Beaded Hope News

Ndebele Jewelry Sale!

February 22nd, 2012

To the women of the Ndebele (pronounced in-da-bey-lee) tribe beadwork is not only an art form; it is an essential part of their cultural. Beadwork is used to mark important events in family life, from the birth of a child, to initiation into adulthood, to marriage, to burial. Passed from one generation of women to the next, the skill required to create traditional beaded adornment is quite difficult to imagine.

For the month of February we offer you the chance to connect with the generations of women of the Ndebele tribe in South Africa. Just this month, all Ndebele bracelets and necklaces are offered at a 30% discount. So, between now and February 29th, shop for your favorite piece and then try to image just how many beads it took make that piece of art.

Sneak Peak

October 18th, 2011

A sneak peak into the new jewelry line that will be arriving soon…check it out!

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Karakatana: Behind the Names

August 22nd, 2011

When it comes time to name the Beaded Hope jewelry, we like to maintain the authenticity by having the artists themselves christen each piece. But the last workshop we had, in April, was so busy with instructing and creating, that the naming process was buried.

But thankfully, we did ask original beading artist Betty to name one of her bracelets. She toyed with its beads for a moment, and said she’d think about it.

The next workshop, Betty held up the piece: “Izimbasa.” The word rolled off her native South African tongue like a precious-kept secret. “In Zulu, it means star.”

Back in the states, Jennifer and I sat down and realized we had a ton of jewelry, but only one name. As we tinkered with the individual pieces and shot out possibilities, pieces of nature we’d seen in South Africa kept floating to our minds: the sunset, the dirt, the colors. And then we had Izimbasa. Why not make it a theme? The external beauty of South Africa, represented by jewelry crafted out of the internal beauty of its people.

Betty didn’t mean to inspire the names of the whole line, but that’s just what she did. As Jennifer and I sat and drank our South African Five Roses tea and tossed around our mental images of Africa, we remembered Betty’s laugh and nestled in the nostalgia.

Karakatana: The Beginning

August 8th, 2011

It all begins here. This simple strand of beads began as a tradition in South Africa. Mothers would string these beads together and give them to their teething children to chew on to ease their discomfort. Those old necklaces were the teething rings of tribal Africa. And when the ladies of Beaded Hope told us about this tradition, the vision for a whole new line of Beaded Hope products was born.

The beads are called Tandkraal, which literally means “tooth compound” in Afrikaans. When the native South Africans tried the word out, they couldn’t quite get it and opted for calling the beads Karakatana instead. The beads have been smoothed and finished to enhance their natural beauty and come in colors of grays, creams and browns.

Finding the beads, proved another challenge. We navigated our way through the local market, without running around in too many circles thanks to our guide, Mighty, and eventually found the strands in a shop selling vuvuzelas, scarves and dish towels. Those basic strands already proved to be versatile and beautiful. We had no idea what would happen when the Beaded Hope ladies got their hands and creativity on the Karakatana.

Once they started working on the Karakatana designs, individual quirks and stories spilled out and into the jewelry itself. But it all began here, with one simple strand.

Bless this Home

May 8th, 2011

While in South Africa last month I stumbled across a book entitled Wisdom from Africa, A collection of proverbs by Dianne Stewart. Right up my alley. I grabbed the book with barely a second look and packed it safely in my suitcase to bring home and savor later.

Last night, feeling a little melancholy and missing South Africa, I opened the book. Words of wisdom from all over Africa poured out, bringing a smile to my face, and made me feel like I was dipping my toes back in the sea of the continent of my soul.

Periodically, I’m certain, I will pull this book out and share a new bit of wisdom with you. Some from South Africa, some from neighboring countries, all worth sharing. Today, with “home” on my mind, I share this proverb from the Zulu tribe of South Africa.

Umuzi ngumuzi ngokuphanjukelwa.

Translation: A home is a home if it is visited.

Meaning (according to the author): People will not visit a home where hospitality is not offered. This proverb encourages kindness even to strangers, so that one’s home will be visited often.

My interpretation: Open the doors of your home and welcome everyone. Offer them tea, offer them wine, offer them love.

My wish for you; may your heart and home always be welcoming to all who visit.

bless this home in Mamelodi

p.s. Have a love for African fables too? You can get your own copy of Dianne Stewart’s book on Amazon.

4/21/11 Thoughts from Connor

April 28th, 2011

Today we did a 3rd workshop. While the ladies did beadwork I walked around the VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing centre) with Paul, one of the orphans, and while we were walking he told me his story about his life.

It started when I asked if he was mad/sad. He answered that he gets teased at school.

I asked why. Paul said “it’s because I have white parents.” (Paul’s adopted).

After that we walked in silence for about 10 minutes. Then Paul gave me a tour of all of the VCT and told me a story about wood working and welding at his high school.

He is 14 years old and smaller than me. He is also positive.

Best part of the day: listening to Paul’s story.

4/20/11 Thoughts from Connor

April 23rd, 2011

Today we did home visits to 5 people. We gave them food parcels with maize, tea, powdered milk, soap bars, clothes cleaning soap, peanut butter, sugar, vegetable oil and toilet paper. We also prayed over them.

It was a different experience than what we would have at home, but it was a good experience. The first and most memorable house was Bongani’s house. His mom died of AIDS and he is also positive. He has been getting strokes, so the doctors put him in a wheel chair. He is 14 years old, but because of AIDS and strokes he only looks like he is 9 years old. We had a very long prayer over him. What we are hoping is that he gets back in school before May 1st, and that he gets out of the wheel chair very soon.

Best part of the day: delivering food parcels.

4/19/11 Thoughts from Connor

April 23rd, 2011

Today we had a second workshop with the ladies of Beaded Hope.

I think that we are going to have a Beaded Hope release called “The Tandkraal Release.” Tandkraal means “tooth bead” because babies used to chew on them when they were teething.

Once we got back to the hotel we went on another safari, but it was only 1 hour long. We saw: giraffes, Bengal tigers, springbok, impala, white tigers, lions, spotted hyenas, and striped hyenas. It was awesome.

Fact of the day: did you know that striped hyenas have a bite force of 2.5 tons?!?

The Down Side of South Africa

April 22nd, 2011

Being in South Africa has its ups and down. Last night Connor was taken down.

Tonight was Amanda’s turn.

Not so dry, my eyes. Not so dry.

April 21st, 2011


A couple days ago, Jennifer went with Mama Peggy to pick up a bunch of food and supplies: mince, corn maize meal, tea, powdered milk, cooking oil, toilet paper and soap were some of the items.

Yesterday, Connor and I sorted all of that stuff into ten bags: food in one bag, supplies in another.  Each food/supply pair made one parcel. Five parcels in all.

This morning, we drove around the township to deliver those five parcels to five different homes.

It began with Bongani:

This is Bongani a couple months ago. Quite the stud. That picture dates late 2010-2011. Things change.

Bongani’s mum had HIV, and passed on, as they say in Africa. So he now lives with his grandmother–a strong-jawed, red-eyed little woman. Determined and beautiful. Bongani is the smiliest kid, sweet in every mannerism. And his favorite thing is playing football (soccer). He’s 14 now. But as an HIV-positive kid, he looks barely 8.

We only got to see Bongani because he hasn’t been able to go to school for a while. He has had strokes–the 14-year-old child has had strokes–because of the HIV. These strokes have left him in a wheelchair… for now. Patricia, who runs the hospice, was with us, daring him to be walking around next week. He just smiled and said ok. And before we left, we all circled up around the table of food and supplies. Patricia lead us in an African hymn and we began to pray. I held onto his tiny hand so tightly. and as his hand curled around mine, I just knew that I would never completely leave that grasp; that some bit of me paused, separated and wrapped itself around that moment.

It began with Bongani. But that was my Africa moment. Everything is different from here on out.

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