In the Peruvian Andes, weaving and knitting is sewn into the culture. With the support of SOS Children’s Villages in Juliaca, a group of 15 women have turned these traditional skills into a trade to raise funds for their community. Each woman produces about five fingers puppets a day, which are sold locally and abroad. The extra income helps them feed, clothe and care for their own children. The finger puppets represent members of their families, as well farm animals and fairytale characters.
“We have attended a number of workshops which have taught us how to both produce and improve sales of our products,” says Maryluz Roque Borda, director of the Women Knitting for the Future group. “We used to be three separate groups, but in 2009, SOS Children’s Villages helped us form a larger and more robust collective.”
Strengthening the community as a collective unit
A number of the women’s husbands have been encouraged to take part in a mechanic workshop offered by the SOS Family Strengthening Programme. Several are now employed as mechanics in local auto repair shops.“Where SOS has been most effective is in helping us care for and support our children,” says Maryluz. Their children are sent to a community school maintained by the SOS Family Strengthening Programme. The children receive two healthy meals a day and a free education. Last year, the programme also supplied a number of computers to the school.
“A few years ago one of our members was being badly abused by her husband. We appealed directly to SOS Children’s Villages for help and they intervened. With the help of the local authorities the mother and her children were moved to a home in a new community where she now works in a separate project and is doing extremely well,” says Mayrluz.
Apart from making finger puppets, Women Knitting for the Future also weave clothing and knit hats to keep children warm. In the winter, temperatures in the region drop well below zero, which every year results in the deaths of children from respiratory illness or acute pneumonia.
Looking to the future
Looking toward the future, the group is hoping to widen their operation to include more mothers from the community. “We have the vision to carry on doing what we are doing but on a larger scale,” explains Mayrluz.
“Weaving and knitting alpaca wool is an intrinsic part of our culture. As little girls we were taught this craft, and it is with great pride that we continue this ancient custom as a means to support our families,” she says.
SOS family strenghtening programmes works directly with vulnerable families and communities to prevent child abanonedment. Find out about donating to SOS Children.