This morning we attended one of the weekly meetings of the women in Krochet Kids’ empowerment program. The women have regular empowerment meetings that deal with daily life skills, self-esteem, skill building, goal setting, and financial independence. Most of these women entered the program because they were deemed vulnerable ... to domestic violence or poverty or other hardships. Krochet Kids assesses the baseline of each woman when she enters the program, and together they establish tangible goals to improve their lives. They a big on the women choosing their own goals, and not comparing their own circumstances to anyone else. They are also big on measureable goals, believing that empowerment should affect observable change, both socially, financially, and emotionally.
They were having a Valentine's Day party and we watched as each women took turns presenting gifts and affirmations to another woman in the program. Despite the language barrier, we could see in their faces, and through the laughter and tears, that these women have formed great affection and community here. It's an empowering and supportive environment that is helping these women rise above difficult circumstances.
In addition to the community they experience with the other women in the program, each woman is paired with a mentor who meets with them regularly to help them meet their goals. The mentors are similar to a social worker – and help them deal with any obstacles they are facing, from relational issues to parenting challenges. They are all Peruvian nationals. The mentors are there to help with emotional, social, physical, and spiritual growth. It is obvious there is a real bond between the women and the mentors.
The women passed out gifts to one another, Secret Santa style. The rule: the gift had to be homemade. Obviously some of these women have developed some serious sewing skills and it was impressive to see what they’d made for each other. There was also a lot of ribbing and inside jokes.
After the gift exchange there was a photo booth. I was told they love having photos printed of themselves, and one thing I noticed at Beatrize’s house was that she had a stacked of photos that had been given to her by Krochet Kids. They seemed to have a lot of fun with this, and I really appreciate how the program fosters these kinds of community-building experiences.
After the party, we sat down with one of the mentors to better understand the program. The mission is pretty straightforward: to empower women to rise above poverty. To achieve this, the program has four objectives:
- Women have consistent and liveable income sources
- Women invest their resources in ways that bring positive social/economic return (the women have the option to pool their money into a savings plan and to borrow a microloan when they graduate.)
- Women are physically healthy (They have access to health services and a healthy work environment.)
- Women can cope with their lives
The mentors consider self-esteem to be foundational to success, and it’s clear that these women are growing in that area. Blake and Sarah noted that many of the women enter the program demoralized and hopeless, and several months in their whole personality changes as they begin to feel empowered and independent.
To learn more about Krochet Kids, and to see the awesome apparel and accessories they offer, check them out here. You can also follow our trip on instagram with the hashtag #knowwhomadeit, and read the experiences of Heather, Rebecca, and Sarah.
photos by Joy Jeong