At one time the Maasai of northern Tanzania could survive on traditions and practices revolving around their livestock. Now education, health issues, population growth, land restrictions, and drought are all leading to dramatic changes in a once nomadic society. Cows and goats are no longer enough to sustain families in their harsh environment. The Maasai are being forced to diversify and look for other means of survival.
Naapok bead project of Ketumbeine provide a means for 55 women to receive a small regular income. Their struggle with extreme poverty and neglect has been alleviated by a chance to make and sell beadwork. The work is based on an art form their people have long valued. Each piece is done by hand with locally available glass beads, wire, and recycled plastic.
Each month the women carefully put some of their income aside. This becomes available as microloans to each member on a rotating basis. The loans are vital in making possible the purchase of goats and cows, helping to fund important family ceremonies, paying for children’s education, etc.
Most of the women in this project are illiterate. The change in their lives has been remarkable. They are no longer counted as dependents but rather as whole contributing members of their communities. Their work has given them dignity and opened their lives for emotional, physical, and spiritual redemption. As members of local churches, they recognize God’s hand in providing for them.