Just One Africa- Changing The World, One Bead At A Time.
In the beginning Just One Africa partnered with just 10 Masai Mamas who live in southern Kenya with a direct impact to 68 precious children and young adults. Some of the children are their own and others they have taken in as they were orphaned. The women call themselves the Masai Women of Faith. Four of the women are widowed and are the sole providers. We have worked with this women group for 6 years and have built relationships with them as we have visited their homes, been introduced to their families, heard of their pain and challenge as well as their overcoming, their joy in community, dance, singing, and a cup of chai in the shade of a acacia tree. We have all found deep purpose and significance from our partnership which has brought us really together more as a family.
The sustainable income has been a tremendous blessing resulting in the mama’s ability to educate ALL of their children which is not common at all in the Masai culture especially when it comes to girls. The opportunities this group experience is far beyond just physical income. By coming together on a regular basis our partner Dorcus is able to work with them and speak to issues like girl child education, FGM and alternative rites of passage, child abuse and mistreatment, women's health, and of course the gospel for this is the only way true transformation comes. Providing a safe place for them to share their heart and use their voice is so important as they learn how to stand up for injustice when they see it even in their own village.
They have come to understand that a women’s voice is needed, important, and brings an important perspective the community needs in order to be healthy and flourish. From the inside out these women are being transformed, renewed, equipped and empowered to provide for their families, and incredible hopes fills their lives. Many of them have grown in their boldness and courage and are now leaders in their church, community, and government programs helping tie things happening in the field to those who have the authority to make needed changes happen.
Our process starts by purchase hundreds of recycled paper bead necklaces from the mamas up front at a price they set, so they can sustain their families and pay school fees. These funds are a lifeline especially when drought is bad, crops are failing and food shortages abound. They join together forming "lady banks" creating a savings plan making it possible to have even more funds to improve their businesses and cover emergencies.
We bring the necklaces back to the states and partner with local schools, facilitate team building events with corporations and work with volunteer organizations to string the beads into bracelets and ornaments. We have clubs on a dozen middle and high school campuses called 'I am One' and once a month they string the beads providing Just One Africa with the help needed to create the world-changing products.
This allows us to pass on 100% of the funds back to our Clean Water and Sustainability Programs in Kenya. Allowing the next generation to be a part of giving back and seeing they too have something to offer is a powerful experience teaching them they were created with all they need to make a difference in their world JUST ONE person at a time.
The sales of the products are used to purchase life-saving water filters that are distributed in Kenya to areas that have access to water and are experiencing high rates of water borne disease. Our distributions are full of empowering education, community engagement, and a reaching out to those who often find themselves in vulnerable situations. Our follow-up data shows the water filter is dramatically reducing water borne disease by 96%! This is resulting in children back in school and parents able to go back to work providing what is needed for their families! The filters are distributed in areas our partners work deepening the relationships in the communities they seek to serve. Important bridges are created through the gift of clean water and all the hope and health benefits that come! This results in open hearts and minds to receive input on educating and protecting girls, the harmful practice of FGM and early marriage, and trafficking. These are critical issues our partners are very proactive in and are already working on but the water filter provides even greater openness within these communities to build even deeper relationships.
Each bracelet or necklace provides 200,000 gallons of clean water and sustainable income for Masai mamas and their families bringing hope, tangible life change, and significant opportunities to see lives forever changed in the best ways.
The first time we came back the mamas called me family and invited me to stay in their homes anytime I come to Kenya. They said so often people come and take pictures and say they will help but they never do. But when we came the first time, we were sure to return and have continued to come back over and over and over again. I have celebrated the birth of new babies, built traditional Masai huts with them, walked for miles into the bush to do follow up, and sat in the heat of the day under an acaia tree watching in amazement at the creativity in the pieces they create by hand as their children play nearby shyly smiling at me.
There is plenty of opportunity for more lives to be changed through the empowerment project we call Beads for Water and we thank you for considering Just One Africa and the Masai Women of Faith for your gift buying and shopping needs! Changing the world can be extra beautiful and full of purpose when you know the ones who made the items you wear and the direct impact you created by shopping for good.