Meet the Artisan: Victoria Ihula

making beads
making ornaments

In her own words:
(translated from Oshiwambo by Isabella Shilongo)

" When I first started working here atWork Of Our Hands, I started in the middle of the month and therefore I got paid N$400 ( about US $ 40 )  That day I couldn't eat or sleep or do anything because I was overjoyed and couldn't believe that I too could improve my own life and make my own money. I told myself that I too can come out of poverty. This is my first job ever.

Now, I make 3 or 4 times what my first salary was depending on how much I work that month. My husband does not have a stable job and so we couldn’t afford our own zinc house, we use to rent at the place where our landlord acts like he is tired of us although we were paying our rent on time. 
With the money I earn from working at Work of Our Hands, I with a little help from one of my relative, I bought materials to make my own house which tate Lon help me with transportation for free. We are now freely living in that house and I still can’t believe that I myself could afford to build my own place with the money that I myself earned. My life and the life of my children improved. I even have a bank account now which I never thought I will have.

I have 2 children that I support with the money I earn and a number of extended family members that I support and are very grateful that they have the aunt that supports them.
I am very grateful for meme and tate for coming to Namibia just for us. Our project is the only one that I know that creates jobs for people in Okahandja and we work peacefully and we have freedom of when to come to work but still earns more that some people that works at the farms or in some shops.
I thank God for meme and tate and I don’t know what I will do if I lose this job. "

Further translation:

*zinc house: house about 10 ' x 10' made of corrugated metal with a dirt or concrete floor and no      running water
* Meme and Tate : exact translation,  is mom and dad, but the terms are used as a way to respectfully  address someone older than you are

Vicky is on the top row left side. Everyone is trying to stay warm with hot tea. Namibia in the winter is like can sometimes dip into  near freezing temperatures and almost no buildings have heat. It's usually cold in the mornings, then warms up with the sun, but buildings stay cool. We joke that it's the only country where you go outside to warm up.


Okawa African Bead jewelry is going to New York !

We are so excited (and scared too !)

We are so grateful to Woven Promises who have offered us this opportunity to share booth space with them at the NOW trade show
Woven Promises will be showing Namibian baskets and their wonderful line of African textiles

Our artisans are happy to once again be busy, and now a lot more work to do by all before January 30 !

So hoping for good sales, but not so many that we are overrun and unable to fill them :)


Next Saturday October 17- 2015  I am finally doing something I have thought about for a long time ( and thanks to my daughter's urging) I'm having a jewelry making party .

Featuring our most simple designs, participants will be able to choose their own colors and beads and go home with just what they want for themselves or for gifts.  

If you live in the Denver area (or in Orlando Florida October 29th thru November 9 -2015) and would like to book your own party please email me :

If this is well accepted we may even expand into classes where I would teach more difficult designs with wire work etc.

On a little different note, I'd like to introduce some new designs for 2015 winter-2016 Spring

I think these multi strand bracelets and necklaces with Okawa focal beads are going to go fast. I know my daughter already grabbed her favorite one.

These earrings feature ruffles something new in our bead line this year.

And then there are our new leather  bracelets with Okawa Focal's.

And leather bracelets featuring Okawa Clasps.

October 23 and 24  Family in Christ Church holiday show Westminster Colorado

October 31 thru Nov 2 Northland Community Church Longwood Florida before and after services.

Nov. 14 and 15 Country Christmas Adams County Fair grounds Thornton Colorado

April 29 and 30 2016 Bead Baazar Denver Merchandise Mart 
Note: this show is mostly bead related rather than finished jewelry


I just finished a 3 day workshop with Children of Promise Ministries  in Rehoboth Namibia. The founder Sylvia Beukes ( in the denim dress above) is a pioneer in Namibia, in that she founded a foster care program rather  than an orphanage to care for  vulnerable children and orphans. 

Teens, preteens and foster care mom's took off like rockets after a few instructions in fabric flower making and ceramics.

We had two days of ceramic training and one day of fabric flower making.


Our work space was in the old Rehoboth museum, and we are hoping these few days will be the start of a creative blossoming in the whole community. Word travels fast in small towns, and we had quite a few curious visitors, who want to participate in future workshops.

I big big thank you to Carla and Ceramic Supply Pittsburg who gave us a big discount on glaze and went to LOTS of trouble to get it all mailed off to us ! THANK YOU !