Today, while randomly following my nose down down the rabbit hole into the Wonderland of the internet, I came across a site that moved me deeply. It is for an organization called Bead for Life; now, normally I skip right away from anything containing "for life" in its title, fearing either an anti-choice organization, some rabid fundamentalist religious cult, or yet another site infested with the dreaded symbolic pink ribbons and sappy phrases meant to sustain hope in those fighting breast cancer. No disrespect to any of the above, most particularly to the breast cancer awareness people, whose work I respect highly and whose services I earnestly hope I never have to call upon - it just seems to me that something with more "oomph" than is conveyed by watery pink ribbons and little plucky words written in a flowing yet somehow unconvincing script on a banner held by bluebirds or bunnies is needed for the cause.
Anyway, back to my new discovery: http://www.beadforlife.org/. This is a group of women in Uganda who are working together to try to improve their extremely difficult lives through making & selling paper beads. The beads are colorful and beautiful - also very light weight, which is an important consideration for those of us with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions, for whom most jewelry is too heavy to wear - but, perhaps even more important, the struggle is so great and the stakes are so high, and this is one way to provide a tiny bit of help. When you learn that all of the beaders and tailors (all women) in the cooperative are supporting themselves and their families on less than $2 a day, and that 93% of money raised goes directly to the women for their families, and you think about how far the $15 or whatever you decide to spend on their products can go in this nation struggling under the three curses of poverty, illness, and war, I don't see how you can fail to want to help - and do a little Christmas shopping at the same time!
Please, please, take a look at the website: http://www.beadforlife.org/! As an artist, a craftsperson, a woman, or a human being living in the comfort and relative wealth of the so-called "first-world nations", I don't see how we can ignore our sisters struggling against such huge odds just to survive and raise, educate, and feed their children. Please read the information on the site - I can't explain it as well as they do, but I know that if you visit it and read the stories of the individual beaders as well as their community development plans (they are building a whole Bead for Life village, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity!), you can't help but be moved to help in any way you can.