But it’s at Hut Hashani where Isabella found her calling, in the workshops she developed for her beading community.
“I believe in the healing properties of beading,” she says. “In the years that I have been teaching, I have met women who found ways to overcome physical and mental hardships through beads.” Isabella recalls one student, afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. “She had a terribly hard time beading. She had to force her hands to do what she wanted while beading — but she didn’t give in. She managed to gain control of her hands through beading, even though it was a great physical strain, and she was able to improve her everyday quality of life.”
Another memory strikes. “A woman who had lost her grandson had stopped living her life,” Isabella continued. After three years spent just existing, the woman was able to use beading as a way to live in the moment. “She could forget the tragedy for a few hours, and see the beauty that she created with her own hands.”
Stories like these showed Isabella the true power of beads. “I don’t take my talent for beading for granted,” she says. “The honor of teaching other people the art of beading is my way of giving back and thanking God for this talent.”
Isabella has bigger ideas for giving back. Though her project is only in the initial planning stages, she hopes to harness the power of beads (and beaders) to do good. “I have this idea of a cadre of women who, through the sale of jewelry they create from my designs, can help fund social assistance programs throughout the world,” she says. Her vision takes the local beading co-op idea one step further; in addition to helping the beaders support themselves through sales, a fixed percentage of the proceeds from each sale could be earmarked by the purchaser toward a charity or organization with which Isabella’s group will partner.
Beads: so small, and yet so powerful. Isabella is not finished exploring their potential for good. “Beading, in general, is a great way to heal the mind and the soul,” she says. “This is where I found my place.”