Beni Ghale, a woman in Nepal, was abandoned by her husband with no source of income and two children to care for on her own.
Rather than resort to prostitution, and with only herself to rely on, Beni began to ask local restaurants in Kathmandu for their used rice sacks. She worked hard to replicate the traditional grass baskets by making tote bags and purses from these recycled sacks.
An employee from the non-profit organization Solace International saw her selling her wares and heard her compelling story. Agreeing to purchase her bags for a fair price to sell in Nepal and in the United States too, Solace International worked with Beni to help her become a self-sufficient businesswoman.
Beni’s increase in sales has allowed her to open up three shops in Kathmandu. She now employs over a dozen single mothers, like herself, and is able to ensure that all of her workers receive fair wages.
Solace International has made a huge impact in Beni’s life, as well as others like her, by creating opportunities for people to be paid fair wages to better themselves and their community.
The non-profit’s goal is to have its projects become self-sustainable sources of income for future local business and community leaders. Its projects include health clinics, schools, sustainable agriculture programs, orphanages, and shops as well as other mechanisms that integrate education and economic opportunity at the community level.
Solace International employees and volunteers work side by side with each individual to create products in safe, healthy, and fair wage working conditions. Most of the products sold through Solace International are recycled and repurposed items that would normally be trash. By reusing plastic water bottles, tires, and rice bags, there is less blight on the community.
The products Solace International sells contribute to their efforts to create businesswomen without access to capital in countries such as Colombia, Ghana, Nepal, Afghanistan and Malawi.
These items range from everyday wares to high-end fashions. All profits made from the sale of these goods go to pay fair wages to the workers and to fund the schools, orphanages, and clinics.
Solace International’s motto is "when we become obsolete we have succeeded."
Belts, bracelets, bags, totes, hats, jewelry and more are available through Solace International’s website or you may make a tax-deductible donation to help fund future projects and invest in self-sufficiency across the world at HERE.
Please support the organization by buying goods or making a donation at their booth near the Urban Dance tent at the San Diego LGBT Pride Festival in Balboa Park taking place this weekend.
John Greenwell is a community activist who works by day as a middle school teacher. He is actively involved with numerous community organizations including Solace International, Gay For Good, The Center's Young Professionals Council, and is a 2012 New Leaders Council Fellow.