Paper to Pearls

Paper to Pearls was the unexpected outcome of a trip that Voices for Global Change president Barbara Moller made to Northern Uganda in the fall of 2005. Barbara went as one of a team of trainers on a U.S. State Department project to create a coalition of local municipal officials and civil society leaders that would lobby and advocate nationally and internationally on behalf of the region.

Joyce Laker, one of the participants in the training, invited Barbara to visit two disabled persons camps where she had started a small beading project. Utilizing a grant she had obtained from CARE International, Joyce had recently brought a trainer from Kampala, the Ugandan capital, to train women in the two camps in how to make necklaces from recycled paper. She thought that sales of necklaces on the streets of Gulu, the local town, would be a way to help the women. The money wouldn’t be much, but it would be something.

Barbara, however saw it differently. What she saw was an opportunity to provide significant income for the women if she could create a market for their work. Two months later Paper to Pearls was born. Although starting with no experience in micro-enterprise or retail sales, Barbara saw the Chance-to help give a “voice” to those who have traditionally been silent. By helping lift desperately marginalized women out of poverty, it would give them a voice in their future and the future of their families and communities.

What started with 40 women between the two camps has grown to include 100 women in four camps and two cooperatives in Gulu. With the income they are earning, they are not only transforming their lives but also gaining pride, dignity and hope for the future.

Since 2006, the Paper to Pearl artisans have continued to create beautiful recycled paper beads that are rich in color saturation and finished with an eco-friendly water based lacquer which sets “Paper to Pearl” beads apart from other paper beads.

***As with all finishes, paper beads are water-resistant not water proof. Please take care not to get the beads too wet in order to maintain the integrity of the beads.