Thursday, November 17, 2011

the kkp ladies :: luz & eliza


Luz lives up to her name and is a light at KKp.  She is 35 years old and has two kids.  Her husband has a steady job which is rare for the women in our program.  She has always lived in Lima, but moved to Pacifico (the shantytown on the mountainside where all of the women live) 10 years ago because her husband's uncle gave them a room to live in.  She had to drop out of school after 5th grade because her family needed her to work.  She worked as a housekeeper and sold ice cream on the beach.  

(Side note ::  It is not unusual here to hire girls as young as 12 years old to basically be in-home servants.  They work long hours and then are relegated to their rooms when not working.  They are most certainly not treated as valuable human beings and, while I don't have any statistics, many Peruvians have told me that physical abuse does occur.)

In Luz's last job before working for KKp, she watched other people's kids and made the equivalent of $15 a month.  Luz told us her dreams are to own a home and a restaurant.  She wants to study cooking and she loves to bake.  I can already picture Luz one day owning a restaurant.  She is so positive and warm and would create a fun and relaxing restaurant environment.


Luz's daughter, Dora, comes to KKp everyday with her.  She is very attached to Luz, so she has had a hard time adjusting to her mom working a full time job.  I know that it has also been hard on Luz to put her daughter in childcare everyday, even though it's onsite.  


Luz has definitely struggled with learning how to make hats.  At the beginning she would get frustrated easily and she has come in tears to Blake a few times.  She is a really hard worker and is not one to give up.  She is doing much better now, so we try not to ask her to learn new styles of hats as much as some of the other women.  We want her confidence to grow before we give her too many new challenges.  


Eliza is a 38 year old mother of three, but most days she seems much older.  Eliza has had a hard life and she wears it on her face.  She is a single mom with teenage kids and she worries about her kids a lot.

Eliza grew up in Puno, a city on the border of Bolivia.  By bus it takes a full day to get from Lima to Puno.  She never went to school as a child because her parents needed her to work their farm.  Eliza moved to Lima when she was 18 and eventually found herself in Pacifico because she couldn't afford rent anywhere else.  Her parents and brothers still live in Puno and you can tell it is very hard for her to be far from them.  She loves to talk about growing up in Puno and has told us that she would love to be able to visit her family one day.

Before KKp Eliza sold coffee and food on the streets, was a housekeeper, and worked in a factory.  She went to school at night and got through 2nd grade before she needed to drop out to take care of her first son.  When Blake asked Eliza what she would like to work towards in her life, she said she wants to learn to read and write.  

Eliza also wants to one day own her own knitting business, but her real dream is for her kids to finish school and have a different life than hers.  Eliza sometimes has a hard time keeping up with work at KKp because she needs to be with her kids at home or get them to doctor appointments (her son has TB).  You can tell that every penny that she earns is valuable to her.  She has been trying to provide for three kids on her own without a stable job for a long time.  


Just writing about Eliza makes me cry because I do worry about her a lot.  I am overwhelmed with her life situation and I am not even the one living it.  As I mentioned, you can tell that life wears on Eliza and that she carries a heavy load.  Like Luz, she has also struggled making hats and seems to be easily defeated.  Blake works hard to love on her, but also show her how strong she is.  Any woman that can raise three kids on her own while living in extreme poverty is strong.

I know that Eliza's dreams are for her kids, but I dream that Eliza will one day experience peace and rest.  I do see her finding happiness during the day at KKp and I hope that a steady income and our program development will drastically change her future.


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