My visit to Bullets to Beads

My visit to Bullets to Beads

It’s hard to find more gorgeous, meaningful jewellery that Bullets to Beads. I’ve bought numerous pieces for myself and others since I started working for Hamlin almost six years ago.

As the name suggests, the story behind this stunning, fair-trade jewellery is as beautiful as the unique pieces themselves. 

It begins in northern Ethiopia where farmers collect artillery shells, left behind after decades of civil war. Using traditional techniques passed from generation to generation, the village artisans melt these shells down to produce delicate beads and discs. The beads go through several stages to achieve the final polished look before being sent to Entoto Mountain.

I’ve just returned from the March Hamlin Ethiopian Adventure and our tour group was lucky enough to visit the Entoto Artisan fairtrade workshop on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, where these beads are expertly fashioned into exquisite earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings.

 Strand upon strand of shiny beads cover every surface as they wait to be crafted into unique, one-of-a-kind pieces with a funky modern twist. What was once intended for harm now brings hope and life. 

Inspired by traditional Ethiopian designs, the creative women that work here not only recycle the beads from the artillery casings but also reuse Ethiopian leather and hammered silver to create delicate jewellery and stylish handbags.

This impactful social enterprise employs more than one hundred local women living with HIV/AIDS who were previously only able to make a living by begging or hard labour.

Entoto’s mission is to create fair-wage jobs for these under-privileged women, helping to lift them out of the poverty associated with their harshly stigmatised condition. The women also receive financial assistance for healthcare and after-school tutoring programs.

Women are empowered through learning new skills and earning an income to live independently so they can provide an education for their children and support their families and communities.

Perhaps best of all, they are part of a loving community that treats them with dignity and respect.

Upon entering the Entoto shop at the end of the tour, it was impossible to decide upon only one piece, so I bought several! It feels great to know the proceeds from my purchases are making such a difference - providing skilled jobs and improving the lives of the women working at Entoto and their families.

My favourite pieces? I love the Tizita necklace with its braided chain and silver beads. It’s a great length, too. The Hawi neckace is also a beauty, with its delicate silver and bronze-coloured beads. To spruce up your ears, try the gorgeous hoop Zahara earrings.  

 Discover the Bullets to Beads range at the Hamlin Shop here. All proceeds support the women at Entoto and the brave fistula patients at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

Written by Helen Wilson

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