Our Manta Pouch from Peru is twice as nice with two pockets. Its colorful design matches the vibrancy of the Peruvian people and your purchase gives them hope for the future.
Bridge of Hope was created by Joining Hands Against Poverty, an ecumenical network made up of 14 community groups, churches and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who believe that, in this era of globalization, it is important to work on the international level as well as local to have a real impact on the policies which define the context within which poor and marginalized people live. To find out more . . .
Located in the Hualhuas District near Huancayo, a group of five women formed the artisan group, La Esperanza which means “Hope” in Spanish. In the house of one of the members, La Esperanza works on three small looms producing products with traditional Andean motifs. The members include: Graciela Damaza Maldonado, a dynamic and creative artisan who weaves attractive pillow covers; Margot Karin Lazo, the eldest of Graciela’s siblings; Georgina Elizabeth Lazo, an optimistic and engaging weaver; and Maria Tomaza Inga, a knowledgeable weaver who also helps her husband in his brick-making workshop.
Members Luz Vásquez, Graciela Damaza, Margot Lazo, Georgina Lazo, Maria Tomaza
In the 1960’s and 70’s a Swiss family lived in Huancayo and helped weavers adapt colors and designs for the European market. They assisted in constructing looms and obtaining materials for many weavers in order to make products for that market. The art of weaving continued and expanded. However, when the family left during the terrorism of the eighties, many weavers were left with weaving skills and a loom but little business skills or connections for buying materials or selling goods. Twenty years later one sees dilapidated looms throughout Huancayo and Huancavelica. Very few weavers have been able to market their weavings.
Twenty years ago Huayanay was a typical community: all farmed, raised animals, and wove. Each month they would go to Huancayo to pick up materials and deliver their finished products. They had to shear their llamas and sheep; the wives would spin the material into yarn; they would dye the yarn with natural berries, roots and leaves; and make a colorful woolen bedspread. They didn’t have a market and would simply take the product to the city of Huancavelica, hoping to sell there. At that time it was difficult to sell even 10 bedspreads a year. Yet, this was their principal source of cash income so they kept at it.
ATIYPAQ, one of the institutions of the Joining Hands Against Poverty Network, worked near Huayanay and knew that most were weavers who weren’t weaving much anymore. ATIYPAQ introduced some of the weavers to the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade project. Members of the group were invited to Lima so they could learn about buying materials. Given the traditional designs they wanted to incorporate, they decided to try to weave 100% cotton baby blankets. Weaving cotton has proven to be a challenge because it’s very different from weaving wool but after numerous attempts, the group has had a very successful product!
Today, Huayanay is a small settlement of houses perched at over 14,500 feet, a four-hour walk outside of Huancavelica city. In these homes are looms where beautiful and soft baby blankets and shawls are being produced in this community.
Through the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade project this community is realizing its dream of revitalizing the weaving that once was produced there. Grupo Huayanay is intergenerational with male artisans that have many years of experience and four young adults (one of whom is a woman!).
Members Leoncio de la Cruz Quispe, Alberto de la Cruz Solano, Godofredo de la Cruz Ccente, Misael Chocca Fernandez, Agustin Ccente Hilario, Wilber de la Cruz Ccente, Gonzalo Ccente López, Teodoro Chocco de la Cruz, Flor de la Cruz Melchor, Delia de la Cruz Melchor, Siméon Chocca Ccente, Santiago Ccente Lopez, Emiliano Chocca Fernandez, Alfonso Inga Castellano.
Maná sews all sorts of products including the colorful mantas which women in the Andes Mountains use to carry their babies. They make placemats, table centers, wine bags, coasters, purses, conference bags, yoga bags, pastoral stoles, bookmarks and much more. Their creativity continues in developing new successful products. They have bought 5 sewing machines with their sales and have a well-lit, organized workshop in one of their homes. They rotate the workshop every year and it is now in its 4th location – each year it is larger and better equipped. Not only do they live out the criteria of Fair Trade, they demonstrate problem solving skills when facing challenges.
They serve as a model to other groups. For example, when one of the artisans, Glendi, broke her arm, she was unable to sew for 3 weeks. The group decided to divide her share of the work between themselves, and give her the same distribution of income that they would receive. By addressing the situation in this way, they created their own “insurance”. Being sick or laid up didn’t mean Glendi was without pay: the others pitched in her behalf.
Maná works 6-8 hours per day and has been working together for three years. Their goal is to increase the amount of orders they receive so that they can add five more members (i.e. their daughters). Three have adult-aged, unemployed daughters who are currently being trained.
The other two daughters are younger and will have an opportunity to work when they finish high school. Maná also worked together many years in a community soup kitchen. None were employed, and their economic needs pushed them to think about sewing together.
They decided to pool their resources and talents: one woman had finished high school and could keep the books; another knew a little about sewing; two had very old, used machines that had been passed down in their families; and one knew where to buy materials in Lima. With the support of the Bridge of Hope Project, they learned about taxes, bookkeeping, and took sewing lessons. In turn, being a part of Maná’s development has provided experience after experience that affirms that Fair Trade works! The women point out that not only have each of them had a stable family income of $225 per month from their work, but they are able to walk to work, have flexibility in times of emergency, and have the support and friendship of one another.
Members Patricia Avila, Bertha Flores, Emilia Serrano.