Reprinted from the Mercy Bulletin, April 2011When Jane Patton went to her appointment at Iowa Diabetes and Endocrinology Center (IDEC) to learn how to use her new insulin pump, she didn’t realize she would be the one doing the teaching.
While Madeline Richert, IDEC diabetes educator, was showing Jane how to use her new pump, she noticed the plastic bracelet Jane was wearing that said “ChildVoice” on it. When Madeline asked about the bracelet, Jane showed her educator a beaded bracelet she was wearing, as well, and told Madeline about her experiences traveling to northern Uganda with ChildVoice International – an organization that helps rehabilitate children
and communities that have been broken by decades of war.
Jane explained that women in Ugandan villages make the beads from long strips of brightly colored paper, then give them to teams of missionaries to bring back and sell in the U.S. All proceeds from the jewelry are returned to northern Uganda, where ChildVoice International uses them to support health care, education, sustainable water and sanitation systems and community revitalization projects.
Madeline, herself a passionate advocate for women’s justice issues in Africa, asked Jane if she would help her get a supply of beaded jewelry to sell. At her next appointment, Jane brought Madeline several styles of necklaces and bracelets, along with a photo booklet that featured the bead-making process and the stories of the women who make the beads for a living.
Madeline and her colleague, Dawn Gustofson, were awed by the selection of brightly-colored beaded jewelry. Within 48 hours, the two had shared the story and the beads with enough of their co-workers to result in almost $500 in sales – funds that will return to help the villages and families where the beads began as long, thin strips of paper.