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.”
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.