Category Archives: Paper Bead Jewelry

Paper Beads & Paintings Now For Sale Online!

jewelry & paintings for VK website-8

Dearest, patient online Vigilantes, the long-awaited day for you to purchase paper bead jewelry online is finally here. In case you simply can’t wait another moment, pop on over to our store to shop. I’ll wait here.

Because of seed money donated by Vigilantes prior to my last trip to Uganda,  Vigilante Kindness was able to purchase 1,000ish gorgeous paper bead necklaces and bracelets. I bought up every bit the women of Bungatira created and I thought surely 1,000ish pieces would be enough to last us for sales for a year.

I was wrong.

So very wrong.

I brought them to one local speaking engagement and had 2 small jewelry parties and POOF! all but a few pieces were snatched up before I could even breathe, let alone get the pieces loaded vigilantekindness.com to sell.

Honestly, it was a great problem to have. Once again, Vigilantes, you completely knocked my socks off with your generosity and support for the people we’ve come to love in Uganda.

The good news is that there are a few lovely pieces remaining and the even better news is that this year’s jewelry sales have guaranteed that this project is now self-sustaining. It makes me want to jump up and down a teensy bit. Okay, more than a teensy bit.

Before you head over to buy some beautiful paper bead jewelry, please take 2 minutes to see how the paper bead jewelry is made.

Loving you with all my liver,

Alicia

P.S. While you’re there you can check out the three remaining painting we have for sale by Ugandan artists Calvin & Seddrick.

Vigilante Kindness Recycling Drive

Hey, Vigilantes,

Sometimes doing something good requires giving of your time and money.

Sometimes all it takes is giving your trash.

This is the latter.

At Vigilante Kindness, we want to pursue self-sustaining educational and employment opportunities with and for people in developing countries throughout the world, but we also want to do that in a way that takes care of the world itself.

Enter the Vigilante Kindness Recycling Drive.

You may already know that we’re recycling magazines to help the women of Te Okot make paper bead jewelry to sell so they can earn a sustainable income.

paper beads made from recycled paperWe’ve added a few items to our list and 100% of the proceeds from the recycled items will go toward Vigilante Kindness general fund.

Please consider donating the following recyclable items to Vigilante Kindness:
  • aluminum cans
  • plastic bottles
  • empty printer cartridges
  • empty toner cartridges
  • old cell phones/smart phones
  • old (working) laptops
  • old iPods

Want to collect recyclables at your workplace, your school, your church or any other location for Vigilante Kindness?   Here’s a printable flyer for you to attach to the container of your choice.VK Recycling flyer

If you live in the Redding area, when your container is full, just shoot us an email (vigilantekindness@gmail.com) and we’ll come collect your recyclables.  If you live outside of the area, but would like to join the recycling drive, shoot us an email and we’ll get you all set up.

Thanks for helping us care for the people we love throughout the world in ways that also help care for the world itself.

Fondly,

Alicia

Vigilante Kindness: Paper Poem Beads

Yesterday I wrote about how God makes beautiful, new things out of old, wrecked things.  What got me to thinking about this in the first place is this little Vigilante Kindness Paper Bead Jewelry Project that’s in the very baby stages.

This project started with a conversation with my friend Denis about his wife, Vickie, and how she wants to be a businesswoman.

Vickie and some other women in Te Okot know how to make paper bead jewelry.  In fact, some of the men, including Denis, know how to make beads, too.  I wanted to bring Vickie a gift the next time I went to Te Okot, so I bought her some jewelry making tools and supplies.

The one thing that had me stumped was where to get the paper.  Slick, shiny, colorful magazine paper would work best, but it’s not like there’s a magazine stand on the corner in or anywhere near Te Okot.  I can think of two bookstores in Gulu.  They carry textbooks, dictionaries and Bibles.

Earlier in my trip, I’d stopped at the stationery store and picked up two blank sheets of poster paper to use in the poetry workshops I was teaching.  The posters were baby blue because that’s the only color the stationery store had and I bought their last two sheets.

I penned George Ella Lyon’s earthen poem Where I’m From on the posters, my handwriting slanting perilously downward as I wrote the words in pungent, permanent black ink.

I took these posters back and forth with me to class, rolled up in my backpack as I rode on the back of a boda to school, then taped with duct tape on the makeshift blackboard and finally rolled back up into my backpack at the end of each class.

By the time the writing workshops came to an end, my posters were covered in chalkdust from all the notes we added on the board around the poems.  The edges of the posters were red with the dust that blew into the classroom and also kicked up underneath the tires of the boda.  They were splattered with mud from puddles of fresh rain and polka-dotted with water spots from the rain itself.

My tattered posters were destined for the trash, that is until I found out that Vickie needed paper for jewelry making.  The posters weren’t the slick, colorful magazine paper that’s best for bead making, but they were what I had.

This seems like a lesson I have to learn over and over again.  What I’ve got to offer is enough, even when it’s tattered and splotched with mud.  It’s enough.

I passed off my poster to Denis who took it home and made beads with Vickie.  By the time I returned home, my mud stained, used up poster had been made into beautiful beads.

paper beadsI love these beads because they’re proof that stained, wrecked things can be made new.  Broken, wrecked people like me can be made new.  That’s another lesson that I have to keep learning.  Maybe the broken, wrecked parts of you need that whispered in the cracks, too.

I love these beads because poetry is tucked into them.  The black parts of the beads are my lopsided scribblings of George Ella Lyon’s gorgeous words.

I love these beads because the lighter parts of the beads are the water spots from a day when I was caught in a rainstorm, drenched down through all the layers of myself.

Most of all, I love these beads because they mean that Vickie and the women of Te Okot get the opportunity to be a businesswomen who are able to earn money and feed and clothe their children.

When I return to Te Okot in July, I’m bringing Vickie a suitcase full of magazines.  Your magazines and my magazines, once destined for the trash, or the recycle bin at best, will be made into jewelry. Second chances never looked so beautiful.

magazines

 

 

Saint Vickie

“Denis, how come you never talk about your wife and kids?”

It comes out harsh and more accusatory than I intend, but I don’t know how to say it any other way.  Friendship is so darn hard to navigate sometimes, especially when I’m all kinds of blunt and don’t know how to be otherwise.  Add to the mix friendship between two such different cultures and things really get messy.

“What do you mean?” he shouts over the wind whipping in my ears.

“I mean, we’re friends, right?”

I soften because this is the real root of my question and being vulnerable enough to ask it dissolves any toughness I purport to have.

Are we friends or aren’t we?

The lush green of Uganda passes in blurred shapes as we fly down the road.  This is how most of our conversations take place, me side saddle on the back of the boda boda as he threads through traffic and pedestrians and cows and pot holes a cacophony of other road hazards.

This is what we’re doing now, threading through pot holes and trying to remain on the path of our unlikely friendship.  It’s not the first difficult conversation we’ve had and odds are it won’t be the last.

“Yes, we’re friends.” Denis is perplexed by my question.

“But I didn’t know you have a wife and children until this week.  We’ve been friends for a long time now.  It feels weird that I’m just now knowing your family.  You know my family-my three boys and Terry.  You’ve even talked to Terry on the phone.”

Denis doesn’t respond.

“If you don’t want to tell me about your family, that’s really okay-I won’t make you, but I want you to know that you can tell me things, trust me with things.  I’m safe.  And I’d like to be friends with your wife.”

“Like I’m friends with Mr. Terry?”

“Yes, like you and Terry are friends and you and I are friends.  I’d like to be Vickie’s friend, that’s all.”

I leave it there, like an offering, meager as it might be and then I back off.

“My mind has been divided.  Last year I was focused on going to school and this year I’m focused on shifting to Te Okot,” Denis explains.

“Your mind was so divided that you forgot about your family?”

So much for backing off.  I’m not letting him get away with that one. No way.  If Terry’s mind was so divided that he forgot he’s married to me, well, let’s just say that wouldn’t end well.

I’m quiet, pressing my lips together to keep from spouting off my indignance on Vickie’s behalf. Denis catches my eye in the mirror on the handlebar and I wait, unblinking.

I once heard that when you ask a question, you should wait seven slow seconds to give the other person time to think, time to compose their response.

Seven seconds feels like an awkward eternity.  Go ahead and count them out.  I’ll wait.

You couldn’t make it past two, could you?

On the back of the boda boda I waited, counting the seconds.  I waited, maybe for a response.  Maybe for an explanation.  Maybe for nothing.  Because sometimes nothing is the only response. But I waited nonetheless, giving breathing space and thinking space and the space of time where there wasn’t the luxury of physical space.

Denis doesn’t offer up an explanation of why he safeguarded his family from me.  Instead he extends an olive branch.

“Would you like me to tell you the story of how I met Vickie?”  I hear a small smile creep into his voice.

“Very much.”

Denis unfolds the story of how he met Vickie when he was still staying in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp.  He tells about his sweet, kind father, who was legitimately bitter and angry, ravaged by war and loss.  I nod because if my child had been abducted I’d be beyond furious and seven shades beyond bitter.  Denis took his mother and moved out of the camp with Vickie, who was kind and soft when he needed it most.  Denis continues and tells me about his reconciliation with his father.

“I can’t imagine Musee being that way.” I say over the wind.

“War breaks a lot of things.”

It’s the truest sentence I’ve heard in a long time and I let the words sit between us before asking my next question.

“What does Vickie like to do?”

“She stays at home.”

“I know, but what does she like to do?  Does she like to sing or build things or sew or cook or dance?  What does she like to do?”

“She likes business.  She makes paper beads.  I learned how to make paper beads in the IDP camp and I taught Vickie and my sister, Conci.  Vickie wants to make jewelry and earn her own money.”

“Can I bring her a gift of bead making supplies when we visit Te Okot?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Good.”  I feel the embarrassment of not knowing about Vickie start to fade.

“From seeing her, how old do you think she is?”  Denis grins in the mirror.

I tilt my head to the side and conjure up her face.  She served me beans and posho the last time  I was in Te Okot and had the grace not to laugh at my feeble attempt at thanking her in Acholi.  She had a shy smile and smooth skin.

“I think she’s twenty-three.”

“She told you!”  Denis chides.

“No, she didn’t tell me.  She just looks twenty-three.”  I imagine being twenty-three, raising four small children in the bush, where daily living is so very hard.  Vickie is remarkably unhaggard.  “What are your children like?”

Denis tells me about Mercy, a first grader who loves to write.

“You’re just saying that because you know I love to write.”

“No, you will see in Te Okot.  Writing is her best subject.”

“And what about Lucky Maurice?  What’s he like?”

Denis shakes his head and tells me about his second child, Lucky (who incidentally is my favorite kid in the whole family because he’s always laughing and making mischief).  Denis tells me that Lucky used to pick on all the other kids in Bungatira and that trouble was Lucky’s shadow, but now he’s mostly grown out of that.

“And the twins?”

“Opiyo is sweet and Ochin is stubborn, so stubborn.”

“I know. The last time I was in Te Okot he was using the panga outside and Vickie asked him to bring it inside and from inside the house all we heard was a groan and his footsteps stomping away.”

“That’s Ochin.  Stubborn, stubborn boy.”

“I wonder where he gets it,” I elbow Denis in the back.  “You know she’s a saint for putting up with you,right?”

“Who?”

“Vickie.  Sweet Vickie.  Saint Vickie.”  I fold my hands piously.

He laughs and a few minutes later we reach our destination.  I pull out my notebook and scrawl a reminder.

“What are you writing?”

“Bead materials for Saint Vickie.  I love that she wants to be a businesswoman.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be her first customer.”