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The Q’ewar Social Project

qewar-dollsIntroduction and History

The Q’ewar Social Project is - in a few words - a doll making community in Andahuaylillas, a small town in the south of Cusco, Peru.

The idea has existed for many years in the minds of the founders Julio Herrera Burgos and Lucy Terrazas. Since Julio had experience as a Waldorf teacher in Lima, a puppet maker in Buenos Aires, and had attended a Waldorf school in Berlin, he created the idea of “Waldorf Dolls Made in Peru”.

In 2002 the idea became reality, when Julio and Lucy moved to Andahuaylillas, the town in which Lucy had grown up. Julio and Lucy wanted a wool-stuffed mattress and sought help from some of the local women, with the end result being a lot of spare wool. Julio and Lucy didn’t want to lose the relationship gained with the local women, and the women in turn didn’t want to lose their new jobs, and so the project was born. With the remains of the wool and the help of the women themselves, the first dolls were made, as well as the concept of joining an art activity with a work activity. For the women in Andahuaylillas, economic and social support is a big help as most of them suffer from various problems; poverty, domestic violence, poor education, alcoholism, sexism and so on. The salary they earn through the project not only improves their economic situation but also their independence.


 


qewar-workshopMembers and workshops

Today the project is much larger than when it initially began, with 38 women working in five different workshops, where they perform the various processes for the production of the Dolls (woven clothing, making the body parts, sewing clothes, hair, arms, eyes, mouths and clothing). Also on Saturdays, women from the farthest parts of the area come to clean the lambswool. There is also work for six men in the fields around the project, with construction of new buildings (such as a ceramic workshop and a room for visitors) as well as in the garden.

 


School and nursery

qewar-childrenThe project also caters for the women’s children. Waldorf education is included in the job benefits for the poorest children of the women (now around 24 children). This takes place in the mornings, where the children are given breakfast in the school and take part in various activities such as sports, watercolour painting, working in the garden, modelling with beeswax, making bread and drawing, these are part of the weekly rhythm of the education.

Four times a week they also have a music class with a professional musician who helps them with singing and learning various instruments (including Andean). The children are divided into two groups by age, each group has its own classroom but spends some time each day in the project’s park that is equipped with many wooden toys, or on outings around the area of Andahuaylillas.

 

 

 

  

 

 


qewar-groupVolunteers

Since its inception the project has had many volunteers with different backgrounds and skills that could be developed together with the impulses of the Waldorf teachers. Many of the volunteers who come once continue to maintain contact with the project. Some have even had children from the project as bridesmaids or groomsmen. Since 2007, the project has also received German volunteers, commanded by the “Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e. V”. Volunteers work in different areas; in the shop where they come into contact with tourists and report on the project, helping in the school /nursery (depending on the situation they sometimes are given full responsibility) and supporting the production of workshops or social and cultural activities for the women, teenagers and children.

 


 Working conditions

qewar-workshop1Whilst working in the workshops, the women can exchange ideas, laugh together and learn from each other. The atmosphere is relaxed and there is lots of natural light which is important for the detailed work being carried out. Women also have free time within the project as the production of the dolls is a lot of responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The group of teenagers

When children in the day care are over ten years old, they move into the group of adolescents. There, in the evenings they do their homework, have twice weekly English classes (from a volunteer), and have music classes four times a week. On Saturdays they have the chance to earn some extra money, making balls of wool, wool cleaning and so on.


The Shop

In the Andahuaylillas Plaza is the store for the project, which sells dolls, wool, handmade clothes and other typical products of Peru. Three women and a volunteer work here to help cater for the tourists who come in large quantities to the village to visit the church, known as ‘The Sistine Chapel of South America’. However, only a small part of the production is sold here. Large orders come from friends of the project around the world (Germany,USA, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Australia etc). They help the project by selling the dolls in shops, markets or online. On the second floor of the store, another three women now work with their babies in a relaxed atmosphere.


The Dolls

qewar-dolls1There are many types of dolls of different skin tones, with brown, black, blond and red hair, and different coloured eyes. They are produced in various sizes, with varying clothing designs. Only natural materials are used, the majority either sheepswool or alpaca. Many products are dyed and made in a traditional way. Also practised is the art of Andean loom, and woman have also specialised in the art of combing wool into different shapes.

If you would like to contribute to this great project by purchasing a Q’ewar doll or making a donation, please contact Natalia by phone or email.

 

 

 

 


Trips

Once a year all the members of the project organise a short trip together, so they have the opportunity to see several regions and different parts of the country for a small amount of money, an opportunity that many of their fellow Peruvians unfortunately have not.


Celebrations

Festivals such as anniversaries, birthdays, farewells, Christmas etc. are often held in the project grounds with food, drinking, singing and dancing.


qewar-buildingTraining

The women also have a chance for training of different types, such as from the “Volunteer Psychologists of Chile” on the issue of domestic violence. Cultural evenings, mostly arranged by the volunteers are organised in order for the workers to see different cultures and to draw interest on issues that would otherwise be not known.

 

 

 


Andahuaylillas, Perú
www.qewar.com

If you would like to contribute to this great project by purchasing a Q’ewar doll or making a donation, please contact Natalia by phone or email.


To read an article on the personal story of the founders of this project, please click here.

 

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