Today I brought all the materials we used in class to the prison to sell to the women at a discounted rate. Many of the beads and finding are available in the Ayacucho but the most important material, the wire, is unavailable here. There is another type of wire in Peru, called alpaca, however it is much harder to work with the women prefer to use the wire from the U.S. because it is easier to work with and looks nicer.
Next I distributed money to the women in the class since each year Ruraq Maki purchases student work to bring to the U.S. and sell to help pay for the class materials (which are provided by the organization). The new women were excite to have sold a few pieces and I hope it encourages them to continue making jewelry.
Finally the women had a chance to show me their completed projects from yesterday. It was clear that many of the women had reworked the earrings in order to make them perfect and uniform. Many of the projects came out beautifully and I purchased a few more pieces to sell in the U.S.
The next stop was Marleny’s cell to pick up the order she had collected from various women. The products, as always, look stunning and we just added a new product to our home collection- pieces of embroidered manta that are ready to frame as wall art! Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for photos of these beautiful pieces of material.
Finally it was time to say goodbye yet, with the women’s growing trust that I will be back, it was easier and less emotional than usual. The women hugged and kissed me, thanking me for the classes, telling me that they will see me in July and reminding me to bring them gold, thin wire.
Although the majority of the goodbyes were easy, two goodbyes were hard. One was with Miriam who is one of my favorite new students. She told me that she is unsure if she will be here in July. Of course, this is good news for her, and I told her that I hoped we would not see each other again, yet I also will miss her. The other was with Marleny, with whom I have developed a great friendship. She thanked me many times, reminding me of how important the work we provide is for the women in the prison, and telling me that she will look forward to seeing me in July.
Later this afternoon I had lunch with Marleny’s two daughters, who are very lovely women. Her older daughter is studying to be an accountant at university and has one year left. Her younger daughter is just about to start university and has decided to study law. After lunch we went to their house, where I met Marleny’s sister and father. After I told her father about Ruraq Maki he told me, “It is very good that you are giving the women work. They need work. Without work, and something to do, they become sick in the prison.”
It feels good to have a father’s approval!