Sidai Maasai Women’s Organization, a charitable entity that works to embolden women through community development and education, involves over fifty women in gathering materials and crafting one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other items.
For millennia, members of Africa’s Maasai tribe have lived in Tanzania’s arid north-central Arusha region, where years of drought, overpopulation, and economic strain have made it challenging for many to realize financial stability. The female artisans of Sidai Designs have used artwork—particularly the elaborately beaded adornments traditional to the culture—as a means of creative expression, and as a successful way of supporting themselves and their families.
Sidai Designs produces a range of uniquely patterned, brilliantly hued wearable art, constructed primarily of tiny seed beads. Fasteners are made of soft leather and sterling silver, but Sidai’s resourceful artisans also use recycled materials. Instead of using manufactured cord, for example, one might string beads on up-cycled thread from discarded bags of grain. Especially ingenious is the use of plastic food containers like yogurt cups that are cut to create boning for heavier pieces of jewelry.
Sidai offers Masaai women the opportunity to gain lasting, unique creative knowledge which can be used to support themselves and their families. In Maa, the language of the Maasai tribe, “Sidai” means good or beautiful. It’s a fitting name for an organization that shines both inside and out.