Meet Grace Mahary, International Model & Founder of Project Tsehigh
While conscious consumerism is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring a standard quality of living for people in developing countries, it's also essential to support proactive programs that directly support local communities. That's where Grace Mahary's nonprofit, Project Tsehigh, comes into the picture.
Project Tsehigh is an organization dedicated to bringing solar panels to residential areas around the globe that need it the most. Their first project is to set up 100 solar panels in the community of Maaya in Eritrea - a country in northeast Africa. The Good Trade team was invited to learn more about this organization (and sweat for a good cause!) at #SaluteTheSun, a fundraising event at Tantris Yoga in Los Angeles to help light up those homes in Eritrea.
Afterwards, we had the opportunity to chat with Grace, the founder of the project as well as a stunning international model and overall lovely person. We talked about what inspired her decision to go solar, why she chooses to combine fitness with her fundraisers, and she shared some short but sweet words of encouragement for people embarking on their own endeavors to better their communities.
Project Tsehigh’s solar panels significantly improve the quality of life for rural families in Eritrea. What inspired your vision to provide clean energy in remote areas?
The inspiration for Project Tsehigh stems from my wanting to create a more equal quality of life for people around the world. After walking my first major runway show in Paris, I took a trip to Eritrea, and it was a very humbling experience. By visiting communities that underwent power shortages and people who were subjected to inhaling air polluted by gas generators, I experienced how 1.2 billion people on the planet live: a life without electricity. I saw an opportunity to create a positive change and help mobilize communities.
From the basketball court to the runway, your passions have taken you around the world bridging the gap between fashion and sports. How have your travels and cross-industry experience influenced your nonprofit work?
Being able to travel around the world for work has shown me the difference in the way people live. It's easy for people to take things for granted like running water, clean air and electricity. Being a former athlete and someone who works in the fashion industry has influenced Project Tsehigh's brand style and aesthetic, as we are motivated to show that sustainability is cool and "fashionable." Taking care of our well-being, our planet and helping others live comfortable lives is something all generations can relate to and should pay attention to. We're helping others, while helping our own future as well.
#SaluteTheSun is the second awareness event for Project Tsehigh, following your #PedalPower event in New York with SoulCycle earlier this year. What inspired you to attach these events to fitness studios?
Because I was an athlete before becoming a model, fitness and wellness are important aspects of my life. I also believe in the synergistic idea of clean eating and clean energy. Hosting events where you can improve your own wellness, while helping to improve the lives of other people around the world, seemed like a much more fun and impactful means of fundraising. Our events are bringing people together to create awareness for clean energy, both internally and externally.
Do you have advice for other people looking to act as agents of change and support sustainable energy around the world?
Yes, do not be discouraged when the obstacles seem too great. What you're doing is worth it!
What is the next for Project Tsehigh?
Once we successfully equip the households in the community of Maaya, Eritrea with solar energy, we plan to select the next community we will service. We also are growing our board and looking for dedicated volunteers who are passionate about our work. It's exciting and encouraging when we receive notes from people all over the world who are interested in supporting Project Tsehigh, and we can't wait to light up more homes as we grow!
All event photos courtesy of Chrissy Hernandez