Paper Beads

Today is Mercantile Monday and we’re heading to Uganda! Can you believe it? These beautiful pieces of jewelry are made from paper! Strips of paper (often from recycled magazines) are rolled into beads of various sizes and strung with seed beads to create unique pieces of art that you wear!

I was in Uganda in the fall of 2017, and I can tell you that Ugandans are some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. Joyce, a woman who worked at our guest house gave us a lesson on how to make paper beads one day, and though my bead got the “thumbs up” of approval, I could only imagine how long it would take to make an entire necklace. I purchased dozens from her, many of which had several strands of these paper beads. I asked her how long it took her to make just one: 3-4 days!

They’re rolled, sealed with glue, hung to dry and sprayed with a clear coat to harden and protect them. It’s quite the process. It’s no wonder why often times women form beading circles, where they sit around and make bead after bead, together. The sense of community in African culture is to be envied. I think if we started beading circles here in the States, we could solve a lot of our problems.

Meaningful work empowers people and restores dignity. When we empower women especially, it can impact the lives of an entire family. Women typically invest more of their earnings into their families and communities than men. They’re able to provide food and school fees for their children; reducing the cycle of poverty and impacting families for generations.

These precious pieces were made by women in Masese, Uganda – one of the poorest communities just outside of Jinja. The women are part of the Amazima Beading Circle – you can learn more about them here.

Valentine’s Day is coming up! I’m not a big fan of this commercial holiday, but it seems like a great time to empower women halfway across the world while treating that lovely lady in your life to something special. Maybe that’s a partner, a friend, a sister or a mother – OR YOURSELF! Buy something pretty here and use your purchasing power for good! There are lots of different styles and colors to choose from. All proceeds go toward funding my next trip, where I hope to meet more artisans.

Loving our neighbors together,

Jana

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