Beads of Hope from Africa
Beads of Hope Africa is a fair trade, for-benefit company designed to provide solutions for women in poverty in Uganda that have been displaced by internal civil war, AIDS, and other hardships. They have a fair trade cooperative that sells handmade paper bead necklaces, bracelets, and handmade crafts, giving the women economic opportunity through fair trade jobs and income. In addition, their goal is to end poverty in the long term by providing scholarships to orphans displaced by internal civil war, AIDS, and disease so that they may have a brighter future.
These beads are made from recycled eco products. Each one is made from colored recycled paper and can take up to nine days to create. The process involves cutting the colored paper strip, winding it around a dowel to form a bead, gluing it, stringing on a temporary strand, dipping it in polyurethane to seal it and create the shiny finish, hanging to dry for three days, dipping again, drying three more days, dipping a third time and drying a final three days. Obviously, this requires a lot of time and patience!
All of the beads are made by adults, working of free choice, and self-governed by the cooperative of which they are members. The women are mostly AIDS widows, and those affected by the internal civil war in Uganda. Prior to making the beads, they were making about $1.50 per day breaking rocks into gravel for a living. Now, through direct fair trade, they are elevated from poverty and make between $250 and $300 a month, which is considered a living wage by their local standards. Additionally, Beads of Hope uses part of their profits to benefit a second and separate group; teen orphans who receive educational scholarships to provide a sustainable career based on education.
Here's a picture of some of the women in Uganda involved in Beads of Hope Africa. In the center is Michelle, who runs the company and helps arrange for transport of the beads to the U.S. where they are sold.