It’s not often that by wearing something beautiful, you help change the world. With the Roots Project’s beaded jewelry, you do just that.
We fell in love with the vivid colors and craftsmanship of the Roots Project’s pieces. For instance, take a look at the astonishing beadwork and primary colors of the Dinka corset. Hours of intricate work and centuries of culture go into a piece, each of which exemplifies a particular tribe’s style.
But it was the Roots Project’s mission that really got us. As co-founder Pam McKulka says, “We wanted to accomplish three things: empower the women of South Sudan; preserve their culture; and bring tribes together.”
Although South Sudan is only about the size of Texas, it’s home to more than 60 indigenous ethnic groups and many more tribes and clans. In the past five years alone, political conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and left the country on the brink of famine.
South Sudanese human rights activist Anyieth D’Awol was working for the United Nations when she envisioned a new way of helping the country. She founded the Roots Project, a nonprofit organization, in 2009. In the Roots Project, 115 women representing 24 tribes work side by side at the Project’s center in Juba. Another 30 women take part in the Project in nearby United Nations camps for people displaced by the war.
The Project provides beads, a safe place to work, healthy meals, childcare, and literacy and math classes (98% of South Sudan’s women can’t read). The women learn the dying art of bead design, and they build relationships with other women from historically opposing tribes. Plus, they make money—each woman’s earnings typically supports between 6 and 10 family members.
And did we tell you how gorgeous each piece is? We’re fortunate to have about a dozen Roots Project pieces for sale, so don’t just take our word for it, come and see for yourself.
For more information on the Roots Project, visit their website or look for The Roots Project on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.