Profile: Making Dolls with the Q’ewar Project in Peru

Volunteer vacation: Q'ewar Project in Peru

One of the ways we make sure our volunteer vacations are sustainable is by only supporting projects that are already integrated into the community. A perfect example of this is the Q’ewar Project, which we visit on our volunteer vacations to Peru.

Located in the rural highlands of the Andes Mountains, this project has been operating for 15 years — long before Discover Corps existed — and offers local people a stable income through the creation of beautiful dolls. Every part of the dolls is handcrafted from Peruvian cotton and alpaca and sheep wool.

We caught up with the project’s founder, Don Julio, to ask him about the project and its impact on the local community. {Note that this interview has been translated from Spanish.} 

When and where did you get the idea for the project?

My wife Lucy and I came to live in the village of Andahuaylillas [near Cusco] in October 2000. We soon saw the need to create job opportunities and training for women, who at that time were only engaged in hard labor in agriculture.

Volunteering in Peru: Q'ewar dolls

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of making and selling the dolls?

In January 2002, we started making the Waldorf dolls with three women who’d led very difficult lives. Now, we have 39 women and six men working to make the dolls each day. 95 percent of our products go around the world — thanks to our collaboration with Waldorf school teachers, who sell the dolls in fairs, schools and fair trade shops.

What do you do with the money you raise? How does it help your community?

Most of the proceeds from the sale of the dolls covers the daily income of the project’s members. The remaining money is invested in infrastructure and the maintenance of the children’s garden. We also have an area of ​​5,200 square meters (~3 square miles), upon which we’re building a Waldorf primary school.

Volunteering in Peru: Q'ewar project

Have you seen a change in the community (especially the women and children) since starting this project?

The women who work daily in the project now have a stable income — which has allowed them to install toilets in their homes, or even build their own houses. Through the project, their children can receive free tutoring and various other enrichment programs.

Why is it important that Discover Corps travelers come to your community? How do they help?

The meeting of these two cultures enables both the travelers and project members to develop bonds of friendship, exchange life experiences, and show support and solidarity for each other.

[bctt tweet=”Volunteer in #Peru + learn about the Q’ewar project, which employs #women to make beautiful dolls:”]

What would you say to someone who’s interested in visiting Peru?

Foreign volunteers and visitors who come to Peru and meet us will receive a warm welcome; we’re interested in creating friendships and will do everything to ensure their stay is comfortable and safe. We also will share with them our wide array of delicious native cuisine, rich pre-Hispanic and colonial archaeology and history, and the natural beauty of an incomparable region.

Muchas gracias to Don Julio for taking the time to speak with us about his inspiring work! Would you like to visit this project someday? 

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