Joyce dressing her youngest son Delvin (fondly nicknamed "Baby") for school. All seven of Joyce's children attend school.
Joyce Lelukai Joyce dressing her youngest son Delvin (fondly nicknamed "Baby") for school. All seven of Joyce's children attend school. © Roshni Lodhia

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Beads of Change

One red, one blue, two yellow—Joyce Lelukai meticulously follows a pattern. The jewelry and housewares she creates—one tiny, colorful bead at a time—represent big ideas: power, independence and a healthier future for her family and nature.

Joyce leads a group of women artisans who are a part of BeadWORKS, a program of TNC’s partner Northern Rangelands Trust's business arm, Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading (NRT-T), in Kenya. NRT helps around 320,000 Indigenous People who belong to 18 different ethnic groups sustainably manage their communal lands. “Before I started working with BeadWORKS, I used to cut trees and sell charcoal and firewood,” says Joyce. “I have stopped that because I now know that trees are valuable. I educate my group so nobody cuts trees.”  

Artisans present a check
Artisans present a check Five percent of BeadWORKS revenues are given back to community conservancies to be used for development activities such as school bursaries. © Joanna Brown
Elephant
Elephant An elephant in Samburu National Reserve. © Roshni Lodhia
Artisans present a check Five percent of BeadWORKS revenues are given back to community conservancies to be used for development activities such as school bursaries. © Joanna Brown
Elephant An elephant in Samburu National Reserve. © Roshni Lodhia

Through BeadWORKS, 1,300 women earn more money creating traditional handicrafts than from other work that can have harmful impacts on the environment. Their higher income helps them access healthcare and send their children to school.

Joyce Lelukai crafts a beaded strap for Beadworks at her home (boma) in Kalama Conservancy.
Beading Joyce Lelukai crafts a beaded strap for Beadworks at her home (boma) in Kalama Conservancy. © Roshni Lodhia