The first time we unearthed Boussouma beads, they were bunched up in a basket at the check in counter at a hotel. Delighted, it was hard to believe that these beautiful beads were not of stone but plastic: Colorful, marbled, perfectly formed plastic.
The hotel put us in touch with the founding members of the French NGO Couleur Baobab, Françoise Chevallier and her husband Jacques, who connected PagaBags with an association of women farmers in Boussouma. Boussouma is a small farming village located in the countryside north of Ouagadougou. Like Ouaga, Boussouma has a plastic and waste problem.
Since 2014, PagaBags has worked with the women’s association, called Zemes Taaba, to make necklaces and bracelets from their remarkable plastic beads. This gives the women income during the off-season.
The technique involves prodding small chunks of pre-cut plastic onto a metal stick. The stick is then slowly rotated over a fire until the plastic softens. It does not take long but it does take skill and concentration.
At PagaBags, we work with 28 women waste collectors who sort out the plastic bags we use to create our cloth made of cotton and recycled plastic. In 2016, we invited a traditional African bracelet maker to collaborate in training these women in making these beautiful bangles (created out of recycled and dried eucalyptus leaves and plastic strands!).
We call our bracelets "Smile Bracelets".
These creations actually fund a healthcare program we set up in 2016.
Indeed, 25% of your purchase of a Smile Bracelets goes directly back to a women's healthcare fund for the women waste collectors whom we work with.
Wear a Smile Bracelet and be part of a creative fashion statement that tells a story of Positive Change in the livelihood of women.