A former Barron County woman and her husband are helping lift people out of poverty and fight against human trafficking through a nonprofit they created called Global Avenues Ministries.

Carolyn and Dewy Wetherby have seen firsthand the need to provide sustainable income and thus created an avenue for change and transformation for women in India and Nepal.

The former Carolyn Berg of Dallas, a 1971 graduate of Barron High School, still has relatives in the area.  Dewy is originally from St. Paul.

They shared, “After living in India for over 20 years, we said goodbye to our many dear friends there, packed up our flat in New Delhi, and moved back to the United States in June 2012, settling in Oakdale, Minn.

With the help of a Minneapolis-based CPA, the Wetherbys set up an incorporated Christian nonprofit that same year, after observing the need for Christian ministries and organizations to successfully market their products and thus provide sustainable employment and income. It includes a board of directors.

The nonprofit creates global market avenues that support South Asian ministries, missions and non-government organizations, most of which fight against human trafficking and support women at risk.

While creating the nonprofit, the Wetherbys  created a website that includes a catalog, blog and about us page. It can be found at global-avenues.myshopify.com/blogs/news.

Their vision states: “We are utilizing economic activities for kingdom goals of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and setting the oppressed free by engaging a significant number of individuals and churches through the sale of beautiful products produced in South Asia, as well as raising awareness and prayer support for these organizations and ministries.”

The more sales have  grown, the more funds are going directly into the hands of those who created the products.

“We return gift money from our net profits back to the South Asian organizations for them to use in development of their businesses and to bless their employees,” the Wetherbys explained.

The Wetherbys said, “Initially, we returned 25% of our net profits, then we increased to 33%, then 50% and since 2015, we have returned 100% of our net profits as gift money.

“The monies have been used for such things as additional sewing machines, larger and better accommodations for workers, additional training, medical expenses, bonuses at holiday time, and school tuition for their children. Such a delight!”

Organizations in India, Nepal

“We purchase products from 10 organizations in South Asia—seven in India and three in Nepal,” Carolyn explained.  “Nine of these 10 are anti-trafficking endeavors, and the 10th organization employs disabled artisans from India.”

A synopsis of the 10 follows:

• Forever Zoe: This company  that makes aprons, pillows, cosmetic bags and scarves, supports young employees as they develop into strong adults. It prioritizes employment for those who need a protected work place—widows, women with a background in human trafficking and female migrant workers who are otherwise unprotected in New Delhi, the “jungle of the mega city.”

Forever Zoe functions as an extended family, offering a helping hand to the many difficulties lower income families in India face every day by assisting with medical needs and education with a hands-on approach.

• Sari Bari: Every artisan bag is made from vintage, upcycled cotton Indian saris. Each is unique and hand-stitched by women who have gained freedom from the commercial sex trade and marked with their name. Customers who buy a Sari Bari product become a part of the freedom story of the woman who made it. Sari Bari employs 120 women rescued from Kolkata’s redlight district, where women are forced into the flesh trade, not by choice but by circumstance. It plans to increase their workforce to 200 women.

• Love Calcutta Arts: Began out of a desire to bring freedom to women and girls who would otherwise be at risk of abuse, this organization endeavors to redesign their lives with a sense of dignity and self-worth. Well trained and supervised, they produce quality handmade blankets of varying sizes. It has a workforce of more than 55 women.

• Freeset: This organization is in the business of restoring dignity and hope. Making bags and tees is a way for them to regain control of their lives. To friends and neighbors still trapped in the sex trade, these women are a symbol of hope.  It employs more than 225 women rescued from Kolkata’s red-light district.

• Ruhamah Designs and Freedom Firm: Coming from the cities of Ooty, Pune and Kolkata, former victims of sex trafficking make handcrafted jewelry at these  businesses that partner together. It has rescued more than 300 girls from sex trafficking, offering employment as an important step in their healing, independence and wholeness.

• Guardian Village Handcrafts: Located in Kathmandu, GVH empowers women in Nepal through vocational training, continued education and life skills development. The crafts are trained and equipped to create jewelry and accessories and earning an income that allows them to properly care for themselves and their families.

• Peace Rehabilitation Center: This is a charitable organization in Kathmandu dedicated to fighting and preventing India/Nepal cross-border human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Nepal. PRC also focuses on skill development project, making knitted items in a loving environment for at-risk and trafficked girls through prevention programs, rehabilitation, skills development and ongoing care and support.

• MESH, which stands for Maximizing Employment to Serve the Handicapped, is a non-government organization in New Delhi practicing Fair Trade to provide opportunities for people with disabilities or affected by leprosy to achieve social and economic integration. MESH has developed a wide range of products over the years—bags, bangles, ornaments and cloth nativity sets— with the help of their design studio and artisans from around India. Every purchase supports the people in villages and towns throughout India by sustaining livelihood and improving work environments. MESH is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization.  

Freedom Bazaar parties

In addition to direct and online sales, Freedom Bazaar home parties is the third of their three marketing avenues.

Since the fall of 2012, the Wetherbys have had 450 parties hosted by friends in their homes or other venues, averaging between 60-70 a year.

These events are wonderful gatherings to meet new friends over a cup of cheer, raise awareness for women at risk and other vulnerable communities, and, of course, an opportunity to purchase inventory—costume and silver jewelry, aprons, cosmetic bags, jute bags, organic cotton t-shirts, silk and cotton scarves, shawls, sari blankets, table runners and so much more.

Two sisters in Dallas said they are always happy to see and support the items made available through their cousin Carolyn’s efforts.

Barb (Berg) Peterson of Dallas has hosted parties. She said Carolyn provides chai tea from India, and it is always a fun time sipping, chatting and being able to see and feel the items available for purchase.

Pat (Berg) Olson of Dallas said she thinks it’s wonderful that her cousin provides an outlet for quality-made products made by people in India and Nepal.

If interested in hosting a Freedom Bazaar home party, or for more information on any of the organizations supported by Global Avenues Ministries, call Carolyn at 651-447-9513 or email her at carolyninvorykeys@gmail.com.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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