Fair trade has best year in funds, relationships grow
After two years of not holding the Festival of Fair Trade over Thanksgiving weekend at the Community Building, Ganesh Himal Trading Company and Kizuri are planning the three-day event Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26 to 28.
"The community loves to get together for this event," said Denise Attwood, co-owner of Ganesh Himal Trading Co. with Austin Zimmerman.
Ganesh Himal is a wholesale company that has partnered with artisans in Nepal since 1984.
"The last two years we have seen how important community involvement is. We have helped fair trade retail stores and they have helped us," Denise said. "Fair trade producers have been concerned about selling their products, especially with shipping costs up. We realize none of us does fair trade by ourselves. We do it together.
"This year, 2022, has been the best year ever in fair trade in my 38 years of fair trade," she said. "I'm heartened that so many people are stopping to think about what is important and they have stepped up to support small business and fair trade. People are paying attention to where their money is going."
Ganesh Himal Trading has community support beyond fair trade, in donations to its nonprofit the Conscious Connections Foundation (CCF). Through Nepali-North American partnership, CCF invests in women and girls to be key participants in their society, said Austin.
CCF's 2021 Annual Report tells of Riza Prajapati, a Power of 5 Education Fund recipient since it began in 2012. She then received a Joy Attwood College Scholarship, a need- and merit-based scholarship for grades 11 and 12. Starting in 2019, applicants for that scholarship have to apply for the WomanLead 12-month training program. In 2021, Riza was one of 30 chosen from 300 applicants for the program.
She tells how the training changed her life, learning about time management, leadership style, learning style, public speaking, gender stereotypes, emotion matters and civic engagement.
Riza said she used to feel awkward, but now has new friends and wants to improve herself further.
In another effort, CCF assisted marginalized communities during COVID, people who were not receiving government assistance. The LGBTQ+ community was one group that was ostracized.
A leader in the community, Nilam Poudel, helped CCF distribute cooking gas and food. Nilam then asked for funds to train 65 LGBTQ+ individuals to be makeup artists. Many started in business, giving them regular work and moving many out of the sex trade.
"In Nepal, makeup artists are an accepted way for the LGBTQ+ community to interact with the wider community and earn a living," said Denise.
For information, call 448-6561 or visit ganeshhimaltrading.com.