The Maasai are a tall, proud and graceful pastoral people who live in Kenya and Tanzania. They still keep their traditions intact - herding cattle and living off the land. Unfortunately, a drought devastated pasture lands and their livelihood disappeared as their cattle died. The men had to drive the few remaining cattle hundreds of miles away to search for better grazing. Women needed a way to obtain medical supplies, and to feed, clothe, and educate their children.
Philip and Katy Leakey, who live among the Maasai, came up with an idea that would utilize the beading abilities of the Maasai women, and used grass, an available sustainable resource, as the primary element.
Soon the women were harvesting grass, one blade at a time. The long grass was dried and cut into bead-size pieces and dyed lovely hues - which were then strung into necklaces and bracelets. The Leakeys added Czech glass beads to their designs.
Women learned that they could bring their babies with them and they would be paid by the piece as they chose to work. Now over 1,400 Maasai women are making Zulugrass while continuing to lead their lives in their traditional life style, and they can use their income to better their lives.