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Ganesh Himal and Kizuri organize Festival of Fair Trade

Spokane’s 29th annual Festival of Fair Trade, planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, at 35 W. Main, will include showing the film, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” at 2 p.m., Saturday, at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main.

After the film, Denise Attwood, co-owner of Ganesh Himal Trading, a local fair trade business, will discuss “Moving beyond Paralysis: Steps for Making Positive Change.”

Local people who work with producers in Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala and Chile will sell handcrafts, clothing, jewelry, pottery and sweatshop-free items in the festival.

Purchases of fairly traded products support artisan cooperatives, small farmers and sustainable economic development in some of the world’s lowest income regions, said Denise.

Ganesh Himal - power of five

The Power of Five Campaign has raised more than $18,000 to send girls to school in Nepal.

photo thanks to

Ganesh Himal Trading began importing fairly traded handcrafts from Nepal in 1984, and started the festival in 1985.  They created a wholesale business in Spokane to market products they purchase from Tibetan refugees, women’s development projects and cottage industries. They now sell to more than 250 retail stores in North America.

“We started the festival to promote the idea of fair trade and give Spokane-area shoppers the choice to shop consciously,” said Denise. “The festival has grown to include other local fair trade businesses that import products from other countries.”  

This year is the first anniversary of Ganesh Himal’s Power of 5 Campaign, which raises money to help girls stay in school in Nepal, a country where a girl’s education is often a low priority because of poverty and cultural expectations.

“Since last November, we raised more than $18,000 to send 180 impoverished girls to school for 12 months,” said Denise.  “Fair trade stores across the U.S. have participated.”

One scholarship recipient, Heema Maharjan, 16, said, “My goal is to become a doctor and help others, especially poor people. The scholarship has allowed me to continue my studies in science and English. Without it, my parents, who are poor, would not be able to afford my education.”

The Power of 5 continues to raise money to help girls stay in school. Denise was inspired to start the project after watching the documentary, “Half the Sky.” 

Overwhelmed by difficulties women and girls face, she and others at Ganesh Himal committed to raising money and awareness for poor Nepali girls, who want to be educated and move beyond desperation.

“People coming to the festival want to create a better world,” said Denise.  “We want to give girls access to learning to help them understand that they can have power to make change.  Fair trade and educating girls go hand in hand.  Our customers want to help make it happen.

“The Power of 5 works like a ripple, reaching an expanding body of people through a small amount of money and effort,” she said.  “Five friends finding five friends generates enough money to send two girls to school through the Association of Craft Producers in Kathmandu, Nepal.”

For information, call 448-6566.

Copyright © November 2013 - The Fig Tree