Beads to Business Graduate
Kampala, Uganda

By Irene Namaganda

Rose is a charming and vibrant woman and a graduate of Kataza Group, the third ever in BeadforLife history. A mother of four, she met BeadforLife in 2005 a few years after her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. Upon meeting co-founder Torkin Wakefield, Rose began her story, “You know I fell in love with Paul, my husband, when I was 15. We were only with each other. After we married we had three children- all girls. One Valentine's Day he told me if he were a rich man he would get me a house, but since he was a poor man he could only give me a red rose. It was wrapped in a beautiful shiny paper. I had never been given a rose from a store…I still have the red dust of that rose."

After her husband’s untimely death, Rose struggled to support her family. “I was left with no money, no home, and no way to feed the children. I spent days walking the streets looking down at the ground hoping I would find a stray coin that might somehow have dropped. I looked in garbage cans for scraps. We were all starving. For two years I was desperate to feed my family. My own health was failing. I was having headaches and skin rashes. When I felt really bad I would beg one aspirin and carefully grind it up into powder and put my tongue gently on it so that I would take just a little to ease the pain. That way the one aspirin would last me several days, maybe a week."

Rose soon found out that she was HIV positive. Despite this difficult news, her diagnosis also opened up new opportunities and Rose worked hard to stay healthy. She received emergency food the day she took the HIV/AIDS test and was able to feed her family a real meal for the first time in two years. She became a community worker, educating people about prevention and helping others who are living with HIV or AIDS. She even took in a child orphaned by AIDS. It was hard to believe that a woman who had suffered so much, who lived in poverty, in a shack without electricity or running water, without a spare dime, and four children of her own, had found the generosity of spirit to adopt a child in need.  But Rose’s inner light just always seems to shine through.

While things were a bit better for Rose and her family, she wanted to be able to provide more for her family. When Torkin met her, Rose was earning $8/month and she and her children were dependent on donated food. They were living in a one-room wooden house with rusty iron sheets. “The space between the timber in the wall was so big that a baby could go through,” explained Rose. When it rained, their few belongings got wet. Joining BeadforLife not only provided Rose and her family with an opportunity for a better future, but it also gave her a new source of love and hope. She could not believe the amount of money she made in her first sale—twice her previous monthly income. “I cried after selling my beads,” says Rose. “I had never received that kind of money at one time before.”

Rose has taken giant steps since graduating from BeadforLife’s Beads to Business Program and has been busy spreading the love to those around her. With her bead savings, she was able buy her own home, put all of her children through secondary school and start a 30 member women’s crafting group. Her crafting group’s innovative designs still use recycled paper beads and allow even more women to earn a living. Just like Rose, the women in her group are now able to care for their families with the income they receive from selling crafts. Not only has she maintained good health, found success in her work and provided for her family, but Rose has helped transform the lives of  hundreds of other people.

“I cried tears after selling my beads." – Rose