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Project Love works with Ugandan organization to aid women in entrepreneurship

Mandy Kraynak, Staff Reporter

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Women from Uganda first cut recycled paper into small triangles. They then roll the tiny paper srips into beads of various colors and sizes. Next, the artisans apply sealant to the miniscule creations and hang them to dry. Finally, they assemble the beads into strands of vibrant jewelry by stringing the paper beads onto fish wire or elastic. These craftswomen transform scraps of paper into beautiful jewelry. Through an organization called BeadforLife, they use their skills to help transform the lives of other women in Uganda as well.

Revere students and Project Love members Shreya Datta and Lucy Zhang will lead a BeadforLife Marketplace fundraiser at the the high school, bringing the opportunity to help Ugandan women and reduce the cycle of poverty to the Revere community. Working with other Project Love members and adviser Susan Sanders, the two students will sell the homemade jewelry during lunch in late April or early May. Each bracelet will cost either six or ten dollars depending on its type. Project Love will sell the bracelets made by Ugandan women through an organization called BeadforLife. BeadforLife provides opportunities for women in Uganda to become businesswomen and entrepreneurs and thus fosters the reduction of poverty in this area.

Susan Sanders has served as Project Love’s adviser for three years. She explained why she would encourage students to purchase from the fundraiser.

“Really you are helping other people throughout the world try and improve their lives,” Sanders said.

Sierra Trujillo, a Customer Care Specialist and Project Maestro with BeadforLife stated the mission of the organization and how it BeadforLife benefits Ugandan women and reduces poverty in Uganda.

“We work to ignite potential in women around the world to lift themselves and their families out of poverty . . . . [BeadforLife does this] by teaching [women] business skills, entrepreneurial skills, that they can use to create their own businesses so that they have the tools to be successful—not only while they’re making beads, but throughout their lives” Trujillo said.

Trujillo also noted that BeadforLife helps the children of impoverished women receive an education because making beads provides the women with enough money to send their children to school.

Although a first-year member of Project Love, junior Datta served as the chairperson for Project Love’s BeadforLife Marketplace fundraiser. Datta described how BeadforLife teaches business skills to Ugandan women.

“[The jewelry] is made by women in Uganda who are budding entrepreneurs, and BeadforLife is all about helping women in poverty get the skills they need to become businesswomen and get themselves out of poverty,” Datta said.

Senior Zhang has participated in Project love for three years. Zhang has had a lot of experience with other efforts of Project Love, including the Cheyenne Nation blanket fundraiser that took place in the fall of this year and last year’s Pulsera fundraiser. Zhang’s experience may have helped her take on the challenge of leading the BeadforLife fundraiser. Zhang helped Datta with the many tasks involved with organizing the BeadforLife fundraiser. The two students had to decide what to buy and how much, and they plan to make posters and possibly show a video to advertise the fundraiser.

Zhang described the beads that Project Love will sell, emphasizing the intricate process that women in Uganda use to construct them.

“[The beads] are made of recycled paper. [They start out as] these long strips, and they roll together really small, and that way they’re really compacted. And they’re different colors,” Zhang said.

BeadforLife’s efforts to help women in Uganda become successful at business and entrepreneurship include a business school for women called Street Business School. Datta explained the purpose and set-up of this education center.

“They have a Street Business School. It’s a mobile classroom that trains women in the community. It helps them have their own businesses and helps them get out of the cycle of poverty,” Datta said.

Sanders commented on how the business school helps women in Uganda.

“It helps them because they have a school that they can attend to then teach them how to create their own businesses and become self-sufficient,” Sanders said.

BeadforLife also focuses on girls’ education. The organization provides scholarships to girls who cannot afford to attend secondary school after primary school but graduate in the top of their class. The BeadforLife website links the importance of the education of girls to the statistic that each added year of education boosts a girl’s future income by 15-25 percent.

BeadforLife’s homemade jewelry can serve as an eye-catching accessory, but the beads on the jewelry mean much more than that. They represent the opportunity for women and girls in Uganda to attain an education, business skills, and an escape from the cycle of poverty. What begins as small scrap pieces of recycled paper improves the lives of impoverished Ugandan women and their families.

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Project Love works with Ugandan organization to aid women in entrepreneurship