It all began as “one bead at a time”– an inspirational model of sustainability in Uganda that has been helping women lift themselves from poverty for five years. Today, it evolves to “one student at a time,” as BeadforLife celebrates the launch of their signature curriculum designed to educate youth on the issue of extreme poverty- “Understanding Global Poverty: How Youth Can Make a Difference!”

Students working with the new BeadforLife program this fall will explore the broader issues of resource scarcity and distribution, as well as experience hypothetically what it is like to live in extreme poverty – focusing on the hard fact that 1.4 billion people worldwide are living on about a dollar per day. These objectives are achieved through a variety of integrative tools and visual and interactive exercises. One day focuses on “Meeting the Beaders,” incorporating a dynamic activity called “Life in the Slums of Kampala.” After watching a BeadforLife video and sharing the devastating stories of the women and their challenges of war, AIDS, starvation and intense hardship, the students will explore what life is like in the Acholi Quarter, a slum in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, Africa. Together, groups of five to eight students create a 10’ x 10’ square drawn outside on the ground, or taped indoors in a classroom, cafeteria or gymnasium. The students are challenged to fit their group within this space, representing the typical size of a family home. They will explore how their very own living situations differ from those of the beaders, and take a deeper look at what items are truly necessary for survival. The exercise closes with a positive “Message of Hope,” sharing the incredible achievements of the beaders whose hard work and empowerment through BeadforLife has changed their lives forever. 

One of the most effective parts of this new BeadforLife curriculum is that the lessons are only the beginning. Students are encouraged to continue their fight against poverty by taking action with modern-day applications shared with them. This motivates our youth to carry their learning to their own worlds of friends, family, community and beyond. 

The new 54-page BeadforLife curriculum is intended to expose students to conditions of extreme poverty and Africa, with the specific focus on BeadforLife and the structure created to help people rise out of poverty in Uganda. The organization partnered with “Facing the Future” to develop some of the activities and lessons. Throughout the five-day plan, students will use simulations like the activity above, discussions and service learning to better understand global poverty and ways they can make a difference. BeadParties at schools are an effective way for students to make a difference. At BeadParties, parents, friends and students gather together to see and purchase the beads, watch a DVD of the beaders, eat African foods, and learn more about extreme poverty and how to make a difference. 

For the past year, BeadforLife has piloted and tested the curriculum with teachers and students in 20 classrooms to refine the five-hour curriculum with students in a real classroom setting. “The BeadforLife Curriculum was easily modified to fit the needs of any classroom. It was comprehensive and engaging for students to learn about extreme poverty,” says one of the teachers who piloted the curriculum. Comments from the students reaffirm that the curriculum drives some impactful results. “This curriculum opened my eyes to how I can help people around the world, and it also showed extreme poverty at its highest level…it impacted me greatly,” says Colin, sixth grade. 

“We believe that youth have amazing potential to make a difference in our world, and we’re so excited about this new way to reach them through our hands-on service learning curriculum for grades 6-12,” says Patty Manwaring, BeadforLife Education Program Manager. “Our ultimate goal is for the next generation to become informed global citizens who feel empowered to alleviate poverty wherever they encounter it; whether it’s in their local community or in a remote village half-way across the world,” she adds. 

BeadforLife partners with impoverished women in Uganda to create beaded jewelry out of recycled paper, providing a sustainable income, and reinvesting profits in community development. The organization has empowered women who were once earning less than a dollar a day to earn $5-$7 per day. 

Getting started with ”Understanding Global Poverty, and How Youth Can Make a Difference” is easy, with three great options: 

1- Instructors can download the curriculum directly from the BeadforLife website for FREE. 

2- Instructors can create a more interactive package, adding on a DVD, CD and 30 BeadforLife bangle bracelets for only $14.95.  

3- Instructors can opt for the entire package, including a printed full-color 54-page curriculum and all of the items previously mentioned for $29.95.  

For more information about the new curriculum, hosting a BeadParty or to purchase jewelry online, visit

For more media information, please contact Amy Yanda-Lee ( or 303-325-3105.   


About BeadforLife: BeadforLife is a collaboration of women in Uganda and women around the world. Women in Uganda roll beautiful bead jewelry out of recycled paper and women worldwide sell the jewelry and educate themselves and others about extreme poverty. The profits return to fight extreme poverty specifically in areas of health care, housing and business training initiatives. BeadforLife is a 501(c)(3) organization.

About Facing the Future:  BeadforLife thanks Facing the Future, a global issues curriculum organization from which several of the simulations are taken. Visit Facing the Future’s website at to download FREE curriculum and resources for K-12 educators. 




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