The Colorful Entrepreneurs- Bead for Life
Of all the projects I have visited so far, Bead for Life is indeed the most colourful!
The Acholi women are a displaced group who have settled in outskirts of Kampala, escaping the conflict areas in the north of Uganda.
Many are poor, many are ill, and all need a means to generate their own income. Bead for Life, an income generating support iniative gives them that opportunity- enabling them to access health case, housing support and ultimately plans for their future.
It all started when Torkin Wakefield, who had been volunteering with Reach Out Mbuya (see blog entry below), visited one of the Reach Out clients. The client, an Acholi woman, was sitting, making beads out of recycled magazines. Torkin, impressed with the quality of the work, bought some of the beads, and later showed them to her friends in the States- more and more people started admiring the beads, and Torkin realised there was a business opportunity in it.
Now a group of nearly 90 women bead on a regular basis, generating enough income individually to sustain their families. Bead for Life provides an opportunity for them to develop their business skills, and promotes the produces on-line. Beads are also sold through ‘bead parties’ in the States. Beaders are contracted for a three year period. After this time, the women ‘graduate’ with enough income and support to start their own initiatives.
On the day I visited the Bead for Life office, I met up with Irene Oker Adokorach (left), a programme assistant, and Josephine Nazziwa (right), a community co-ordinator and beader. Irene explained that she inititially started volunteering with the organisation. Being from Gulu in the north herself, she understood all to well the conditions of these women, and the situation in which they had fled from; and realised she wanted to assist them. She is now working full time for the organisation, trying to develop their programme streams, and marketing the bead works.
I am now a proud bead wearer myself too!