Art in the Park raises thousands for BeadforLife

It’s a cool, dark morning and the desert rain is falling swiftly as I sit on my rocking chair on my patio.  The smell of desert rain is so refreshing.  Satisfying, and awakening.  Summer has finally decided to depart from the valley, and this quiet storm is proof that fall has come to stay.  As I sip a cup of  dark roast hot coffee lightened slightly with fresh cream, in my pajamas, I recall the flash rain storms in Uganda towards the end of my visit this summer.   A certain hush fell over the city during the rain, as the tropical heat was replaced with cooler temps.  A welcome reprieve for farmers- nourishing the lush vegetation of the fertile land; a nuisance for the many living in mud homes or corrugated tin shelters dotted with openings just large enough to wreak havoc on the once dry interior.

Rain brings refreshment.  Renewal.  Reminders.

This weekend, my folks and I had the opportunity to share the story of BeadforLife with thousands of people attending the largest juried arts festival in the southwest, aptly named Art in the Park, as tents dot the green parks of downtown Boulder City like sheep in a pasture.  Our quaint 10x 10 foot white walled tent the perfect canvas for an African marketplace transformation!  It’s no coincidence that this is the same size of the average Ugandan home- reminding me of the relative nature of ” necessity”.

There is something magical about BeadforLife jewelry, and the spirit filling the space inside and around our tent.  Colorful,  hand made works of recycled paper art crafted by women so desperately seeking an end to their cycle of generational poverty provided our landscape for 48 hours.  I recalled lessons learned in Mutungo’s Street Business School about being resourceful and using available possessions- the most important being your own creativity.  I turned plastic buckets into stools, and tree branches from my front yard into decorative garland breathing life into our space.   I delighted in slip covering two ordinary folding chairs with brightly colored and characteristically patterned  dresses from Malawi donated by BeadforLife supporter and  friend Lynn.   Mom and I agreed we didn’t need to buy anything for our event and used items from home in creative ways, just like the enterprising women of Uganda.

We hung Annet’s palm branch mat ( her story from Bulogo women’s group a previous post) as a natural frame for Beamdforlife’s banner on the tent’s rear wall,  reminding us all that hard work and determination mixed with repeated measures of faith and discipline produce unimaginable results.

Thanks to the many first time visitors to BeadforLife as well as the friends and supporters who attended last year, we raised over $3,700 this weekend!  I’m grateful to my parents- both 70 years young, for helping me set up and account for all the sales!  This event is truly a blessing on many levels!

Every day 22,000 children around the world living in extreme poverty die of hunger.  Children grow up in homes and do not have access to education- including public schools for lack of school fees and basic supplies like shoes and pencils.   Orphans wander the streets and slums dreaming of a place to call home.   These are a few of the things I witnessed first hand while working in Uganda , and they remain the motivating realities which drive my advocacy.

Seven months ago, I joined a small committee to help BeadforLife  expand the Street Business School program.  This 6 month mobile classroom places entrepreneurial training and skills into the hands of the poorest, most vulnerable women in Uganda.   The goal is to replicate this training module worldwide- empowering 1 million women with the tools of self- sufficiency.   I believe in the promise of this program, and I support the program’s co-founder and leader- Devin Hibbard.

I invite you to join in the “Ignite One Million” campaign and consider the impact your donation will have on the lives of it’s participants.   You may donate directly at

One month from today on November 4th from 6-8 pm MJ Christensen diamonds will host its 6th annual Runway for Life event benefiting BeadforLife.  Come meet Devin- cofounder, and join us as we embrace the dream of Igniting One Million women worldwide out of extreme poverty.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes. ”

I have a young boy with autism at Art in the Park this weekend selling buttons to remind me of this fact.