Overcomers: Artisans Shine at Quito Fair
Women in the Quito Recycling Community are learning new skills, starting micro businesses and generating income to support their families. Read below how a Entrepreneurs Fair sponsored by ER and opened up to our partners and friends helped many artisans show off and sell their handiwork.
(May 17, 2019)
The first ever Feria De Emprendimiento (Entrepreneur Fair) presented the perfect environment for artisans to flex their creative and business muscles. Case in point, the women who are part of the Quito Dump Community have made handcrafted goods for several years. But now they are learning marketing, presentation and financial skills.
In a word, the recyclers, and the other groups who participated, are becoming self-sufficient entrepreneurs.
“For most participants, this was their first time to show their products at a fair,” said ER’s Johanna Hildago, primary organizer of the event – and a chocolate delights entrepreneur to boot. “While they have security and confidence their products, we provided them an hour of training before opening the doors for people to come in.”
“The training had two themes – digital marketing and money handling. We hope we can help in the future with more training and more spaces where they can sell their products,” Johanna added.
Johanna spearheaded the fair and ER supported it with finances, printing, name tags, and lanyards. It was an opportunity for local Artisans to display and sell their products. Reach Beyond provided the facility for the fair. The tables cost $25 and entrepreneurs kept whatever they made beyond $25.
A total of 20 different local artisans took part in the fair. In addition to the Quito recyclers, ER partner Pan de Vida and Casa Adalia (half-way house for abused moms) participated.
“These women have come so far,” said ER regional director Brian Wallace. “I remember two Christmases ago when I bought some crafts they had trouble handling the money.
“But today, they did everything from tell me the price, to writing down who made the craft, to taking my money and giving me change. This is a big step forward for them as far as independence.
“Some women even made espuma (a type of whipped cream you eat off a cone). There was a soccer game being played next door, so they took their product over there and they sold out! It was just a cool opportunity for these women to take a big step forward,” he added.
Scroll below to read more about ER’s programs to empower women and help them lift themselves out of generational poverty. Or, click here.
International Women’s Day: #BalanceforBetter
(Feb. 14, 2019)
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8 is #BalanceforBetter. At Extreme Response, we enthusiastically support helping women worldwide.
According to the International Women’s Day Website, the event was first recognized in 1908 and is now a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
We’ve witnessed first-hand how women unfairly shoulder the burden of poverty. Throughout the world, women frequently care for children who otherwise would be abandoned. Too often, women end up being the sole parent, breadwinner and caregiver for their children.
So what is ER doing about this disparity? This year we’ve taken our own bold step by making Women’s Empowerment one of our four primary initiatives (Orphans & Vulnerable Children, Educational Access and Leadership Development are the others). In 2019 and the years ahead, we are committed to empowering at-risk women with our programming, partners and resources. Following is a quick snapshot at what we’re doing today.
Quito Dump Community
For the last 20 years in Ecuador, we’ve reached out to women and their families who glean their livelihood by recycling items from the trash. This includes women who work as recyclers at the Zambiza Garbage Transfer Station (i.e. Quito Dump) and those who recycle in the streets.
The work is arduous, dangerous and extremely low paying. Recyclers collect glass, metal, cardboard and plastics to sell to dealers. Their wages provide barely enough to survive. These women face injury, violence, poverty and social disparagement as they simply try to provide for their families.
We are helping these women escape these conditions by providing education, nutrition, exercise, skills training and micro-business support.
Mercedes and Mariana, have work as a recyclers for many years to support their family. Recently, they learned to make handcrafted goods and sell them to earn extra money. They also now do cleaning work part-time at a local gym. Today. they have profound hope that her family’s future is bright.
ER serves more than 70 women each week by providing programming that takes place at the Quito Family Resource Center. Many of their kids are enrolled in our Quito After-School Program. Because their children will be educated they will have life options that stretch beyond recycling. Read more about the sisters ands other women here.
Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program
In the Philippines, ER Asia is reaching out to women who are living in impoverished situations. We determined that many of the women suffer from low skills and education, and often feel hopeless to improve their circumstances.
To combat this, we formed the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program. Each year we identify a group of at-risk women and teach them job skills and more.
Take Sally, who is one of seven women currently enrolled in the Golden Hands Basic Sewing course. Before joining the group, Sally’s confidence and sense of worth were desperately low.
Through the Golden Hands group training, that is all changing. Sally has bonded with the other women and gained a great deal of self-confidence through these relationships. Not only has she found a source of peace in her life, she’s learning sewing skills that will allow her to save money on her kids’ school uniforms. Sally has a newfound joy and optimism. Read more about Sally and other members of Golden Hands here.
Helping to Rescue and Restore the Victims of Human Trafficking
There is no tragedy greater than the manipulation and enslavement of vulnerable people, often young women and girls by human traffickers. ER has partners dedicated to fighting this scourge with frontline intervention, rescue, restoration, skills training and counseling.
While nearly all of our 30 partners focus on the plight of women or their children, partners in Nepal, Ecuador and South Africa are are heavily focused on rescuing and restoring women who have been victims of human trafficking. Often, these partners face overt danger from traffickers as they help women heal. Rescuing and restoring women, often young girls, is bold and courageous work. Hence, we seek to do more to support these partners through the Empowerment Fund. Learn more about our anti-trafficking efforts here.
Our Vision For Empowering Women
Our vision is to help women escape the cycle of poverty, abuse, neglect and oppression by empowering them through education, skills and opportunities. This requires well-trained staff, volunteers and partners, as well as financial resources. We are constantly improving our staff-led programs and assessing the work our partners are doing globally to help at-risk women.
A Skilled GirlForce
(Oct. 11, 2018)
October 11 marks an important day of recognition. The United Nations has declared it “The Day of the Girl“ – a time to reflect on the challenges facing young women worldwide and pursue solutions.
Here’s what the UN is sharing:
“Today’s generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training.
“Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.
“On 11 October, International Day of the Girl, we are working alongside all girls to expand existing learning opportunities, chart new pathways and calling on the global community to rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the world of work.
“Under the theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, International Day of the Girl will mark the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.”
At ER, we’re “with her” and support this cause. We’re working to help women and girls live empowered lives where they experience freedom, respect and opportunities.
We’d love for you to get involved in our work and support our work. Scroll below to read more.
Cleaning Solutions Boost Empowerment
(June 26, 2018)
We’re so pleased the women who participate in the Quito Women’s Program are learning new skills to become more independent and contribute to their families’ sustainability.
Teresa Jimenez and her husband Jose have overseen the Women’s program for ER’s Quito Dump Program for many years. Teresa and dozens of ER staff and volunteers have invested greatly into the lives of these women, most of whom work as recyclers at the Zambiza Garbage Transfer Station (Quito Dump). Some work as street recyclers and collect items from dumpsters located in various parts of the city.
The women face danger from working in the trash and find the work is physically taxing. So the opportunity to learn new skills and develop new sources of income are welcomed.
The women pictured are learning how to create cleaning products to sell to their communities. Many also make and sell decorative crafts and tortillas. Thank you Teresa for pouring into these women!
Quito Women: 18-Year-Old Discovers Peace
(Feb. 19, 2018)
I am Valeria and I am 18. My two brothers and I live alone with my mother.
I first came to the Women’s Group at the Quito Family Resource Center five years ago with my aunt.
Attending this group has helped me in every way. It changed my life.
With help and encouragement, I felt all my problems left and I had peace. Before, I often felt alone.
I now attend every Thursday and it continues to help me because listening to inspiring advise has changed my way of thinking and being. I have met many older women in the program who have made me see how mothers are always thinking of their children.
This has caused me to value my own mother more. I am thankful to be in the program!
Scroll below to learn more about ER’s Quito Dump program or click here. ER serves more than 50 women who are part of the trash recycling community every week through our Women’s Program, which provides nutrition, exercise, and life skills, mentoring and true community.
Empowering Women: Mercedes’ Inspiring Journey
The following story is one of ER’s Empowering Women blogs that highlight the journeys of women overcoming extreme circumstances to become successful leaders in their families and communities.
By Teresa Jimenez, ER Quito Dump Women’s Program Director
Recycling from the trash is dangerous, back-breaking work. It’s physically, emotionally and financially stressful, especially for the women who are caring for their families. But many are finding hope through our Quito Dump Women’s Program, which serves 70 women weekly.
Life has taken a dramatic turn for the better for two sisters in our Quito Women’s Program.
Mercedes lives with her two adult children and a granddaughter. She does not have a husband. She recycles in the street every night from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. She had a problem with her leg making it difficult for her to recycle by herself, so she needs help from her sister Mariana.
Mercedes makes just $60 a month through recycling so it was nearly impossible for her to afford medical help for her leg. ER was able to help her get a surgery and now her leg is doing better.
She first came to our program three years ago very empty and with very low self-esteem. Through our ladies club, she heard words of encouragement. She began to have hope.
Mercedes learned different craft-making skills through our workshops. She now makes and sells those recycled crafts with her sister. Selling crafts has helped her get ongoing treatment for her leg. She and Mariana also have a job cleaning a gym.
When the owner of a local gym asked for someone to clean, the two sisters stepped forward. They had a trial with the gym and the owner was very pleased with their work. They continue to work there today.
Earlier this year when Mercedes needed surgery to repair her leg, ER staff member Jen Emery raised the funds for her successful procedure. Today, with the help of ER donors and staff, Mercedes is using her life and business skills to sustain herself and help provide for her children and grandchildren.
Our investment in Mercedes is impacting three generations!
Mariana is the single mother of four children. The father of her last two children died recently and the father of the first two is an alcoholic. Michelle is the oldest daughter that graduated high school through our program and is a huge success story for the Quito Dump Community. Mariana’s son, Michael, also is doing well in the Quito After-School program.
Before our program, Mariana had problems with alcohol and what Jose Jimenez describes as an “empty heart” and bad emotions. By coming to our program, little by little she began to experience a “heart change”. She learned how to make hand-crafted goods and, ultimately, how to sell them.
Marianna’s partner recently died. This has been a difficult time for Marianna and her children, but thanks to her job, she can get by.
Rising Up, Taking Advantage Of Opportunities
About 18 months ago we realized the Quito women needed to take their craft business to a new level. Someone would need to represent all the craft-makers, organize them and handle the business operations.
Mercedes and Mariana stood out as great candidates to lead the other women in this venture. The sisters demonstrated faithfulness and showed the aptitude to do it. And they were willing to step into this role and lead the selling of the crafts.
Mercedes and Mariana were then trained and empowered to track inventory and sales, handle money and set up sales opportunities for all the women in the Quito Dump community who make the crafts.
Since stepping into this role, the sisters have organized multiple sales to visitors to Quito and at craft bizarres. This has allowed many of the women in the community to supplement their incomes and better care for their families.
Equally important is that many of the women have grown their self-esteem. They now have self-confidence and hope for the future. Mercedes and Mariana are two shining examples of lives that have been changed through our program.
Teresa and Jose Jimenez have served faithfully in the Quito Dump for many years. They provide strong leadership, counseling, skills training, food baskets and endless love to the members of the Dump Community.
Want to help more women like Mercedes? Giving is easy. Click here to access our donation page. Your gift is tax-deductible and ER will provide you with a receipt for tax purposes.