The project began in 2002 and is a social and economic initiative working with the indigenous women living in the peasant rural community of Q’ewar, in a small town outside Cuzco, Peru, called Andahuaylillas. The project was started by Julio Herrera and his partner Lucy Terrazas after they moved to settle in this village.
Julio & Lucy
The basic motivation that led to this social initiative stems from Julio and Lucy’s belief that we are all responsible for each other, especially to those worst affected by their destiny. We must assume responsibility for helping our society overcome ignorance and racism. Lucy and Julio are searching for ways that will bring balance to the social injustices around us all.
Because the town is small, the frequency of daily contact made it possible and gave rise to bonds of friendship, harmonious collaboration and a strong sense for the hard conditions of the life of the rural people of Andahuaylillas. Lucy and Julio decided to set up a small room in their house as a communal workshop and teach 4 women to make dolls.
To begin with, 130 kilos of sheep’s wool was bought – all of which needed to be cleaned and washed – the first lesson! The first four women to participate were family related, all having severe problems in their life situations. And from here the “family” grew and amazing things happened. Now the project supports 87 women and 42 children. They have built a kindergarten onsite for the women to send their small children as they work. Small babies are nursed by the mothers as they work.
As to the economic gains that the project generates, they serve to pay the daily wages of the women; making the health of the women and children a priority; as well as using the money to begin to install bathrooms and drainage systems in the houses of the families. Little by little they have formed a community monetary fund which the women learn to use responsibly, autonomously and in freedom.
Besides the labor in the workshop, alpaca fiber is also given to other women who are able to hand-spin in their houses and also during their walking to and from their fields (for cultivation and animal grazing). The women are able to spin 100 or 150 grams per day. This same system is utilized in the making of the dolls clothing and adult sweaters the project also sell. They deliver balls of yarn to the women who know how to knit and they work in their houses.
Education at the Q’ewar Project.
The Q’ewar school, Wawa Munakuy (“giving love to the children” in the Quechua language) care for the youngest preschoolers of the working women, as well as conducting classes for primary school age children. For information about education facilities at the project please click here (http://qewar.com/education/).
A Primary School is currency being built which has been possible due to generous donations from
Saffron Waddick teaching at the kindergarten during her time volunteering at the project in 2013.
(Thank you to Saffron Waddick (volunteer at the project) for providing the photos to put here)