The Leakey Collection dedicates proceeds from each Beads for Clean Water Zulugrass strand to the “Clean Water for Every Home” project; the goal - put a water dispensing unit, locally called a “leak-tin” in every Maasai home in the area. Clean water for drinking and washing helps stop the spread of life threatening disease and illness. Each strand is packaged on a special tag--explaining how the proceeds will be allocated--and can be worn wrapped 3-4 times around your wrist or ankle or even long as a necklace.
Zulugrass 26" single strands are made from sustainable, natural grass beads. The richly hued grass is dyed with colorfast, low-impact dyes and interspersed with hand-blown Czech glass. Zulugrass is as creative as the individual that buys it!
In 2001, a terrible drought persisted for several years and brought devastation to the pasture lands. The livelihood of the Maasai disappeared as their cattle died. The men had to drive the few remaining cattle hundreds of miles away in search for better grazing while the women looked desperately for ways to feed, clothe, and educate their children and obtain medical supplies. Philip and Katy Leakey, founders of The Leakey Collection who live among the Maasai in East Africa, wanted to provide their neighbors with work opportunities. They came up with an imaginative idea to utilize the excellent beading abilities of the Maasai women by using a readily available, sustainable resource- GRASS- as the primary element.
Previously used in the furniture industry due to its strength, the reed-like grass was dried, cut into bead-size pieces, dyed with environmentally-friendly textile dyes, and strung on durable elastic with hand-blown Czech glass beads. Mobile work stations were set up so the women could bring their babies and toddlers with them and work when they chose. As word passed through the Maasai community, women started walking as much as two hours each way to have their first chance to earn money. Now, even the men have joined in the entrepreneurial opportunities.