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The Beauty of Broken Glass


by Lisa Tresch, U.S. Director

Two years ago, I received the gift of a beaded necklace and bracelet that were purchased in Ghana. The beads were unlike anything I had seen before. They were chunky, brightly colored, and imperfect in a way that made me want to examine them closer. They were not all uniform - unlike beads made in a factory - and the painted designs looked like they had been done individually. There were subtle differences in the painting, which caused me to imagine an artisan with a tiny brush, creating these designs one by one, with intricate and painstaking detail. Some of the beads were a little rough around the edges. I was fascinated with these works of art, which I learned were called Krobo beads.

This began a love affair with recycled beads that has continued. I hunted down these beads in Ghana, and also connected with a wonderful organization, Soul of Somanya, located in the Krobo region of the country (thus the name, Krobo bead). They employ at-risk young people to learn bead and jewelry making.

As usual, the best part is the story behind the story. These beads are made from scraps of glass that have been discarded. Artisans hunt down broken pieces – soda and beer bottles, jars, glasses, car windshields – and gather them to create their beads. The glass is crushed, mixed with a paste, molded, fired, and then painted. It’s a traditional art that has been handed down for generations.

photo courtesy of Soul of Somanya

We purchase these beads from Soul of Somanya and other bead makers and traders, and also purchase as many as possible when we travel to Ghana. I love these beads because they represent the transformation of something broken and discarded into something beautiful and filled with purpose. God can take a person or family who appears to be broken and transform them. We see this happening all around us – here in the U.S. and in Ghana. God uses all of us for this kind of restoration work, and it’s a joy to be a part of it.

These beads are a reminder to us that even when the work is difficult, God’s desire is to fix what is broken. We believe in that and we use all the resources available to us for that purpose. We treat each person with dignity, knowing they are capable, creative, and ready to help their families and village rise.

We’ll be offering jewelry made with recycled beads from Ghana at The Village event on October 2 in Tulsa. If you haven’t purchased tickets, now is the time! We are excited to share with you the beauty of transformed lives. Join us for this special evening.

Purchase your tickets here.

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