Intricate, brightly colored beads adorn the handmade necklaces that delegate Cissy Namukose brought with her to General Conference 2012 from Uganda.
You’d never know it by just looking at these beautiful works of wearable art, but the beads are made from simple stock paper, and behind each one is a story of triumph.
Cissy, 35, a mother of two daughters (aptly named Joyful and Victorious) tells these stories in a soft-spoken, yet bold voice.
“We’ve got a number of women and youth at the church who came together to devise a way to become sustainable and help ourselves,” she said.
Inspired by a friend at another church, the group began creating and selling handmade crafts, including the paper necklaces, tablemats and baskets.
“The youth are able to pay school fees. Some of them are orphans. The women are able to buy food for their children, buy clothing and pay rent on their houses. They are able to educate their children,” said Cissy.
The crafts are popular among locals and networks of friends throughout the world — including right here at General Conference.
“Oh, they’re a hot selling item!” exclaimed Madeline Dusenberry, who works the Imagine No Malaria booth in the exhibit hall. Imagine No Malaria purchased crafts, including necklaces from Cissy’s group, to sell at their exhibit with proceeds benefiting the fight against malaria deaths in Africa.
Five necklaces sat on the table as Cissy explained the difficult process of making the paper beads and stringing the necklaces together. Within ten minutes, three of them had sold.
“It’s all about being creative,” said Cissy with a smile.