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zulugrass beaded jewelry

Natural Selections Gift Shop Spotlight: Zulugrass

We strive to fill the Natural Selections Gift Shop with fun, educational items for children, while at the same time providing high-quality, unique gifts for adults. One of the product lines we’re proud to carry is Zulugrass.  A member of the Fair Trade Federation, Zulugrass offers beautiful handmade beaded jewelry, and purchasing it supports the very women that make it!  Read how it all started, then come to the Natural Selections Gift Shop to check Zulugrass out for yourself!

Zulugrass

Leading a traditionally pastoral lifestyle, the Maasai people of the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania herd cattle and live off the land. Despite modernization and change happening around them, the Maasai continue to keep their culture and traditions alive, adorning themselves with colorful clothing and ornaments.

After a terrible drought devastated the area and killed their cattle, essentially destroying their livelihood, the Maasai men were forced to drive the few remaining cattle miles away in search of better grazing, while the women were left (ill-equipped) to feed, clothe, and support their families.

zulugrass

photo courtesy of leakeycollection.com

Philip and Katy Leakey live among the Maasai, and decided they had to do something to help their neighbors get through the hard times that lie ahead. By utilizing the natural resources around them and the skilled beadwork of the Maasai women, the Leakeys came up with an idea…and Zulugrass was born!

zulugrass beaded jewelryZulugrass jewelry is made from tall, native grass that is dried, cut into beads, dyed in over 200 colors, and strung onto durable elastic. The Leakeys added the touch of Czech glass beads for a more contemporary look with a bit of sparkle. The strands can be worn as necklaces, bracelets, anklets, chokers, and even belts!

zulugrassWomen began harvesting blades of grass one at a time for the unique handmade jewelry. Word spread of the opportunity that Zulugrass presented, allowing women the flexibility to bring their babies and toddlers to work and earn money for each piece of jewelry they made. Soon, women were walking as far as 2 hours each way to take advantage of this!

Zulugrass continues to grow, and now over 1,400 Maasai women are making Zulugrass, using their skills to support their families while maintaining the integrity of their traditional lifestyle.

Zulugrass is a fair trade product that supports the local economy of the Maasai people in Kenya.  For more information on Zulugrass jewelry and other fair trade products they make, visit www.leakeycollection.com.

Adventure Travel: Tanzanian Safari

Adventure Travel: Tanzanian Safari

For many years, Clyde has taken groups to various locations around the world. The locations are primitive, full of wildlife, and exciting! This Tanzanian Safari is not just for those who have a passion for reptiles and amphibians; it is for anyone with a sense of adventure!

This February, Clyde will be taking a group on an African Safari to Tanzania with an opportunity for an extended trip to Rwanda. On this excursion, you will arrive at Kilimanjaro and visit places such as Tarangire National Park which houses one of the largest elephant populations in Africa. This park may also present to you the opportunity to see lions, cheetahs, baboons, leopards, impalas, zebras, ostrich, and oryxes. Another place you’ll be visiting is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest volcanic caldera. The rim is located at an altitude of 7,500-8,000 feet and your lodge is sited right on the rim. The locations you will be visiting within the crater are inhabited by thousands of flamingoes and other wildlife, giving you perfect photographic opportunities. The Serengeti is also on the list of places you will visit, and you will stop at the Ndutu area where the wildebeest migration herd spends the first part of each year. Concluding this trip will be a visit to Shanga which is a workshop for the disabled. Here the employees recycle bottles into beaded art.

Adventure Travel: Tanzanian SafariClyde and Dianne Peeling during Clyde’s last Tanzanian trip, February 2011.

For those who choose the Rwanda Extension, you will get a tour of Kigali city with a trip to the market and an opportunity for a pottery project. You will then journey through the characteristically terraced hillsides of Rwanda to the base of the Virunga volcanoes. This extension will also supply you with the chance to visit with mountain gorillas where you will track a gorilla family and spend an hour with them. You will also have an interactive experience in the village where you will learn about Rwanda traditions, culture, song, and dance. Rwanda is infamous for its genocide and war between the Hutu and Tootsie tribes in the 1990’s, so you will visit the Imbabazi Orphanage which shelters many genocide orphans and displaced children. You will also visit the Nyamata and Mtarama Genocide Memorials, and conclude your trip with breakfast on the top floor of the hotel which offers a fabulous view of the city of Kigali.

For more information on the Tanzanian Safari and the trip itinerary, click here.