Handmade in Peru. This adorable stuffed animal has a friendly face, funny feet, and wonderful colors. Soft and hand knit, this llama, with its traditional, colorful Andean ear ribbons, will be a favorite playmate. And check out the baby llama, too. Available in Green, Pink, Purple, Yellow or Blue. 100 percent cotton yarn with polyfill stuffing, 7 x 12 x 4 inches.
Artisan Group: El Mercurio ~ Santa Barbara/Huancavelica, Peru: The group started in 2003 with five women and has expanded to over thirty. The members of El Mercurio fled to the outskirts of Huancavelica in the 1980s, escaping the horrific violence in the countryside.
Most still have family land in Santa Barbara, but are unable to eke out an existence there as the community is still rebuilding llama herds and recovering from the loss of key community leaders. Most of the women return to Santa Barbara (a 10-15 hour walk) two or three times a year for planting and harvesting, but live in the town of Huancavelica for most of the year. These women have incredible knitting abilities, but had been unable to channel their talent in a marketable way. Most have a number of children and other family responsibilities. Before El Mercurio was formed, some washed clothes in the river for families who lived in Huancavelica, some shined shoes, and others worked in homes as maids. None of these jobs provided an income that could help them out of extreme poverty.
National statistics show Huancavelica as the poorest region in Peru, and these women are from among the most marginalized in the area.
Many groups in Peru produce finger puppets, and when a local NGO presented El Mercurio with the idea, they got out their knitting needles (and bicycle spokes when they did not have needles) and let their creativity run wild. Their sets are precious and contain details that make their finger puppets stand apart. None of their homes has space for them to work together, so for $3 a month, they rent a one-room house in which they gather every morning and late afternoon.
In addition to increasing the members income exponentially over the years, the group has also provided important support for the members. The workshop acts as a safe space for them to share the joys and challenges of their everyday lives.
Country of Origin: Peru