Autumn is slowly but surely coming our way

Make sure you enter the new season comfortably.

No doubt, you can do this by wearing our large, cosy and soft Lily scarves. 100% luxuary extra fine merino wool yarn is handwoven by underpriviliged but strong women out of Ranchi, India in 7,5 hourses into your warmest scarf ever! Because of keeping you warm. But also, because of your impact by buying this scarf on the life of a poor Indian woman earning a fair wage by handcrafting your scarf.

Discover the new ‘Bombyx, tales of India’ scarves in warm colourful vintage or more temperate colours.

Interested in this collection (wholesale) or inspired and eager to see your own designs developed: contact inge@solidinternational.be.

Meet the crew: Mercy

Mercy started with Hadithi Crafts in 2016 and she has been at the heart of Hadithi since then. She helped Hadithi tirelessly to train ladies on basket weaving and to assist the ladies with the purchases and feedback. As the daughter of a basket weaver in Jora, she knows too well what difference it makes to the women's life as she has seen the impact on her own mothers life. It intrinsically motivates her to always push a bit further and make more happen. Hadithi worked with 600 ladies in 2016. Hadithi is working with 1350 ladies in 2019! In 2016 Mercy was Hadithi's only employee, now they are a team of five people :):) Mercy is out most days to the women groups and that's what she loves most. She loves to emancipate and handles everyone with care and patience.  

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“I come from a humble family. I am the second youngest out of eight children, and I will be 33 years old in December. My mum is Fridah Marigo, and she is a basket weaver in the Jora group. She supported me with pocket money when I was in college, so that I now have a diploma in community development.

 I joined Hadithi in 2016, since then I have learnt so many things that make my work easier today. Before I used to think working with all these ladies was very difficult, but now I have come to understand them and they understand me too—we respect each other as well as the team in the office. I am so grateful to Lore, my mentor, and the passion and energy with which she worked with us ladies. She gave me the motivation to do the same in order to reach our goals. Lore is the best, and she is a huge inspiration to me.

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 I am the team leader and love working as a team. As Community Liaison Officer I oversee the 43 groups of women we have and make sure they get the materials needed and get all the trainings required. I help with registration of new groups to Hadithi as well as social services. I make sure the ladies are updated on the trendy colors and designs. I instruct them on colors and color combinations, as well as basket quality check. Last year we worked hard on sustainable colouring and we are using new color charts and combinations for our trainings. I also make sure we don't run out of stock.

 For eight hours every day I work at Hadithi, reporting to the office at eight o'clock in the morning—but because I am an early bird I come to work at 7:30. I love working for Hadithi and I love my job.”

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 o    You can wake me up for ... anything to do with my family members. I adore them.

o   My guilty pleasure is... buying take away food because I am too lazy to cook sometimes.

o   What you didn’t know about me is...that I am passionate about my job, humble and easy to work with.

o   How I see myself in 10 years...Mmmmmh i see myself in a family, Hadithi will be bigger, my life will change to better and my savings will help me invest in building a unique, best and leading primary academy school in Maungu.

o   This is Solid for me in 3 words: Solid is super!

o   When I was younger I wanted to be a... teacher.

o   The best movie I’ve ever seen is ...’ Fast and furious’. I love watching it because I love cars.

o   I really don’t like...gossip and time wasting.

o   My favourite quote is:’ “ I am not perfect but I strive everyday to become the best person I can be!’’

o   I spend most of my money on...parents and siblings and rent.

o   I can’t get this song out of my head.:’ “Because He lives I can face tomorrow” by Kristin.

o   I prefer to wear...jeans and t-shirt.

o   I really can’t live without... God.

o   My favourite meal is...potato fries.

o   My favourite website is...the Hadithi one.

o    ‘The colour of my toothbrush is.. white :)

o   My most embarrassing moment ever was... In college when I was forced to leave my classroom for school fees. I felt so bad that I will not allow my children to go through the same in the future.

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Meet the client: Ida & Volta

Fashion is political: Learn more about Ida & Volta’s mission to save the world through fashion.

 

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Behind Ida & Volta are Johanna Adriaens and Laure Persyn, whose love for fashion and dedication to sustainability and fairness have resulted in a transparent fashion brand. These girls are creative and talented, but also incredibly aware of the political act of fashion in our world—buying from a brand means buying into a future, and in order to be a positive change in this busy industry Johanna and Laure have created six principles to work from. Meet the girls, the brand and learn about the values and drive behind Ida & Volta.

 

>We are Ida & Volta.

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Behind the brand are Johanna Adriaens and Laure Persyn. Neither of us come from a fashion background. Johanna studied Cultural Studies and I studied European Politics. We lived in the same town but didn't know each other. It is only a couple years after finishing university that we met each other when we decided to take a course in Brussels on pattern making and fashion design. We started chatting on the train and stayed friends ever since. Johanna lives in Gent where she has her atelier, and I live most of the year off-grid in Portugal.

 

 

>Could you describe your vision and purpose behind the brand?

Ida & Volta is a Belgian fashion label that offers ethically responsible luxury. We design timeless, unique clothing that exudes a nonchalant elegance. Ida & Volta puts a respectful collaboration with people, animals and the planet first. We believe that a positive creative process translates into a more beautiful and valuable product that offers beauty and comfort when worn. Our creations are made from biodegradable, renewable, recycled and upcycled materials.

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Ida & Volta is about 'more than just clothes'. With our project we want to offer a platform for reflection and research on sustainable and ethical production methods. It is also a meeting place for designers, artists and experts to share knowledge and experiences and to set up new collaborations. Through our blog we would like to include the customer in our search for a meaningful way of creating in a time of material abundance and superficiality.

 

Ida & Volta uses these six principles:

·       Slow fashion

·       Traceable resources

·       Transparency

·       Animal wells

·       Fair trade

·       Minimal ecological impact


>What were you doing before you founded Ida & Volta?

Johanna tailormade clothes for private clients and worked in a fabric store. I worked for Fedasil in Brussels (Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers).


>When did you first become interested in sustainability?

We always had been astonished at the way people treat and work with animals as if they are no more but a tools at our disposal. So animal welfare was something we both were mindful of since childhood. As for the other components of sustainability, we got inspired to think about this through people around us who were very passionate about it, this would have been somewhere after finishing college so in our mid-twenties.


>What has your journey been like as a sustainable designer?

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It has been, and will remain, a steep learning curve for us. Establishing our own brand and acknowledging that we were going to be bringing new creations into this world, really forced us to articulate what our core values are. The last thing we wanted was to spend our time adding more meaningless stuff to a world that is overflown with waste. We wanted to prove to ourselves and others that it IS possible to make beautiful things that have a positive impact on the makers, the people who buy and use the product, as well as the environment and animals that support us in this process. Thinking about these things our priorities became clear and it brought our values into focus, which was an enriching experience. 


>What's your typical day like?

We don't really have a typical day. There's one constant: Johanna is a night owl and I'm an early bird. So there's only a couple hours a day where we are both in a productive state at the same time, we try to take full advantage of that window of opportunity.


>What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Don't be shy about what you believe in. 


>What are your thoughts on today's fashion cycle?

First, the last decades we have come to believe that clothing is a product that ought to be cheap, and ought to be something we can all easily purchase whenever we feel like it. As a result we are careless with clothes, and we don't stop to think about them; do we really like the design, does it fit my personality, I wonder who made it, where did the wool come from? Let's be clear: it is simply not possible to make ethically responsible clothes at dumping prices, nor should that be the goal of the industry, and I feel that both industry and consumers are still unwilling to accept this. They want sustainable clothes at the same prices, but to that end corners WILL be cut and people, animals and nature WILL be the collateral damage. Another side effect of this fast, cheap fashion is that clothes often completely lost their soul and have become meaningless products.

 
>How do you believe the fast fashion industry can begin to fix itself?

As long as there are no global, binding political agreements to enforce fair and environmentally friendly practices it is up to each individual to decide for themselves what kind of business they want to create. Where do you want to put your energy? What do you want to put into this world? Fortunately more and more designers are thinking about these things and creating a positive example of how positive change can be made.


>What brands do you look up to?

From a sustainability standpoint the concepts of brands like LN Knits, Eileen Fisher and Asket are interesting. Sydney Brown is a pretty amazing sustainable brand! From a purely esthetical point of view we love everything that comes out of The Row.


>What advice do you have for other designers interested in sustainability?

Be curious about your product. Look deeply into the raw materials and resources that you use, because they touched other people’s lives before getting to you. Don't forget that as a designer you are but one link in a long chain that will result in your beautiful design. Unfortunately the fashion industry and social media put ALL the focus on the designers or the models wearing the designs, completely ignoring the fact that they are but a small parts of the production chain. Think critically, be bold and think about money not only as a means to provide a living for yourself, but also as a way to contribute to positive change.


>And now for some fun stuff. If you weren't a designer, what would you be?

Johanna would be a secluded artist making crazy paintings in her basement at night and be a professional haircolorist by day. Laure would be (and might still become) a sheep herder.

 


>Who would you love to see wearing Ida & Volta?

Never really thought about that one... Lara Chedraoui and Dalila Hermans come to mind.

Emma Watson would also look pretty good in our stuff.


>Where do you like to shop?

Second hand and at "In Level 5" in Leuven. We love the shop’s holistic approach and their owners are really lovely people. They have our entire collection in store and love to tell our story to their customers.


>What is your most favorite thing to wear?

Baggy pants and oversized second hand men’s shirts.


>How do you wear your values?

Proudly!


>How can we, as individuals, help support the growth of a better way of doing a business? What kind of impact can we have as individuals and as communities?

Every person has the freedom to choose how to treat other people, animals and the nature around them—this extends to the freedom to choose where to put your money. Money has generally gotten this bad rep, but we forget that money can also be used as fuel for creating and supporting the good. So that's something we can do: think about what you put your money towards and if you feel good about it. Educate yourself and inform others, but don't be too hard on yourself or others, it's not a competition. Let's all try to do what we can to make small but significant changes that make you feel good.

> What convinced you to choose Solid?

The personality of the company: Solid put effort into a personal relationship with us, listened to our needs and ideas and answered all our questions honestly. Because Solid is intensively present on site, we can be confident that everything is done correctly and Solid clearly has a strong passion for what they do.

 

> Do you have your own favourite from the collection?

The oversized long shirt from assam eri peace silk "Cocoon shirtdress" is our top favourite!

 

> What inspires you?

People who dare to say what they stand for. And humor.

 

> What is the meaning behind your label’s name?

Ida & Volta in Portuguese means "back and forth". The name symbolises our holistic vision of a circular creation process. We believe that we should go back to the "roots" of the creation process (raw material, farmers, animals, keeping heritage crafts alive...) to inspire sustainable change towards the future.  Why Portuguese? Laure has recently moved to Portugal and Johanna has an emotional bond with Brazil.

 

> What is your specific approach or concept?

We work exclusively with material that we can trace 100% back to its origin, i.e. the plant/farmer/animal that provides us with the valuable raw material... This is the only way to ensure that our principles such as animal welfare, fair price and respect for people and the environment have been respected. And it is the prerequisite for an ethical product and structural change.

 

Furthermore, our policy of 100% is quite unique: we make a point of proactively explaining where the raw material comes from, why we make or don't make certain choices, etc. In the future, we would even like to make a kind of price breakdown, because our customers are welcome to know how the price of their garment comes about.

 

> What idea do you start from?

Fashion is not only the story of self-expression, fantasy, creativity and beauty, it is also the story of soil, farmers, water and animals. Fashion is political.

 

> What drives you?

Producing ethically responsible clothes is fully feasible and has an impact on many levels. Just like the food on our plates, it is important that we get to know where it comes from, who worked for it and what the impact is on people and the environment. All our choices and actions have consequences, you can see that as a burden, or you can see it as an opportunity.        

 

> What do you hope to share with those who purchase your garments and bring it intimately into their lives?  

Something that is made with respect for all those involved translates into true elegance. We hope people are proud to wear what we made for them. We hope to inspire them to express their thruth, in this case through the clothes they choose to wear on their bodies.

 

Buy their beautiful pieces at inLevel5 Leuven or online at www.idavolta.eu/shop

https://www.instagram.com/idavoltalabel/

With a little help from a friend

High up in Ayacucho in the Andes of Southern Peru, many projects of Solid Social Peru take place. Recently, Solid Peru worked together with the Sacsara Rupay family; social workers visited Amanda (25) and Nelson (30).

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At the time, the family was going through turmoil. Having to cope with relationship problems and a lack of technology, their daily life was harsh. Their income came from stitching, while Nelson also worked as a temporary day labourer with little job security. Together, they could make around 120 sol per month, which equals to a little over 30 Euros. To get by, they also cultivate a small farm for personal consumption.

They cooked at an open fire on the ground inside their house, so they were living with the smoke, which is toxic and hazardous for the respiratory system. They also had no place for cutlery, cooking tools spread around on the ground.

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Amanda did not feel supported by Nelson. Their respective roles in their relationship were undefined, leading to occasional friction. By using videos, posters and individualized help, counsellors from Solid were able to create an open environment to discuss these ideas. It was the first time the family had the opportunity to assess subjects such as emotions, self-respect and mutual understanding. By openly participating in conversations with the counsellors, they realised the importance of support and appreciation for each other. Today, they are working actively towards improving their home. Doing so together.

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With the help of Solid, combined with their own intense efforts, the family has been able to improve their circumstances. Now they have a functional kitchen with storage for cutlery and dishes, as well as a table and sink. Their access to water has also improved, making healthy cooking, as well as basic hygiene, easier to maintain. Their focus on self-sustainability was already there, they just needed a little outside help in order to realise it.

With even a small donation, you can help us creating a brighter future for couples like Amanda and Nelson.

Donations on this account are tax-deductible. 40 % of the donated amount can be recuperated. For more information: contact Inge Overmeer on Inge@solidinternational.be

Banque de la Poste

Rue des colonies (P28)

1000 Brussels

Belgium

Rekeningnummer: 000-0000004-04

IBAN: BE10 0000 0000 0404

BIC: BPOTBEB1

Shashi, our future master weaver

"When I started working at Paces Crafts, I did not have any clue about weaving. I asked the master weavers how they were able to weave so nicely and without any problems as I found it very difficult. Someone told me that I would never be able to weave like them because I am a woman. I took his words as a challenge. I worked very hard to become the weaver I am today.

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With each product I make, I strive for perfection. Some say I am the second Latif (Current Master weaver) in terms of weaving since there is very little difference in the quality of the products we both make. This makes me very proud."

My credo:

Conservative ideas, Limiting beliefs

Believe in yourself, not in what you are told

Determination

Meet our colleague Rosalvina who's been with Solid Peru since 2009

I am Rosalvina Vilchez Aramburú, and I am 51 years old. I am an obstetrician by profession. I have a daughter, Ximena, and I live in Ayacucho. I worked for Solid Peru since 2009, something I am very proud of.

I am a very happy, kind and hardworking person. When I am at home I enjoy cooking for my family. Because of my work I often spend time away from home, and so during the days I spend with my family I am a conceited mother.

I am responsible for two of Solid’s social projects in the rural area of Ayacucho: the education project for the youth in the Andean mountains, the Jovem Project, and the Healthy Families Project working with poor families.

Get to know me: lightning round:

You can wake me up to: travel, sing and dance

My guilty pleasure is: chocolate

A weird fact about me: I like to dance at the carnaval, every year for four days, without getting tired

A fact you didn’t know about me: I snore when I sleep

How I see myself in 10 years: probably resting hahaha. No, I don't think so, this would be impossible because I'm a person who likes to be active

This is Solid for me in 3 words: very big opportunities

When I was young I wanted to be a: pharmacist… But I couldn’t do it because there was not such a degree at the University of Huamanga. I ended up studying Obstetrics just like my older sister

The best movie I have ever seen: De La Calle a Harvard

I can recommend this book to anyone: Your Erroneous Zones – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

I really don’t like: to iron my clothes

My favourite quote is: believe in yourself

I can’t take this song out of my mind: Vivir mi vida – Marc Antony

I prefer wearing: active clothes

My favourite food is: chicharrones

My favourite website is: Pinterest

The color of my toothbrush is: pink

My most embarrassing moment was: when I fell down on the ground, because I was eating tacos

Devora, 15 years old

Devora lived with her partner and daughter. As a child, she grew up without parents: her mother died when she was little, and her father moved in with his new wife, without taking interest in Devora.

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Devora was mistreated by her partner’s family. She decided to rent a room. As a young, single woman, paying rent and caring for her daughter was difficult. Out of necessity, she returned to her partner, where the abuse resumed. When she filed a complaint, Devora ended up out on the streets.

Devora and her daughter currently reside in a centre for victims of domestic abuse. Her wish is to become independent and continue her studies in becoming a nurse. This will allow her to take care of her daughter.

With a monthly donation of 100 euros, Devora could support both her daughter and her studies. Every two weeks, a Solid-counsellor will support her in developing herself as both adolescent and mother. Independent, so her child can grow up in a positive environment without violence.

Donations on this account, with the reference ‘TGE – Solid – Devora’, are tax-deductible. 40 % of the donated amount can be recuperated. For more information: contact Inge Overmeer on Inge@solidinternational.be

Banque de la Poste
Rue des colonies (P28)
1000 Brussels
Belgium
Rekeningnummer: 000-0000004-04
IBAN: BE10 0000 0000 0404
BIC: BPOTBEB1

Jacki & Joel: entrepreneurial brother & sister

Joel and Yaki Anccasi Lopez have been growing roses in a greenhouse since October. They started producing rose patterns, and they bought materials such as rolls and sticks to build the greenhouse. They build it themselves with the help of their father, using local materials.

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The roses grow well. A short time ago they did grafting and installed a drip irrigation system. Joel and Yaki, who both were students at Solid’s Jovem project are very pleased with their enterprise. Yaki tells us that she leaves her classmates at the university every weekend with the following words: “I go back to my village to take care of the roses in my greenhouse.” The classmates are always impressed and full of admiration. When they ask her how she managed to start her own business, she proudly tells them about the Jovem project.


At the start of Joel’s classes, he also speaks to his classmates about Jovem, so that maybe they also can benefit from the project. “I am very happy to be part of the Jovem project with my company, and to have found people—like Rosa and José from Solid—who advise and assist me. Now I have to be patient and wait for my roses to grow and bloom. I am also grateful to my parents for their great support and cooperation. My father, for example, constructed the greenhouse himself with local materials. My village lies in the district of Vinchos, far away from Allpachaka, but even so, the news about my rose plantation has made it all the way there. Everybody wonders how I started this project, so I tell them all about the Jovem-project of Solid.”

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In April Joel and Yaki grafted 4000 rose plants. They got help from their fellow college students, who were very impressed and asked if they could be part of the Jovem project as well. Joel and Yaki have invested a lot in the greenhouse—now they are paying back the starting loan that they got from Solid. Their company will surely be successful.

#Jovem #Solid #Peru #ayacucho #entrepreneurship #letsrisebyliftingothers

Meet the sponsors Patrick, Cyrielle & Cédric Bouwen

Sharing is a moral duty’

Coffee and cake

Patrick Bouwen, a lawyer by profession in a previous professional life, has, as it were, rolled into the real estate and project development sector.

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In 2000 group Bouwen emerged in Lier as a new player in the project development market. At first Patrick didn’t have the ambition to start a family business. “With family you eat your breakfast pastries, you go for brunch, you keep it cosy and you definitely stay away from the business world” he says laughing. That turned out a bit different. Cousin Kim entered the company soon and in the meantime his daughter Cyrielle became his right hand in the well-oiled family concern. During the interview we notice soon that the atmosphere in the family is still great and that doing business together suits them well. Daughter Cyrielle can only assent to this. “I have always been interested in real estate and the move to the family business was a very obvious choice for me. It’s a super fascinating job and it never gets boring.”

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Love brought Patrick from Lier to Brussels and he never left. He commutes daily between Brussels and Lier and he has to use his scarce time smart. He succeeds well in this and of course it helps that the other employees do live in a radius of 10 kilometres. “I often come to work on a quiet Saturday in my office in Lier, I love to have all the space for myself then. But I also look forward to the visits of my grandson, often he comes to say hello at the company after day-care. From my office we enjoy the beautiful view of the horse pasture across the street.”

Socially relevant

Patrick started very small, as an investor with a few apartment blocks in Kessel. The projects have meanwhile been scaled up enormously and business is going well. There are concrete plans for the development of a new business site at the former site of Gazet van Antwerpen. A furniture boulevard in Londerzeel and a few luxury apartments at a top location in Ixelles will soon also be part of the Bouwen group's list of achievements. This latter real estate project took him some guts and perseverance because there were several competitors in the field.

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On the other hand he insists on keeping the company ‘small’ as in a brief decision grid, with space for lots of creativity and participation. “I love brainstorm with my loyal team about projects and buildings that are timeless and functional. I also want to give something back to society. For example, a large auditorium will be provided on the new business site on the left bank that can serve as a theatre after office hours. This has become really scarce in Antwerp”, he explains. “A project is only successful if my team of co-workers and I have the feeling that we want to live or work there ourselves.”

Nomen est omen

The Bouwen Group has been one of Solid's most important sponsors for years. “I already knew Inge from before. For me it has always been evident as an entrepreneur to give something back to society. Sharing is a moral duty."

Patrick didn’t doubt long when Inge showed him the building plans for a cheese factory in the Montefino cow-shed of Solid in Ayacucho, Peru. “This project fits perfectly within our business philosophy, building to create something socially relevant and functional, Nomen est omen. It was also nice that my son Cédric was invited by Solid to follow the construction on site. In this way we immediately had live coverage from Peru.”

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Peruavian height

That latest visit to the construction site in Peru worked out slightly different, says son Cédrich laughing: “The building of the cheese factory suffered a huge delay. Construction in the middle of the Ayacuchan mountains at an altitude of 4000 metres is not obvious. Turns out that the drying time of the screed doubles at this altitude. Because I hate being inactive, I rolled up my sleeves and helped in the cow-shed. It was nice to be able to do something for the locals.” All of this within not so obvious living conditions, due to a changing climate and fierce temperature fluctuations during the day and night. In addition to his operational work in the cow-shed, Cédric also helped with administrative and financial assistance by a.o. setting up a marketing campaign and logistics system. Son Cédric soon won the trust and unconditional friendship of the local farmers. Meanwhile, he has a godchild there, a namesake Cedrik, this is the son of Edgar, the person in charge of the cow-shed.

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Daughter Cyrielle stood 100% behind this project of course. “We sucked the generosity and engagement of my dad in with our mother’s milk. You can’t take anything for granted, we are very privileged, we can study, travel, be in good health and therefore it is only normal to help others”, she explains. It is clear that father Patrick prefers to give than to receive. “I had the honour to go on an audience with the Pope, together with my wife and the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was quite an adventure, full of protocol rules, but the Pope was very enthusiastic about the idea of the Peruvian project that we supported through Solid and could only encourage this.” Was it the Pope's South American roots, or the charms of Patrick's wife, we’ll never know, but they did leave Vatican City with a blessed llama and medal which they donated through son Cédric to the very Catholic Peruvian farmers.

Active development aid

“I like working with Solid because a very nice, open and constructive way of collaboration. The support of the project on site has been developed very intuitive. I also absolutely believe in active development aid. Solid gives the local community the opportunity to build beautiful projects themselves. We, group Bouwen, love to sponsor this kind of projects where the self-reliance of the sponsored people is encouraged.”

You also notice that the Peruvian project is cherished in the family business and that the project is not only supported by Patrick and his son Cédric, but by the whole company. Through the website and internal reporting, colleagues from group Bouwen follow up the activities on site. It’s also a very tangible and rewarding project. Meanwhile, the first anniversary of the cheese factory was celebrated in Peru at the beginning of March of this year. This project allows the production of cheese, yogurt, manjar (cf. Biscoff Cookie Spread, but completely different) at the shed itself. This allows the shed to grow into a truly integrated farm, where the milk is immediately transformed into finished products.

Training centre

Patrick is clearly very curious about the following plans. He plans a big trip to Peru with his wife and family in 2020. Then he can immediately get acquainted with the further building plans for the shed and the cheese factory on site. Now, Solid likes to offer the local community a training centre and auditory, at the moment the capacity is too limited and the demand for training is high. The capacity of the training center can be expanded through the new building project and more new farmers can be trained. There are also a few conversations with "Via Via" Peru to promote Montefino via the local agritourism, which can mean additional income for the local community.

The building permit is almost complete and in the school year 2020-2021 they hope to get started. Now all that rests is finding the necessary sponsors!

A few days after the interview group Bouwen confirmed to Solid the sponsoring of the new project and thus it look like the deadline 2020-2021 will be met! Thank you very much on behalf of the entire Solid team!

Carmen, 18 years old, and her baby fighting for a better future

"My name is Carmen Sarita Borda Silva, I'm 18 years old. I got involved with SOLID when I was 5 months pregnant. Before then, I felt very sad, alone, abandoned, I had no one to talk to, no one to advise me, and my daughter's father had abandoned me at that time. I got to know SOLID, in the moments that I needed it the most, the mentors began to visit me, to talk to me about my rights and those of my daughter.

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I began with a report to my daughter's father to pay support. Now I am studying gastronomy in the morning and in the afternoon I occasionally work to have an economic income. Now I feel very happy and content with the support that SOLID gives me because they taught me to move forward and not to fall behind. I thank them for having helped me during my most difficult time”.

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#letsrisebyliftingothers #solid #empowerment #peru #ayacucho #teenagemom #strength #girlsleadingourworld

Meet the maker – Sisilya Tuti

Sisiliya is 36 years old. She lives with her mother, brother and sister-in-law in Rampur. Her father died in an accident 20 years ago. They had hard times. Her mother went to work in a brick factory in Ranchi and she also did jobs in construction so at least her brother could finish his studies and get a good job. Now her brother has a job in the army and is staying for some months in Jammu, Kashmir.

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Sisilya “Before joining Solids workshop Paces Crafts my main occupation was working on the rice fields of my family and helping my mother in the household. I am not educated well since I only went to school till the 8the grade. For this reason I knew I would not get a job anywhere and the agriculture job was very hard. I was wondering if I would ever be able to earn a proper income for myself. Then I heard about the workshop Paces Crafts and got curious about the skills that where taught in this place. When I started I didn’t even know how to hold a needle, but with time and effort I learned how to knit. This job made me independent. The first salary I got was used to pay the construction workers at my home. I feel very proud about the new skills I learned and that thanks to them I can support my family with the wage I receive. Once my mother told me “you are like a son to me” because I take care of the family with my earnings like normally sons do. This moment made me very happy and proud. 

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'I'm so happy to work at Paces Crafts. I was so convinced that I would never have a fine job as I didn't finish my studies. I really believed this! Now I have a job and I'm so proud of it. I never expected this to happen in my life! »


#From difficulties to hope

#Learning new skills

#Contributing/supporting family

#Getting recognition from family

Meet the Crew – Tausif of Paces Crafts

Tausif is the most senior employee of Paces Crafts, our workshop in India. He was there from the beginning and has helped us to make us grow to the company Paces is today. He mainly takes care of the finances and logistics of the company, but his contribution goes way beyond that. We know him as a very curious person who is eager to learn and grow. He keeps on surprising us with his poetic one-liners. And he is a star in giving spontaneous educational lectures to his colleagues. We really appreciate the joy, humour and happiness he brings to our office. And we love his Bollywood moves when we go dancing.

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“Hi, I am Tausif Ansari and I am working in Paces Crafts for 4 years now. I have always believed in equality and when I was asked to join the company, I was very intrigued by the moto of the company. In the beginning I had so many questions about running a social company. I kept on asking and from a very early stage I understood that at Paces Crafts everybody would be treated equally. No matter which function, religion, caste or gender, at Paces Crafts everyone gets equal respect and opportunities. I feel very happy I can work for a company where I can stay true to my values and where we work for a good cause.

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I really learned a lot here about running a company and I keep on learning every day so I can become a master in Import and Export. I also really enjoy improving my communication skills. 

 

Being connected to the people of Paces Crafts makes working here nice. I see a big bright future for the artisans and for the company. We are about to expand and I am ready to work for it.”

 

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Some  short questions & answers by Tausif

You can always wake me up for … an adventure trip

How I see myself in 10 years? As a Master in export/import. And a good team leader.

When I was younger I wanted to be an international Football player.

The best movie I’ve ever seen is: The fault in ours stars

I can recommend this book to anyone: “Shayad” by Jaun Elia

I really don’t like: The word “whatever”

My favourite quote is “If nothings goes right, go left”

I spend most of my money on my Sister’s study

I prefer to wear half pants

I really can’t live without: Work

My favourite meal is Kabab. With salads.

My favourite website is: www.youtube.com

World Indigenous People Day

Indigenous people today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, their way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

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At Paces Crafts – Solids workshop in India - we really appreciate the indigenous identity of our artisans and their communities. We believe that there is so much to learn from their culture and knowledge. Their perspectives on living together and using resources sustainably for example are truly inspiring. Co-creating a social company here with the adivasi’s (local tribal people) of Jharkhand has been a wonderful experience. On this “world day of indigenous people’ we invite you to celebrate Adivasi culture together with us …. Let’s Dance!

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#IndigenousPeopleDay #Adivasi #Jharkhand #India #NagpuriDancing #CelebratingCulture #Indegenousday #PacesCrafts #SocialEnterprise #Diversity #Inclusion #LetsDance#letsrisebyliftingothers#SolidCrafts

The dream of Maria Elena Quispe Huamán

At Jovem, our project for youngsters, we try to encourage entrepreneurship. The dream of Maria Elena Quispe Huamán is to start a chicken farm in Huamanga, she’d working hard to succeed and we are really proud of her Jovem tries to support students in self growth and development outside city regions and to discover possibilities on the country side.

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Photo (c) Sunniva Midtskogen

Client A.S. Adventure visiting Hadithi in Kenia

Behind Ayacucho ®, A.S. Adventure's own brand, lies a warm story: for every Ayacucho jacket, jumper or hat you buy, part of the money goes to Solid. As Solid has had a very close collaboration with Hadithi in Kenya for some years now, part of A.S. Adventure’s support goes to Hadithi via Solid.

In October 2018, A.S. Adventure travelled to Kenya to see the Ayacucho ®–Solid–Hadithi collaboration on location and to visit the various projects. They got to see with their own eyes whether the money of every Ayacucho ® client really makes a difference in Kenya… and it does!

Read the full article about the A.S Adventure–Solid–Hadithi collaboration (available in Dutch and French).


Interested in the gorgeous baskets (wholesale)? Contact Solid Crafts: inge@solidinternational.be or call us at 0032 473 93 76 19

World Day against Trafficking in Persons

With Paces Crafts – Solids workshop in India - we offer these vulnerable women and girls a sustained source of income close to their homes so that they do not have to leave their families and land behind in order to survive.
Our workshop is located in Jharkhand, a state that has emerged as a hunting ground for human traffickers.The main root causes that influence these victims to migrate are unemployment, economic inequality, illiteracy and weak family structures.
The traffickers take advantage of their despair and lure them by promising them a better life in the big cities. In reality they often end up in forced labour or slavery and many victims are subject to various forms of abuse.

Today, on world day against trafficking we want to raise awareness on this worldwide crime. As we believe that everyone on this planet should have the right to live in freedom and security and that no one should be subject to inhumane crimes like this. We at Solid Crafts at least will never accept this cruelty against mankind.

#EndHumanTrafficking #BlueHaertCampaign #Trafficking #Jharkhand #PacesCrafts #socialEnterprise #humanrights #empowerment #letsrisebyliftingothers #worlddayagainsttraffickinginpersons

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How to volunteer abroad... if you ask Iris & Dave, who volunteered with Solid in Ayacucho, Peru

Iris and Dave is an enthusiastic, open-minded, sportif couple. 40-and a bit years old from Antwerp, Belgium. Besides working in engineering and corporate social responsibility, they’re most of the time enjoying the good life, with fine food and drinks, together with family and friends or just the 2 of them. Oh yeah, and you will often see them riding a bicycle (normal, race, foldable or travel edition)! They both work better with deadlines. So understanding in their early 40’ies that life is not unlimited, they thought it’s time to realize our dreams.

So, they did! And left in July ’18 to start their world travel on their bike!

They’re looking forward to travel slow, to push ourselves beyond the comfortable known, and to learn more about life from all the people they will meet on their way. On this way – almost the last stop in their amazing bike-world-travel – they volunteered with Solid in Peru. You can read some of their thoughts below. Thanks Iris & Dave for stopping by and spending your valuable time with us. You were great!


 How to volunteer abroad (if you ask us) – by Iris & Dave, who volunteered with Solid in Ayacucho, Peru

25 JUL 2019

The moment we made the decision to take this gap year, we also decided we wanted to do some volunteering while at it. Since we gave ourselves the gift of all this time off, it just felt right to not only be on a very long holiday. We wanted to give something back to society, and since we were travelling, it would be somewhere out in the world.

It has not been an easy search, but gave us some insights about international voluntourism…

– by volunteering you get the chance to connect differently with the local people, like this lovely lady Noémie from the poor Socos region, who proudly showed us her new kitchen she managed to build thanks to the work of the NGO Solid. –

– by volunteering you get the chance to connect differently with the local people, like this lovely lady Noémie from the poor Socos region, who proudly showed us her new kitchen she managed to build thanks to the work of the NGO Solid. –

Commercialisation

When first searching online for a nice place to volunteer, we ended up on too many goodlooking and shiny websites that smelled like too much of the budget went into the marketing. Adding a pop-up to your website ‘how can I help’ doesn’t feel like you’re helping the right audience. Shouldn’t your focus be somewhere in the South instead of commercialising voluntourism in the West?

These organisations make a whole industry of volunteering, hence have more interest in keeping their projects ‘in need’. If all poor kids in Asia learned how to read and speak English, what would be left to make money of, right?

– city people on a quinoa farm, not exactly our ‘field’ of experience –

– city people on a quinoa farm, not exactly our ‘field’ of experience –

The fees they ask for volunteering abroad are extremely high as well. I think there’s nothing wrong with sharing some of what you have with people who have a hard time. But as with many things in life, money should be used as efficient and effective as possible, reaching the right people and projects and not ending up in expensive overhead costs or unnecessary expenses.

So our online search didn’t really get us where we wanted to be.

Figuring out what exactly we can do?

Why teach English classes if we’re not even a teacher. Or work on a biological farm while at home we have a hard time keeping our plants alive. We’re really not better at it than local people, so why would we do that?

In many occasions, volunteering abroad is taking a local’s job. We’ve often seen western students working in hostels as volunteers, in order to make their travel more affordable. But this actually is cheap labour for the hostel owner and taking away job opportunities for the locals. Not exactly what it should be about.

Over the last weeks, we also met a lot of competent people in the workplace. Unless you’re an specialist in a very specific domain perhaps, we shouldn’t think we know any better, but leave the local people the chance to take up responsabilities in their own countries. Sharing experiences and ways of thinking is always worthwhile, both ways. But thinking we know better than the people in the South only makes us very arrogant. Not the best attitide for any volunteer.

So let’s support in ‘our’ way

After working for almost 20 years, it sounded logic to us that we did something with that work experience. And that we could do something together.

So why not combine ourselves temporarily into a QHSE team (Quality, Health, Safety and Environment > often combined together into one person or department within companies, or outsourced) and offer this to a local NGO? These are domains that are rarely in the core activities of a business. And as it’s not very likely any NGO would pay expensive externals, we could be ‘free’ consultants.

And what NGO you want to volunteer for?

It’s amazing how many organisations, small or big, are helping the people in the South. We’ve discovered loads of them over the last year. Whether they’re working on health related topics, schooling or poverty, focussing on kids, women or disabled, giving psychological support or jobs, very hands-on or working to improve local laws and regulations, … there’s a lot going on. Luckily, as it’s still very needed.

We looked for an NGO we connected with.

So we contacted Solid : an NGO with roots in Belgium, that works in domains we find interesting: social entrepreneurship, handicrafts and quinoa!

– These ladies at the Solid social enterprise knit blindly the most beautiful scarfs from baby alpaca yarn. First they were a little shy, but soon they loosened up and talked slowly enough so I could understand. –

– These ladies at the Solid social enterprise knit blindly the most beautiful scarfs from baby alpaca yarn. First they were a little shy, but soon they loosened up and talked slowly enough so I could understand. –

We suggested a QHSE audit of their projects in Ayacucho, Peru.

And they accepted.

And here we are

– checking on animal welfare on the Montefino farm, another project from Solid –

– checking on animal welfare on the Montefino farm, another project from Solid –

Over the last weeks, we’ve done similar things to what we’ve done at home. But in a completely new environment. Nothing commercial about it, just genuinely helping an organisation that is working on improving peoples lifes in a poor region in Peru. With what we have on offer: reporting our observations and sharing our experience to improve the safety, quality and sustainability of their operations. Which they can take or leave, at their own time. Without paying nor getting money in return. Without taking the job of a local person. Without thinking we can change the world, but by planting some seeds that may help taking small steps forward.

It felt right. And we hope they learned as much from the exchange as we did.

————-

PS: some thoughts of other volunteers that inspired us along the way:

– An article of a girl who simply regretted volunteering (the internet is full of these kind of experiences).

https://www.alldayeverydaisy.com/india/why-i-regret-my-volunteer-work-in-india/?lang=en

– A film of a guy who will maybe inspire you to go volunteer too.

https://pc.tedcdn.com/talk/podcast/2011U/None/MarkBezos_2011U-480p.mp4

 

 https://midlifetrip.blog/

 

Did you know… Paces Crafts 2.0 in Ranchi, India 

Did you know…

Paces Crafts 2.0 in Ranchi, India 

-   An important grant 'Business Partnership Facility: Enterprises for Sustainable Development Goals' from the belgian government development cooperation has been awarded to Solid Crafts for our atelier Paces Crafts in India. This allows us to substantially expand our workshop. And as such, give more women a good job and a better future. Paces Crafts 2.0, here we come!

-   Also fitting in this Paces 2.0-story, is the transport of handlooms to Ranchi, India. In an unbelievable and almost fairytale-like way, old, but never used, and excellent handlooms have fallen into our hands, like manna from heaven. This really means an incredible boost for the necessary expansion of our workshop. At the moment the containers are still in Belgium, but already filled and therefore ready for shipment. This will happen on short notice.

-   Related with this, a move to Namkum in a building of the Jesuits is foreseen. However, still waiting for the final confirmation.

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Some new people are reinforcing recently the Solid team in Belgium.

Some new people are reinforcing recently the Solid team in Belgium.

-   Wim Depickere, a young and motivated guy with a lot of financial background and hands-on attitude is every Thursday very busy with all the financial topics and arrangements of Solid. Let’s say he is our brand-new CFO.

-   After many years working as a volunteer for Solid, Tim Borremans joined the team 2 days a week as graphic designer, which he has been doing before for big and famous communication agencies.

-   For some of you, the name of ‘Joris Smets’ sounds familiar. Indeed, it is! Joris has been working as general manager for Solid in Ayacucho, Peru some years ago. After doing some other activities, he came back again to Solid – once Solid is in your blood, it never leaves you J - as the fresh new sales manager for Solid Food. The Solid-circle is closed for Joris.

-   Solid Crafts proudly presents you a new general manager: Emiel Debaere. After a long international career in the textile and clothing industry, Emiel is determined to bring Solid Crafts to the next level.

-   More new people, thus this implies ‘less Lyn’? On the one hand, Lyn and Solid is like synonyms and a unbreakable link. Lyn will always be involved with Solid. On the other hand, yes, she will be working less for Solid and be a bit less visible. She has all confidence in the actual team and no worries, as said, she will stay the big motivator – inspiration and source of out-of-the-box entrepreneurial ideas. 

This pictures shows everybody working for Solid and Solid Food in Belgium.

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