July was a particularly crafty month, both for mothers and youth participating in Project Chiclayo, especially mothers in the artisan ‘co-op’ ‘Artesanas por la Vida ‘ (or ‘Artisans for Life’) and for youth in La Victoria district.
Above, members of ‘Artesanas por la Vida ‘ had a first try at hand-sewing decorative flowers with vibrant Peruvian fabrics on a sunny Saturday morning at the Centro Esperanza (Hope Centre) office. 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 hope that the co-op will eventually become more independent.
This co-op is a perfect learning opportunity on many levels. In addition to experimenting with the materials, we touched product design, quality control, pricing and sales (from local to international). We also addressed other key factors just as necessary for success; perhaps the most important is creating more unity within the group, comprised of roughly 15 women living in urban and rural low-income areas that are somewhat separated. To generate this unity, actions such as arriving on time, respecting opinions and ideas, and practising cooperation, teamwork, commitment, responsibility and time management are key. In addition, we want each woman to recognize their own interests and talents (and then use them as guides in their artisan work) and to take on leadership roles so that, collectively, the women end up running all aspects of their co-op.
The aim is that this co-op will generate income through employment that gives dignity through good working conditions and fair pay. Every woman’s voice is heard and we want each to be proud of their role and hard work in producing unique, high-quality hand-crafted goods that are safe for consumers. It has been fun to brainstorm possibilities and imagine where the ‘artesanas‘ and their products could end up, but we all recognize the challenges these women face in their daily lives, plus the local and global market competition.
That same morning, some other ‘artesanas‘ jumped into jewellery-making. We are trying to encourage the use of natural Peruvian beads, some of which are made of seeds from the Amazon rainforest region. As I used to make and sell jewellery at farmer’s markets in Canada, this creative time brought back memories (especially muscle memory)!
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On Saturday afternoons I have been with my usual group of youth 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 enjoyed learning how to incorporate both small and large beads into their designs. All youth had fun choosing thread colours and bead combinations. Some were particularly fast learners and I encouraged them to help their peers. I reminded them that ‘quality is better than quantity’ by encouraging them to create more detailed, well-planned designs. In other news, this past Saturday we held a 2nd meeting for all youth in Project Chiclayo!
Thanks for reading! ¡Gracias por leer!