Kazuri means small and beautiful in Swahili and that perfectly describes the lovely beads coming out of the workshop just outside Nairobi in the very same spot that Karen "Out of Africa" Blixen once lived. It got its start over 30 years ago.
Some 300 women and men make the beads that are now sold worldwide. They are paid fair wages. The unemployment is so high each of these lucky artisans typically support an extended family of 20 or so members.
This video shows the Kazuri Bead Factory.
Paulette Walthier tipped me off that KazuriWest is now distributing the beautiful polymer bead creations of Samunnat, a non-profit organization which helps Nepalese women escape domestic violence and human trafficking. Domestic violence is ugly but is particularly brutal in societies where women are not valued. These women are often uneducated with few options to escape let alone earn a decent living.
It is important to note that fewer women in severely gender imbalanced Asian countries such as India and China do not necessarily make women worthier. Instead, it is increasingly leading to more rape and violence against them, forced prostitution and human trafficking - young women and girls sold by poor families to the highest bidder.
Samunnat began when a group of selfless friends including Australian artist and therapist Wendy Moore and Nepalese attorney Kopila Basnet decided to help these desperate women who had no one to turn to. With Samunnat, women are thus able to support themselves and their children with beautiful beads they make and sell. As Wendy says, "art becomes income, education , food, medicine, and hope for a brighter future."
Both Kazuri and Samunnat beads will be available for sale at the upcoming Tucson Bead Show. (Small and Beautiful Beads - booth at "Tucson 22nd Street Show", January 31st-February 17th, Antelope Beads at “To Bead True Blue,” located at the Doubletree Tucson Reid Park, February 3rd-8th).
Can't get to the Tucson show this year? Samunnat (finished jewelry)are also available through their Etsy Store. KazuriWest will soon have the loose beads on their website.
Canadians can purchase Kazuri beads through Karibu Beads. US readers should check out the various distributors on Kazuri Beads USA. There are also Kazuri distributors in other countries like the UK and Australia. Just google it!
- China faces growing gender imbalance
- Trafficking of young girls in India a growing problem amid gender imbalance
- The Denver Refugee Women's Craft Initiative
- Fair Trade Jewelry Artisans : The Bombulu Workshop
- Mzuri Beads : Uganda's Handmade Recycled Paper Beads
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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