Poverty is one of the biggest causes of disabilities. People with disabilities are the poorest of the poor in any country. People with disabilities don’t have disadvantages because of their disabilities. The disadvantages experienced by the disabled arise because of the barriers to opportunities that society puts in their way.
Machu Picchu Stars is a project that seeks to eliminate the blocks that hearing disabled women experience and give them access to a life with dignity. Our main focus is to provide work opportunities which help deaf women integrate into society, become independent, and lead productive lives. We strive to do this in a holistic way by also addressing basic education and health care needs.
The Plight of the Hearing-Disabled in Peru
In Peru once a woman becomes deaf, her chances for an education and employment basically come to an end. Only 5% of deaf women in Peru have more than a primary school education. Because of the lack of special education, adult women who are hearing disabled lack proficiency in sign language, cannot read lips, have not learned to speak, and are only a step above illiteracy. The lack of the ability to communicate makes deaf women almost unemployable. The deaf woman often cannot even communicate with her own parents and because she cannot find work sits at home all day looking at the walls. She becomes a further burden to an already impoverished family.
There are at least 25,000 hearing-disabled women in greater Lima of whom only 13% are employed. Many of these women have been trained as seamstresses. They often cannot find work as employers lack the patience to communicate with them in the fast paced and competitive environment of Lima’s clothing factories. If they do find work, they are paid very low wages and doomed to menial tasks like cutting threads and cleaning. Sometimes unscrupulous employers refuse to pay them.
History of Machu Picchu Stars
In the year 2000, with the idea of generating work for the poorest of the poor AMURTEL Peru started a project called Machu Picchu Stars. The project was to make hand made dolls. It started with $6, a borrowed sewing machine, and two volunteers. The volunteers worked very hard designing, producing, and marketing beautiful hand made dolls. In 2003, the project was ready to expand and formed a working team of 5 deaf women.
Machu Picchu Stars started with the idea to create work for many women. It has done that. At present we have sold more than 10,000 dolls. We have built up a capital of industrial machines, materials, finished dolls and cash. We have exported our dolls to Sweden, Italy, England, Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. We now have a trained work force of 10 deaf women who earn a fair wage. With the idea to expand even further, in 2006 we began producing children’s clothing for export to the United States. However our greatest joy has been to see how the hearing disabled members of our team have grown in self-confidence and self-esteem.
What Machu Picchu Stars Offers the Hearing Disabled:
- The possibility to escape extreme poverty through working and receiving a fair wage.
- The opportunity to develop and express the skills of craftsmanship and sense of aesthetics which they possess in abundance. This is in vast contrast to the usual lot of the disabled person who is relegated to menial, low-paying jobs such as cleaning bathrooms.
- The chance to increase their self-esteem by feeling capable, useful, creative and productive in a work setting.
- An atmosphere where good values and ethics of honesty, responsibility, and team work are shared.
What Machu Picchu Stars has accomplished:
- We have formed a working team that can produce products of high quality for export
- We have taught members of our team to be the trainers of new member of our project. They coach, enable, and offer incentives to new workers.
- We have transmitted the understanding that a major part of surmounting obstacles in society depends on one’s own effort.
Our Dream—Our dream is that one day we will have a business that can give work with dignity to hundreds of hearing disable women. Here is how you can help:
- Help us to look for new clients: shops, organizations, or individuals.
- We need volunteers.
- We need donations to expand our workshop and to help our women with education and health care.
Calle Las Tortugas, Mz. J-6, Lt. 4
Los Cedros, Chorrillos
Links: AMURT | AMURTEL | rurapuk.org