To those of you who bought earlier editions of the O Bracelet (May and December 2007), thank you for helping transform the lives of the African women who made them (you can still buy them at the Oprah Store; 312-633-2100).
For our third collection, the artists of Fair Winds Trading (FWT), which develops markets for artisans all over the world, used the inspiration of Umoja to come up with a completely novel design: The new bracelets are made with an exclusive woven mesh that represents the amazing web of women coming together in strength and unity to make change. Inside, different colors of Swarovski crystals tumble around, expressing the brightness of spirit that refuses to be dimmed.
Next, FWT arranged to get all the materials to Umoja, along with someone to teach the women how to make this design. FWT also secured a generous grant from the Kind World Foundation to supply the village with tools and training (before, all they had was a single pair of plastic scissors). Then the women went to work. Because of the instability in Kenya, we also employed our previous bracelet team in Rwanda, who were happy to support their Kenyan sisters now facing ethnic violence. The money raised by the bracelets breaks down as follows: Fifteen percent goes directly to the women involved in the production in Umoja (or Rwanda); 10 percent is donated to Umoja to help the village set up a water system; 5 percent goes to Rwandan staff and trainers for the extra production there; 10 percent for FWT administration costs of running the project in three countries; 15 percent covers materials; 10 percent for packaging (boxes, tags); 15 percent for shipping between Africa and the United States; 5 percent for ground transport within Africa; 15 percent for Macy's to set up their website and handle orders. No one is making a profit except the women. (In their economy, the earnings are significant.)
To link arms with them by wearing an O Bracelet, go to macys.com/obracelet to order.
Pictured: O Bracelets from Kenya: Swarovski crystals in woven mesh with sterling silver orbs: plain ($28); jet black ($54); white opal and quartz ($54); gold and silver ($70).
You can also donate directly to Umoja via madre.org.
From the May 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!