In 1998 Thuli Dumakude put forward a proposal to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, an organization founded and administered by the artist community in New York City, USA to distribute and sell beaded ornaments to raise funds for HIV/ AIDS to theater going audiences where the Lion King is being performed.
A partnership with the New York based Broadway Cares and Thembalethu Beaders of South Africa was formed and has continued to date. As a result of this partnership, three projects have been successfully implemented in Greytown and KwaNdebele.
The women were supplied with the initial consignment of beads and carved animals at no cost, and after months of training they managed to create beaded ornaments that are sold at the Lion King theaters today. (Their style of beading has improved so that they are now able to custom make any merchandise).
The result is an income generating community of rural women who generally meet in groups for their beading activities and are thus able to talk to each other while about developing solutions around the various issues of HIV/ AIDS which impact their daily lives including AIDS orphans and children raising children.
The primary focus for Thembalethu Beaders is to provide assistance to women- training them to understand how to create and prepare products for marketing to overseas markets, stressing the importance of quality control and packaging, making it possible for the village to provide employment for its citizens.
Working in conjunction with corporations around the world, an opportunity exists to expand this network for women manufacturing beaded ornaments which results in an income generating community working collaboratively to address issues of global challenges.