Monday, February 16, 2009

bead party

It's just a little bit daunting when sitting Monday morning at 7am, thinking about your week ahead, you cannot seem to pinpoint a single free moment in the next 7 days...

So that being said, I don't have a ton of time, but I did really want to share a bit about the Bead for Life stuff I'm so excited about doing this week.

Bead For Life is an organization in Kampala, Uganda, whose goal is to eradicate poverty through creative means. Instead of just accepting donations, they empower their Ugandan women (who have been through situations I cannot imagine) to create beads from recycled paper: old calendars, magazine pages, and even cereal boxes. These beads, in brilliant colors of reds, oranges, pinks, blues, greens, purples and more, become necklaces (long, short, flat, woven or circular), bracelets and beaded jewelry bags.
The profits they receive from selling their jewelry go toward their own community projects and six other organizations in Uganda.

The stories of some of these women who are a part of Bead for Life are amazing. You just can't even begin to fathom some of the lives the young women living in that part of our world have lived. Not to mention the older women... a thousand times so. War crime victims (read: raped for years), some who have -or who's whole family has- HIV, families living in poverty (the average person in Uganda lives on less than $300 a year) and just in general being so unsure of what the future holds. With the money they earn they buy food, pay rent, pay for medicine, send their kids to school and build themselves a better life. And the jewelry is gorgeous! I wore a 5-strand necklace of mulit-colored beads to church yesterday and I got so many compliments on it. That is one of the best parts of this I think... not only am I buying jewelry that benefits these Ugandan women, but every time I wear the jewelry, and undoubtedly get comments/questions about it, it's an opportunity to share about this great group of Ugandan women.
Recycling, encouraging women's sustainable development and beautiful jewelry all rolled into one package. Can't get much better than that!

You can buy Bead for Life items directly from the online store or host an event or party for neighbors, friends or your church, which is what I'm doing this week. I'm having two separate open houses (two different days just for more opportunity for people to be able to make it) here at my home. I simply filled in a form on the Bead for Life website and signed up to host a party. Bead for Life takes care of everything; you tell them the approximate size of your party(ies) and they send you everything you need. I printed out an informational invitation sheet and handed it out to pretty much everyone I know... at church, at the kids schools, my MOPS group, friends in the neighborhood, etc. I also sent out an email invitation (that Bead for Life already has set up) for friends across town, or that I don't see regularly.
I got my box of things from Bead for Life early last week and was in awe going through everything. This stuff is truly amazing and it makes it all the more incredible thinking about where it all came from and why. Thinking about the hands of the women who's hands have created these beads, where they've been and what they've been through. And the work they're doing to make a better life for their children and those around them.

I am so looking forward to sharing all of this with the friends around me. I have a couple of people who are just coming over on a random afternoon to look through this pile of stuff because they can't make it to one of the parties. And another friend who just wants me to pick out a handful of stuff for her. That makes me happy.
The only frustrating thing I've come across in all this, is that when I've invited people, saying I'm having a "Bead Party", many many people jump to the conclusion that I'm having a "party" like other sell-from-home "parties"; Pampered Chef, Home Interiors, Arbonne, Creative Memories, candles or other jewelry parties. I've had a really hard time getting people to understand I'M NOT SELLING ANYTHING. Seriously, they get this look on their face that just tunes out 'another chance for her to sell her goods'. I've had to try and make an effort to invite people personally, so I can point out and explain to them that this is all about Bead for Life... that it all goes back to them, that I'm not selling this jewelry for me. I make nothing from this, it profits me in no way. I simply signed up to get a shipment from them, trying to help them get the word out and the jewelry bought up, and whatever I have at the end; money and remaining jewelry, gets wrapped up and shipped straight back to them. It's as simple as that. I'm just a resource... it's a good cause, it's here at my house, you don't have to pay for any shipping like you would ordering through their website, and I'm hoping with our combined efforts, we can make a small difference in the lives of these women on the other side of the world.

Anyway. That's the story.
I'll report back after the parties this week!
If you're a St Louis area blog stalker :), or someone I know and somehow left you off my invite list, let me know if you're interested in stopping by.
If you're interested in hosting your own party or you have an event that would work well to involve Bead for Life, you can get more info at their website,
eta: bead party afterthoughts here.


Anonymous said...

Hey, this is Lance H. I'm a coworker of Ryan's. I just got back from a 6-month Fellowship in Kampala. Beads 4 Life is definitely a worth while cause. I've met several woman who have benefited from this group. I actually bought a bunch of beads while I was in Uganda to bring home as gifts for my family. They enjoyed them very much!

my3buckaroos said...

This is such an awesome idea, Heather! Thanks for the info. I think a bead party is just what I need!

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