personal was an eye-opening experience for them. And my oldest daughter was my first customer! She purchased one of the Sanyu (single long) necklaces and wore it for her middle school pictures several days later.

I would love to encourage you to consider hosting a BeadforLife Marketplace in your own circle, as well. You don’t need a large space and could even choose to have your attendees come and go to keep things less crowded, if you like. Everything you need will arrive in the box – and I’d like to add that the communication from the organization is top-notch should you have questions, need clarification or just a number of ideas to help you out.

In the meantime, here are some great links I’ve included below to help you become familiar with their organization, their products and the Marketplace.

Come learn how such little beads make big dreams…

  • To read more about the story behind BeadforLife follow the link here.
  • If you’re interested in hosting a Marketplace of your own, you can get more information here.
  • If you’d like to order some of the lovely product created by beautiful hands I encourage you to check out their store.
  • For more information about BeadforLife and their additional Street Business School program I encourage you to visit their site and sign up for their newsletter, here.