July was a particularly crafty month, both for mothers with children participating in Project Chiclayo who are part of an artisan ‘co-op’ called ‘Artesanas por la Vida ‘ (or ‘Artisans for Life’) and for youth in Project Chiclayo in La Victoria district. Here are a few glimpses of this creative activity.
Members of ‘Artesanas por la Vida ‘ having a first try at hand-sewing decorative flowers with vibrant Peruvian fabrics on a sunny Saturday morning at the Centro Esperanza (Hope Centre) office. Pictures of finished products will follow, but for now we are still improving designs and experimenting with different materials.
This is not the first time these mothers are working together as ‘artesanas ‘, but with a recent donation of materials from Chalice, the continued support of several staff members from Centro Esperanza and the opportunity to receive personalized guidance and training sessions from three Canadian university students in less than two weeks, there is a lot of hope that the co-op will eventually become a group independent of Centro Esperanza.
This ‘co-op’ is a perfect opportunity for learning on so many levels. In addition to experimenting with the materials at hand, in recent sessions we touched on topics such as product design, quality control, pricing and sales (from local to international). However, we also addressed other key factors just as necessary for the success of the group; perhaps the most important is creating more unity within the group (of roughly 15 women who live in urban and rural low-income areas that are somewhat separated). To generate this unity, practising respect (arriving on time, respecting opinions and ideas and the particular talents that each woman has), cooperation, teamwork, commitment, responsibility and time management will be key. In addition, we want each of the women to recognize their own interests and talents (and then use them as guides in their artisan work) and for them to take on leadership roles within the group so that they end up running all aspects of their co-op.
The aim is that this co-op will provide income for these women through employment that gives dignity to their lives, in which there are good working conditions and fair pay, in which every woman’s voice is heard. We want the women to be proud of their work in producing unique, high-quality hand-crafted goods that are safe for consumers. It has been a lot of fun to think of possibilities for production and imagine where the ‘artesanas ‘ and their products could end up, but considering the challenges these women face in their daily lives and the huge market competition, this endeavour is by no means an easy undertaking.
That same morning, other ‘artesanas ‘ jumped into jewellery-making. We are trying to encourage the use of natural Peruvian beads, some of which are made of seeds which come from the Amazon rain forest region . As I used to sell jewellery at farmer’s markets in Canada, doing a bit of jewellery-making brought back a lot of memories!
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On Saturday afternoons I have been with my usual youth group in La Victoria. After starting with the Japanese kumihimo bracelet design, the next weeks were focused on teaching them how to make friendship bracelets with different macramé knots. We used a variety of threads and they learned how to incorporate both small and large beads into their designs. Both guys and girls seemed to really enjoy making bracelets and had fun choosing thread colour and bead combinations. Some were particularly fast learners and I encouraged them to help their peers. I did my best to remind the youth that ‘quality is better than quantity’ by encouraging them to create more detailed, well-planned designs, but instilling this idea in them remains a challenge.
This past Saturday a 2nd youth meeting was held for all the youth in Project Chiclayo–more on that to follow!
Thanks for reading!