Kazuri Design Contest Inspiration
by Karen E. Dean
I designed my bead entry on the book Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I am a professor at Illinois College ( www.ic.edu) in Jacksonville, IL, and each year I assign a book that my Intro to Political Science students must use to develop semester-long projects. This past spring, that book was Half the Sky. In all the years that I have included these projects in the design of the course, I have never personally felt the need to develop a project of my own. This year I did. I stumbled across Kazuri beads in a small shop in Oxford, Ohio, and fell in love with them immediately. I felt a connection both to their beauty and to the women who created them.
I thought I could do something with Kazuri beads on our campus. I began to string all kinds of beads-as well as Kazuri-into necklaces. My necklace project, "It's a Bling Thing for a Good Thing!" was born, with the help of friends, colleagues and students. I took the necklaces "on the road" (I laughingly called it my Spring Tour!) and sold them at our annual Intercultural Festival, at performances of the Vagina Monologues, and my church.
By the end of the semester, I had sold hundreds of necklaces and raised $4500 for HEAL Africa ( www.healafrica.org ), the organization I had selected to support. HEAL Africa helps women who have suffered fistulas as a result of brutal rapes used as a tool of war and genocide, or because of the appalling lack of women's medical care during childbirth.
My bead design pays honor to the book that seeks to raise awareness of the need for the empowerment of women and to the women who inspired it. Its title, Half the Sky, is based on the Chinese proverb, "Women hold up half the sky." You will see half the sky in the bead.
I submitted my bead design on the chance that it might be used to capture the attention of even more people. Its significance can be measured best in the context of the book and the mission of Kazuri to create opportunities for women and to imagine a world of greater justice. I encourage you to visit the Half the Sky web site ( www.halfthesky.org ), read the book, and find a way to help. You can be sure that here at Illinois College we will continue to spread the word. . .and wear the bead! The fall tour starts in October and people are already asking about holiday gifts. Thank you, Kazuri.
Click on picture to browse these beads and our other design contest winners