Las Pioneras: with pioneering spirit to more independence
Our partner organisation IDEMNNA (Instituto de Desarrollo „Maria Elena Moyano“) works with women and their children in an outer district of Lima. The aim of the project is to improve family life, to support the women in their personal development and their independence and to strengthen the solidarity in the neighbourhood. The women who are supported by IDEMNNA have founded a group and have assumed the name “Las Pioneras”. In this group they can exchange ideas and support each other with regard to educational problems and experiences of violence. They share knowledge in the fields of nutrition and handicraft skills, develop business ideas and receive small loans for the realisation of their projects as start-up aid and to achieve financial independence.
Photo report form the project in Peru
Due to the massive immigration of people from all parts of Peru and other countries (e.g. Venezuela), numerous new neighbourhoods have grown up around Lima in recent decades. IDEMNNA works in two communities in Jicamarca, which are located in the eastern metropolitan area of Lima. Living conditions here are extremely precarious: basic services – water, sewage, electricity, green spaces – are lacking. Violence, alcohol, drugs and the land trade cause massive problems. Most families live in poverty. Many women are single parents and have experienced psychological or physical violence.
Alicia lives with her husband and two children high up in the hills in Jicamarca in a house made of wood. Her husband works in the waste collection and is very responsible. Alicia emphasizes that they are a good team and that he supports her in her activities. Thanks to Alicia’s additional income from buying and selling household products and a small loan, she has been able to gradually set up her own home for herself and her family.
Most of the women IDEMNNA works with are in the informal sector. Carmen, the coordinator of the organisation, is regularly out and about in the neighbourhood, where she seeks contact with the women and makes them aware of IDEMNNA’s work.
The close and personal accompanying of the women is one of the great strengths of IDEMNNA. In this way, those responsible learn about the women’s needs. Business ideas are developed and realised together. The photo shows Julio, the second IDEMNNA staff member, with two women from the project.
IDEMNNA is increasingly seeking contact with other institutions in order to expand the range of services offered to the women of Jicamarca. Thanks to this cooperation, the women gain access to psychosocial support, legal counselling and much more.
Before Alicia (right with the microphone) joined the Pioneras, she was shy and could never have imagined speaking in front of people. Today, she confidently leads the meeting of the Pioneras and the election of the new board.
The election of the board is an open and democratic process. The women discuss in groups and can present themselves as candidates. The Pioneras carry out this process very participatively and independently, without intervention from IDEMNNA. This shows how much the women identify with the group of the Pioneras.
The newly elected board of the Pioneras proudly presents itself. It consists of six women, three from each of the two communities Belén and Villa El Sol.
The children of the Pioneras have their own group, which is called the Pioneritos. In this group, they cultivate friendships, do homework, play games, organise themselves and implement ideas according to the principle of «learning by doing».
Two Pioneritos run a small copy centre where they have a printer connected to a prepaid tablet. Here, copies and printouts can be made for a fee. The two Pioneritos keep accounts of all sales and purchases.
Individual women from the group of the Pioneras conduct workshops in which the other women can participate. The tailoring workshop is led by Eulalia, who has been running a sewing studio for several years.
For a few months now, three women have been renting a stall together at the local market. Here they sell their self-sewn products (blankets, cushion covers and bags) and offer repair and modification services. Eulalia provides her own sewing machines for this purpose. She has long dreamed of running a shop at the market.
Keimy is a Pionera of the first hour. In the group, she has learned to gradually free herself from her husband’s control. Thanks to her work in the tailoring studio, she has been able to earn a small but independent income. This has also strengthened her self-confidence in the long term. She is now working on setting up her own sewing studio in the courtyard of her house.
The Comedor in Belén is a building owned by the municipality and rented by the Pioneras. Here they run a lunch table where they offer healthy and nutritious meals. The Pioneras have undergone further training in the field of nutrition and are now counteracting malnutrition by means of this offer.
The Pioneras and their children pay a low price for the food, and the offer is also open to outsiders at a slightly higher price. Children with anaemia from particularly poor families receive lunch free of charge. The women keep accurate records of the Comedor’s income and expenses, thus learning a new skill, namely bookkeeping.
The Pioneras’ place is a small oasis in the desolate surroundings of Jicamarca. The resilience and motivation of the women, their many ideas with which they want to improve their lives and those of their children, inspire and drive Carmen and Julio to stand up for them and to keep developing new strategies for IDEMNNA.