Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bead for Life

the necklace above is mine 
BeadforLife began with a chance encounter between women. Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan, and Devin Hibbard met Millie Grace Akena while walking through a crowded Ugandan slum. They were on their way to visit a sick woman when they saw Millie sitting on the ground outside of her mud home; she was rolling small strips of paper into colorful beads in the sweltering sun. Intrigued, they stopped to talk to her.
They soon learned that Millie was originally from Northern Uganda, but had been driven from her home by Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). To protect her children from being kidnapped as soldiers, Millie fled to the Kampala slum. To support her family, she worked in a rock quarry crushing stones into pebbles with a hand mallet. In order to earn enough for one meal a day, her children often had to work alongside her in the hot, dusty quarry. For their efforts, the family earned less than a dollar a day. Millie said she loved to roll beads out of recycled paper, and proudly showed Torkin, Ginny and Devin a bag full of her unique hand-made necklaces. She also shared that she had no market for her jewelry.Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan, and Devin Hibbard admired Millie and bought a few of her necklaces, wearing them around Kampala in support of her handiwork. Immediately, others began to notice the distinct jewelry and asked where they had been purchased. Believing there was a market for the paper jewelry, they returned to Millie's slum. With her help, they met with a hundred more women who knew how to make paper beads, purchasing a few necklaces from each. At this time, they had no way of knowing that their lives, and the lives of so many impoverished Ugandans, were about to change.


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