The Story of Paper Bead Works- Beading in Gulu, Uganda

In 2008, Paper Bead Works met with the Lacan Kwite group of beaders in Gulu, northern Uganda.  This meeting was the start of a small initiative to sell the members' paper bead necklaces in Canada.  The jewellery continues to be sold under the name "KWITE essential Beads.

The beading group first came together in an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camp in Gulu.  Along with thousands of others, they were forced into camps as a result of the menace of Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord`s Resisitance Army).  Driven by the need to earn money to send their children to school and to enhance the quality of life in the camps, a group, comprised mostly of women, formed the Lacan Kwite beading group.  In Acholi, Lacan Kwite means `struggle out of poverty`.

The beads used in this jewellery are handmade from recycled paper or cloth bought in the local market.  

Beverley Smith, a renowned Canadian jewellery designer has worked with the group in Uganda to provide skills training on jewellery making techniques and design.  This training has helped the Lacan Kwite members enhance their unique and beautiful jewellery.

Paper Bead Works is committed to ensuring that the money earned through the sale of the jewellery will directly improve their livelihoods.  The money is returned to the group by purchasing their jewellery and through the delivery of high quality schooling and healthcare programmes.  These activities are administered by AVSI, an organization  that has been working for decades in this region. 

By supporting schooling and skills training programmes in this troubled area, Paper Bead Works is showing its commitment to community development and is ensuring that every member of the Lacan Kwite beading group has the opportunity to achieve a personal goal of `struggling out of poverty`.

Your purchase of their signature KWITE essential Bead jewellery will directly help to change the lives of these hard working artisans.

Making Beads out of Recycled Paper

 The paper  used in making paper beads comes from left over  advertising flyers and calendars that would normally have been thrown out. The beaders choose paper that has the colours that they want in the finished beads. Often there are printed words visible in the finished paper bead, adding a unique effect.

The advertising flyers are cut into long triangular strips and the paper is tightly rolled around a small stick to create a hole for threading.  Glue is then applied at the pointed end. It is important that each bead is tightly rolled to ensure a quality product. The beads are then strung on a string and dipped in sealant  made specially for sealing paper beads. It is low odour and eco friendly.

After a several staged process of sealing and drying the beads which takes about a week, the beads are restrung to make a variety of PaperBeadWorks products. . 

 Before being shipped to Canada, every product is inspected for defects by a small handpicked group of skilled beaders within the Lacan Kwite. 

If a product is not up to standards, the whole product is remade. The men and women are proud of their work, and are committed to making beautiful and original designs.