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Bead for Life: Non-Profit Aiding Women in Uganda

July 29, 2009
Bead for Life Handmade Bag and Jewelry

Bead for Life Beads and Jewelry Bag

Last Christmas I received a beautiful gift from my mother: a handcrafted and richly-designed cobalt jewelry bag and a matching necklace strung with lacquered paper beads.  What a unique gift I thought to myself!  I am always excited about gifts with character, especially objects from other cultures that have a story.  Little did I know just how fascinating the tale of these beads made over 8,000 miles away, on a different continent, in a different culture, and in the of midst vastly different circumstances, would be.  As my mom began to tell me the story of the beads– how they are made by the hands of impoverished women in Uganda and distributed by an American non-profit in an effort to support grassroots projects for these women and their families– I became more and more enchanted.  Included with every purchase is a small pamphlet describing the American non-profit, Bead for Life, and the Ugandan women they aid through their sale of the beads.  Each item, whether necklace, bracelet, or earring, is unique in that is was made by an individual woman (or beader) who carefully cuts and rolls colored paper into the shape of the bead, varnishes the beads, selects matching glass beads, and strings them into a necklace. 

Many of the beaders are HIV+ mothers or refugees, all of whom have been living in extreme poverty.  In spite of their hardship, the beaders are resilient, hardworking and resourceful.

Bead for Life 013Perhaps most commendable about the Bead for Life organization is their effort to empower the beaders.  Bead for Life does not give hand-outs but instead allows the women to enrich their own lives through a mutual exchange. Many beaders have used their profits from beading not only to feed their family and get necessary medical care but also to build a home and begin their own businesses. 

Bead for Life 019blogAdditionally, what I find so amazing about Bead for Life is the accessibility to the average individual to partake in the effort through the purchase of items, hosting a Bead Party, or volunteering.  So many charitable organizations that rely on the sale of items to benefit a group exclude many who want to help through high prices.  However, Bead for Life’s items range from $5-$30 allowing most everyone to partake in the effort.  Other ways to help are by hosting a Bead Party or volunteering out the Bolder, CO and Uganda offices. 

Bead for Life 003blog2

To find out more about Bead for Life and the beaders in Uganda please visit their blog and follow them on Twitter @BeadforLife

Comments?  If you like Bead for Life or know of other worthy non-profits please show your support by sharing below!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2009 12:07 pm

    Hi Ashley –

    Thanks for mentioning BeadforLife in your blog and for your support. Thanks especially for the shout out for our blog!

    Good luck with your adventure in China. I love the story of how you “ended up” there!

    Patty Manwaring
    BeadforLife Education Program Manager

    • Ashley Bruckbauer permalink
      July 30, 2009 12:46 pm


      Thanks so much for your comment! It is my pleasure to feature Bead for Life! I think you guys are doing wonderful and inspiring work, and I am happy to help spread the word in any way possible.
      I am loving the new Bead for Life blog too! Great job!

      Best, Ashley

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