Awata Margaret’s proud strong face gives the impression of the resilience which kept her going through years of difficulty. Born into a very poor family she was unable to go to school. By the time she was seven both her parents had died and she drifted from one relative to another. She married young to an army man and together they had three children. At 27, Margaret was widowed when her husband was killed in the war in Northern Uganda. She and her children were left destitute. Providing even a meal for her children was difficult.
Today’s organization offers an opportunity for do something to help eradicate poverty for women like Margaret.
BeadforLife works with women in Uganda who live on a dollar a day to leave poverty behind. The organization began with a chance encounter between a Ugandan woman, Millie, who was rolling beads near her mud home, and the organization’s founders, Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan, and Devin Hibbard. Stopping to admire the beads, the women learned that there was no market for Millie’s jewelry, and that she worked for a dollar a day in a rock quarry crushing stones in the hot sun. They admired her paper beads and bought a few, never realizing that their lives, and the lives of so many impoverished Ugandans, were about to change.
When friends at home admired the beads, the three women realized that there might be a market after all. Torkin returned to Uganda, and Devin and Ginny began to develop a marketing strategy. In Uganda, Torkin held classes to improve the quality of the beads and develop several styles of necklaces and bracelets. Soon women in the US began to hear the stories of the beaders and buy their beautiful jewelry.
In September of 2004 the founders launched BeadforLife in the belief that they could build bridges of understanding and commerce.
The goal is for their members to be independent of BeadforLife within 18 months by being able to support themselves within the Ugandan economy. To assist members in launching their own small businesses or in creating new revenue streams, BeadforLife provides entrepreneurial training, facilitates savings accounts, and makes business funds available. In the rural areas the program focuses on agricultural development.
According to co-founder Torkin, “BeadforLife sponsors Community Development projects in health, vocational training for impoverished youth, affordable housing, and business development. These projects are financed with the net profits from the sale of the beads and shea butter products and support not only our members, but other impoverished people living in Uganda”
From the stories on the organization’s website, it is clear that they are making a difference. Awata Margaret is one of those stories. When BeadforLife met Margaret she lived in an abandoned house that was falling down. Margaret became an industrious bead maker and her life began to change. Margaret saved her money so that she could start to build a house in the BeadforLife village. Here her natural leadership began to emerge and she was elected the chairperson of the village, a respected and strong leader. Margaret’s children are all in school. Her garden is full of food. She knows she will never be poor again.
How can you help?
- You can make a tax deductible donation to BeadforLife to help them eradicate poverty. 93 cents of every dollar donated is invested in community development projects.
- Make a purchase from the BeadforLife Store. The store sells unique handmade items including jewelry, note cards, jewelry bags, shea products, and more!
- Host a BeadParty and bring beads and shea butter products to your community event. BeadforLife makes it fun and easy to host a BeadParty with step-to-step guides, educational materials, and lots of beautiful beads.
- BeadforLife also lists additional volunteer opportunities and other ways to make a difference toward the eradication of poverty on their website.