Small & Beautiful

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Hour after hour, we sort myriad and brilliant colors and shapes, enthralled. Each bead formed and glazed by the touch of a hand. Each one, a world unto itself.

Debbie, my business partner, entering the workshop wing of KazuriA bell rings and a voice calls for tea. Stunned, we look up at each other. Tea-time in Kenya is served in late afternoon.

“What time is it?!” One of us asks in shock.

It is indeed, four o’clock. Six hours came and went. We forgot to eat, drink or note the passing of time.

Debbie and I, sorting through loose beads and hand-picking our favorites for Pamba Toto creationsBack in the storage room where we hunt through bin after bin of loose beads, we hear the clanging of dishes and then lilting voices harmonizing acapella: women worshiping, the sound of hope rising.

Kazuri (which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili), a fair-trade organization, was founded in 1975 to provide employment for disadvantaged women. Now, each day over 300 single mothers emerge from Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera, and make their way to the workshop. They earn a fair wage, receive medical care, and create beautiful ceramic beads and other products.

Kazuri workshop

Soon after tea-time, we gather up our treasures and happily call it a day.

Now, back in the US, as I sort through our beads and design earrings, I hold the delight of that day in my mind. I ponder the artisans who formed and glazed each bead. In the global scale and the span of history, each woman who touched each bead is so very small. The women who will wear the earrings I make are so very small. I am so very small.

Yet I imagine the Creator, looking out over the myriad and brilliant colors and shapes of His Creation, utterly enthralled. Each one so small, and yet so fiercely beautiful.

Pamba Toto’s mission is transformation of lives from Kenyan slums. We purchase from artisans living in the slums with holistic concern for their development and well-being. We donate our profits to Hope’s Promise for Sanctuary of Hope, which provides family-based care for orphans from Mathare Valley, Nairobi’s second-largest slum.

Please visit our store to view our full Kazuri bead earring inventory. A sampling below:

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