If you have read some of my other articles, you know I love to shop. Granted, I tend to look for the best “deal”, but I love artsy, unique items that have a special meaning. Usually these items are handmade, one of a kind and rarely inexpensive and yet I’ve found the perfect treasure right at Disney at their BeadForLife Kiosks.
Disney works with an organization called BeadforLife. (www.beadforlife.org) Have you ever wondered what happens to all the extra times guides at the end of the week, or maybe the maps that have become outdated? Disney crates them up and ships them to Uganda, Africa. Working through BeadforLife, the local women meticulously sort, measure and cut by hand (with scissors!) these discarded materials. The thin, triangle shaped strips are then tightly hand-rolled into beads and dipped into a sealant to make them glossy and somewhat water resistant. Each bead is a totally distinctive, colorful work of art.
Disney sells bracelets, anklets, necklaces and earrings. Prices run only from $7 to $20. And you can string your own beads too, for an even more unique souvenir. A very reasonable price for an extraordinary gift in my opinion!
The kiosks are currently found in Epcot’s African Outpost in World Showcase…
…and in Hollywood Studios near Rock n’ Roller coaster.
Reading the stories of the beadmakers on the BeadforLife website, this organization is literally a life saver for these women. Their history is grounded in tragedy, poverty and homelessness. This organization has given them the opportunity to work in a safer environment, spend more time raising their families and making more money. I overheard the cast member working the kiosk in Epcot saying that in addition to paying the women, Disney is also helping to fund fresh, accessible water to their villages.
I look at these beads each trip I make to Disney because they are different every time. And at such an affordable price, it’s hard not to bring one (or two) home. Not only do I get a special gift, but it also gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I have helped an organization that has obviously improved lives and situations in a country that desperately needs it.