Life-skills Program Offers Hope for Employment

Life-skills Program Offers Hope for Employment

By: By Adele Berg, Compassion Peru Communications Specialist   |   Posted: May 17, 2005

A young girl is weaving a purse to sell at the local market.

Vocational training classes are offered in Compassion Peru's projects to make financial stability a reality for sponsored youth. Because poverty and limited infrastructures are characteristic of Compassion Peru-assisted communities, prayer and creativity are required for these courses to succeed. One example of vocational training success is at the Forjadores de Esperanza (PE-407) where Adele Berg, Compassion Peru's Communications Specialist, recently visited.

"Please stop at Eli's drugstore!"

My passenger plea is drowned out by the rhythmic Latin music pumping from the radio on the bus. My fellow busmates and I are careening through the unpaved streets of José ‡alvez, a squatter's community some 27 miles south of Lima.

In this deserted town, like many such communities along Peru's coastline, everything from potable water to hospitals and schools are in short supply. Additionally, an unregulated local cement factory spews a heavy film of dust that blankets José ‡alvez  24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Forjadores de Esperanza: Signs of Life in a Dead-end Town

Finally, I step off the bus and begin my walk toward Forjadores de Esperanza. On a neighborhood block, filled with potholes and littered with half-built brick houses, I find the center in one of the area's few finished buildings. The sound of happy children playing greets me.

I greet Project Director Fanny Castro with the traditional Peruvian kiss on the cheek before she takes me to the center's handicrafts class. There I observe the girls, ages 11 to 18, learning to knit, crochet and macramé® They're also making purses, small backpacks, headbands, bracelets and breadbaskets. I learn that headbands and bracelets are especially popular in the neighborhood.

Viable Business Changing Lives

The crafts are sold at church conventions and during sponsor and missionary visits to the center. Each of the girls receives half of the selling price when one of her crafts is sold. The remaining half is returned to the project's craft materials fund.

Additionally, because their hard work is valued, the young craftswomen are gaining a greater sense of self-esteem. I met formerly sponsored child, Pilar Valderrama  an example of just how life-changing this center's vocational training is.

Crafts Offer New Life for Pilar 

Paralyzed on her right side from a car accident when she was 6, Pilar found knitting to be difficult, at first. Since taking the class, however, she has mastered the craft of knitting beautiful purses that sell well.

Her skills have not only increased her quality of life, but Pilar says the coordination on the right side of her body has improved too.

"I thank Compassion and all the project staff who have helped me so much," Pilar says. "Most of all, I thank the Lord because He has given me a great life that I never thought I would have had without this training."

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