See these two little guys shooting the breeze? The elephant to the left and the zebra to the right are actually made up of tiny beads. They both measure about 1.5 inches tall and long and are oh-so-adorable and will look great on a Christmas tree or just as a conversation piece at your desk.
This is just a sampling of what you’ll find at BeadWORKS Kenya, a venture of Northern Rangelands Trust. Click to their catalog and you’ll find bead jewelry, boxes, bracelets, napkin rings, keychains, necklaces, coasters, and much more. Each of them are handcrafted by women in Kenya. Specifically, 1,000 women in five community-led conservancies who would otherwise have no source of income use their traditional skills to make these wonderful beaded handicrafts.
BeadWORKS helps them out by finding places for them to sell their products, as well as training them and helping to coordinate things like product development, basic financial skills, and leadership and entrepreneurial skills. As a result these women earn a sustainable income that they use to send their children to school, pay medical bills, and buy essentials like clothes and food.
Community conservation is a growing phenomenon in Africa, including Northern Kenya where BeadWORKS and Northern Rangelands Trust is located. Put simply, community conservation is when private citizens in an area get together and decide that they’re going to work together to protect their own land and wildlife from things like poor land management and poaching. Protecting creation has wide-ranging benefits. results in improved security for the whole community, wiser management of land, and income and employment through supporting community projects.
So native wildlife like elephants are protected. How? First, these regions of the world have traditionally relied 100% on lifestock for their income, which expanding grazing land and dealing with situations where wildlife would encroach on that land. By providing alternate sources of income, land expansion could be controlled and wildlife protected. In many cases this opens up a whole new world for eco-tourism where ironically the same animals that used to be killed and poached because they were a threat to income now bring in more income just by saying alive.
Statistics have proven that once alternate sources of income and community conservation are introduced to a region, poaching becomes a lot more scarce. And you can start doing your part by getting these adorable Christmas ornaments or some of the dazzling jewelry that not only make great gifts but can change lives for humans and elephants alike,