On Saturday I had a morning jewelry making class with the Club de Chicas and, because they didn’t have school obligations, we had 5 in the class, with 3 chicas who weren’t in the Thursday class. Two of the new students I knew from previous years, and one of the new students, Veronica, was the youngest in the class at 12. Although young, she picked up the techniques smoothly and quickly.
The oldest in the class, Reina, was a previous student of mine who is a lovely, motivated young woman. She is now 18 and graduating from high school this year. Her older sister just completed a nursing program through an institute that is geared towards helping young women from the countryside (el campo) work in professional careers, and Reina hopes to go into medicine like her sister. She works two jobs, at a clothing store in town, and for PAZA, teaching the chicas knitting and crocheting. I’ve always enjoyed working with her because she is engaged, makes beautiful jewelry, and has a pleasant demeanor.
My favorite part of the class on Saturday were all the giggles. While they made their pieces, the chicas talked and giggled and sang along to the radio. It was wonderful to see them being girls and acting their age. So often here young girls are given responsibilities beyond their maturity level and the fun part of youth is lost to all the things they must tend to. Yet in the class the girls are given the space to just be, which in itself is a success.
Throughout the class the chicas were full of questions for me, mostly about my country, my tattoos, and my ears (which are stretched). At one point they worked up the courage to ask me to take my earrings out and poked and prodded the holes in my ears. Afterwards they took great interest in my tattoos and their meaning. When we got to the Ayacuchan embroidery motif on my arm, I decided it was easier just to show them embroidered bags. I fetched them from my room and explained to the girls how the bags are made by incarcerated women. The girls were very interested in the story of the women and took turns trying on the bags and modeling them.
All of the girls completed their earrings and I was proud of them for finishing on their own because the earrings have a complicated jump ring part. The older girls helped the younger, slower girls finish and everyone was quite taken with the earrings. I think we have a few fashionistas in this group!
We are still raising money for our Plier Fundraiser! As of today, we have raised enough for 16 sets of pliers. Our goal is 25 and we are only 9 sets short! $15 buys one high quality set of 4 pliers, which will greatly enable the women to create sales-quality jewelry pieces. Currently, 80% of our plier sets in Peru and Bolivia are broken or dysfunctional. Support our fundraiser by donating online!