BeadforLife is a model for empowering Africans, finding solutions to poverty, and joining with people around the world who want to make a difference. Since 2004, BeadforLife has provided sustainable income for Ugandan women and their families by selling their beautiful jewelry, handmade from recycled paper. The women are HIV+ mothers, refugees from a brutal civil war, former prostitutes and other impoverished people.
Before joining BeadforLife, all of the members struggled to get by on less than $1 a day. Thousands of people have responded to this innovative project and opened their hearts, homes, and communities to these determined women. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide partner with the beaders and share the BeadforLife spirit by wearing the vibrant jewelry, and talking to others about how to end extreme poverty. The average beader now makes more than $2000 a year during their membership – five to seven times more than they made before.
BeadforLife acts as a ladder out of poverty, providing women not only with income, but entrepreneurial training, business funding, health programs, and the chance for women to build a home of their own. With great ingenuity, beaders have started small ventures such as a poultry business, or a vegetable stall. The beaders, directly and indirectly, support over 4000 other people, who enjoy better health, housing and education.
BeadforLife invests in human potential, and the dividends are impressive:
_ 99% of members say that their lives have improved since joining BeadforLife
_ Over 90% of respondents report their health, housing and diet has improved
_ 85% of graduates either opened a business or built a home; 42% did both
_ Members sharing a latrine with 10 or more families went from 50% to 6%.
With its vision of a long-term, sustainable community, BFL invests its profits back into community projects that fight extreme poverty in the areas of health, affordable housing, and vocational training/entrepreneurial development.
BeadforLife investments have resulted in the following gains:
_ Over 110 families have or will build a new home on land purchased by BFL
_ More than 150 children have been tested for HIV
_ 100 students are enrolled in vocational training programs
_ 250 beaders have received business training to help them build other income streams
_ 98% of the members have opened savings accounts
_ Beaders and their families have access to testing and treatment for malaria and have received insecticide treated bed nets to prevent the disease
_ BeadforLife funding has benefited more than 28,000 other impoverished Ugandans
BeadforLife engages citizens in fighting extreme poverty:
_ Over 3500 Bead Parties have been held in N. America, Europe and worldwide, to share the beads and stories of the women in Uganda, and to educate people about extreme poverty.
_ 79% of BeadParty hosts said they were likely to take another action against poverty.
_ Over 200,000 people around the world have participated in the BeadCircle through Bead Parties, events, or by wearing beautiful beaded jewelry that are a symbol of connection and hope. For more information http://www.beadforlife.org/
Photo credit: Charles Steinberg for all Bead for Life photos
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