International travel often changes us in ways we don’t anticipate, especially if we choose a location like Khayelitscha – a poor township with close to one million people in Western Cape, South Africa. Most of the residents live in tin or wooden shacks, some without running water or indoor toilets. Unemployment is at 50% and half the population is under the age of 19.
It was here that Daniela Belmondo first met Veronica, a resident of Khayelitscha, who had a dream. Daniela, the founder of Belmonda Skin Care, was on a trip in 2008, visiting South Africa with a friend. On the spur of the moment, a local asked the two travelers if they would like to see the township of Khayelitscha. Jumping at the chance for another adventure, Daniela and her friend said, “Yes.”
Arriving in the deeply depressed area, Daniela received a warm welcome by a woman named Veronica and her husband, Matanzima. The couple lives in a three room home with twelve children, ranging from two years old to 11. Only four of the kids are their own.
“I sat and listened to their story,” Daniela says. “They opened their home to take in these children who didn’t have parents. At first, I thought the kids were just there for play time, but then I realize they lived there because they didn’t have anywhere else to go. Veronica’s dream was to have a large space for the children – a proper orphanage.”
Daniela said she saw the family trying to earn enough money for their home by making tea cups and jewelry. But it wasn’t meeting their needs.
“I didn’t have my business yet,” Daniela says. “But I remember sitting there thinking how awesome it would be to help Veronica and her husband with this vision. But at the time, I didn’t know what that would look like.”
Daniela returned to her home in Vancouver, Canada and 18 months later started her natural skincare line, Belmondo Skin Care. She created the line because as an esthetician, she’d worked with products that contained toxic ingredients she didn’t want to use.
“I wanted to incorporate my Italian heritage into the line – create it from olive oil – along with other organic ingredients.” Daniela was raised in Calabria in Southern Italy. It was there that she saw women using olive oil topically for their skin and the benefits it brought.
Once her business was up and running, she revisited her idea about helping Victoria with her orphanage dream. Talking with Victoria and a mutual friend, they’ve begun the process of saving for the new building. Daniela donates 1% of her profits from Belmondo to the future of the children in Victoria’s care. “We’re not there yet,” Daniela admits. “But we’re at the stage of taking the idea into motion.”
Any products you buy from Belmondo will help with the orphanage in Khayelitscha. Doesn’t it seem fitting that Belmondo means “Beautiful World” in Italian?