YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN

Since this school year, which started in March, the knitting mothers of Solid Peru have been able to go back to school. If they want to.

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Solid Peru starts with a shortened education to obtain a primary of secondary school diploma. Two teachers, one for the primary school and one for the secondary school, teach 2 days a week from 8h until 12h. They do this in the knitting workshop itself. If the production in the atelier is too high, the lessons shift to Saturday.

In only 2,5 years, our student mothers can graduate. They can finally read and write. This way they also get the chance to start with higher education.

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The lessons are completely free – the Peruvian government finances this – and Solid’s nursery is just next door.

The enthusiasm is everywhere!

What would you do if you had to stop your studies at 13 to 14 years old because you got pregnant or were too poor?

Of course, you grab the second chance with both hands!

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That’s what our passionate knitting and teenage mothers do. Already 52 knitting mothers and 8 adolescents have registered. Even ex-knitting mothers are very motivated and pass by to start all over again.

Education gives strength, says Solid.

If you really want to and fight for it, you can do it!

Our knitting and teenage mothers are determined to graduate from primary and secondary education.

They really go for it...

 

And they’re right!

 

Bombyx, tales of India: beautiful khantas from Ranchi, India

Bombyx, tales of India: beautiful khantas from Ranchi, India

Khantas are a kind of traditional embroidered patchwork from India and popular at home because of their great bohemian look. Perfect as a plaid for your queen bed, hippy Indian tapestries, a blanket on the beach or in the garden, a cotton sofa and even cushion covers and curtains. Made from upcycled sari cloth, sewn by hand and repaired with patches over time, they are one of the most sustainable quilts available.

Khantas have no filling; they are made from layers of sarees to create thickness and texture. This makes them quite insulating and incredibly comforting. Generations of Indian mothers and daughters have been passing these brightly colored versatile products within the family. True bohemians, re-cycling and re-using.

Each one of our khantas are unique in many ways:

  • Each khanta is handmade.

  • The patchwork of these fabrics results in unique products—no two are ever the same.

  • Each item is accompanied by a fascinating story of a poor, but strong Indian woman who made your khanta

  • In addition to being beautiful, the khantas are practical, versatile and sustainable!

 The khantas are available 140 cm * 200 cm. (*) They come in a variety of colors and designs.

 Solid’s atelier ‘Paces Crafts’ helps stop human trafficking in Ranchi, India

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By buying unique, handmade ‘Bombyx, Tales of India’ products, your customers not only receive a very beautiful and sustainable khanta, but they are also directly helping a poor woman and her family in this impoverished Indian region. 

The khantas are made in Solid’s atelier ‘Paces Crafts’ in the extremely poor Indian state Jharkand. The sale is an important, sustainable and ecological source of income for local girls and women.

These young ‘tribal’ women are targets of rogue human traffickers. Each year about 100 000 of children and women are traded in India. They end up in slavery or prostitution. The human traffickers mislead the poor families, promising them an education and jobs with a good income. But they end up in hell: they are mistreated daily, hardly receive food and work 15 hours each day. Girls as young as twelve are kidnapped and sold as prostitutes.

When you purchase these khantas you, your company and your customers are actively helping to make the world a better place. This way you—together with Solid—are stopping this horrible human trafficking!

 When buying one of these products you and your customers also receive the unique story of the strong woman who handmade this product: an interesting and inspiring testimony of the maker. A purchase that immediately makes you feel good!

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By including ‘Bombyx, tales of India’ home decor products your store will become an example of how to take action in a warm, responsible and inspiring way!  

Has this social problem inspired you to take action? Are you excited about these eye-catching khantas? Then contact us as soon as possible because new khantas have just arrived from Ranchi, India—first come, first served.

Call Inge: 0032 473/93.76.19 or send an e-mail to inge@solidinternational.be 

*Are you interested in customized production? This is also possible! We would love to make the khanta, plaid, shawl, pillow, puff, carpet that you have always dreamed of. Email Inge for more information.

Bare Knitwear, a love story between a hipster brand and Peruvian knitting ladies. Meet the Solid Crafts partner: Kelsey from Bare Knitwear

Meet the Solid Crafts partner: Kelsey from Bare Knitwear

Hailing from North Vancouver, Canada, Kelsey Adair is the owner of Canadian based women’s knitwear label, Bare Knitwear. Kelsey has partnered with Solid’s workshop Manta in Ayacucho, Peru for the past six years for the production of Bare Knitwear’s signature line of handmade alpaca knits. We caught up with Kelsey to learn more about how she got her start in the fashion industry and where Bare Knitwear is at today.

Who are you, what is your motivation, what are your interests, where do you come from?

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My name is Kelsey Adair. I’m 30 years old and I come from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I’m the owner of the women’s knitwear line Bare Knitwear. I’ve always appreciated fashion and style, although most of the time you can find me in denim and a t-shirt. When it comes to fashion, I’m most passionate about the possibility to create change and impact the industry. Outside of work, I’m happiest climbing mountains on my bike, road tripping around North America with my fiancé and spending time at home with my large, crazy and loving family.  

How did you become your brand? 

I always knew I would have my own apparel brand however didn’t know how it would manifest. It wasn’t until I was working for a Canadian based clothing company in 2012 that the idea for a knitwear brand started to take shape. I was in charge of the purchasing for the store and bought apparel and accessories from independent designers across North America. Working directly with the store vendors re-sparked my desire to start a business of my own. At the time, more focus was being placed on locally made goods and I saw there was an increase in demand for handmade products. I knew how to knit, therefore after work and on the weekends I began to knit a collection of scarves to sell in the shop.

 For the next two years, I experimented with different knits and styles and studied the market. I educated myself on small scale production and gained as much wholesale and retail experience as possible. In 2014, I flew to Peru and met with Solid International. We placed our first order and my weekend hobby turned into a small business.

Professional Background?

From a young age, I was keen to develop a well-rounded knowledge of the apparel industry. I started my career in retail at the age of 16, working for a children’s clothing company. I pursued a post-secondary education in Fashion Business at John Casablanca Institute in Vancouver, Canada and have dedicated the last thirteen years to exploring different sales and management roles in the industry. Working for various small businesses over the years helped shape the values that I founded Bare Knitwear on. 

What dives you?

We are experiencing an amazing shift in the apparel industry at the moment. Social media has given people the opportunity to communicate directly with brands and stand up to common issues in the industry pertaining to size inclusively, sustainability, and ethical manufacturing. As brands we can receive direct feedback on our fits and fibres each season. We are driven by our customer. They motivate us to continue to challenge ourselves and improve on our weaknesses as a brand.

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What convinced you to choose Solid?

After the decision to start Bare Knitwear it was natural to follow my gut on the way I wanted to produce and do business. When I first decided to start the line I knew I wanted our manufacturing process to be ethical. It was difficult sourcing a partner that fell somewhere between an independent maker and mass producer who could execute my vision for handmade knitwear. 

Solid was a good fit for us as it fell somewhere in the middle. We could keep our handmade quality, produce on a small scale and there was room to grow with the organization. After travelling to Peru to 2014 before placing our first order, we saw how Solid was committed to not only the growth of our company but to the personal growth of the artisans making our product. 

 Which Solid Products do you sell the most of?

Our Baby Alpaca Coat has been our best-selling style over the past four years. Each year we work with the team at Manta to improve the finishing techniques and find solutions to problems based on client feedback. It just keeps getting better with age! 

How did you come up with your brand name?

Since the tenth grade I knew I wanted to own my own apparel line. I had a journal and wrote the word BARE in it amongst other possible names for my future clothing line or retail concept store. To me it represents minimalism and authenticity. When I hear the word I think of natural, un-fussy beauty. These are the ideas that the shaped the aesthetic of Bare Knitwear. 

What is your specific approach?

Less is more. We create our collections based off this philosophy. We offer a narrow assortment of products with high wear ability. Our designs are intended to serve as the backbone of our clients’ closet—timeless, easy to wear and comfortable. Our design is simple and made to serve the wearer for years.

What do you hope to share with those who purchase your garments and bring it intimately into their lives? 

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When designing each collection we make an effort to use fibres and create shapes that don’t feel commercial. As our business grows, we make a conscious effort to maintain the feel and quality of small batch handmade knitwear. We hope this feeling translates to our customers and we provide pieces that are special and unique. We want our customers to know who made their clothes and know that they are a part of not only the growth of Bare Knitwear, but the growth of Manta and the artisans behind the label.

How do you look at the fashion-textile sector?

I view the current state of the fashion sector as a huge area of opportunity for improvement. Today more than ever consumers are more aware and conscious of who made their clothes and what their clothing is made from. Consumers are putting more pressure on brands to be more transparent when it comes to their manufacturing. We are starting to see more small scale brands set this example and it makes me hopeful for a more sustainable industry in the future. 

 Glass Half-empty or Half-full?

Both! Half-empty because there’s always room to improve, and to strive for more. Half-full because it’s important to be grateful for what you already have and see the positive in even the toughest of times.

Where do you see your work going in the next couple of years?

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Since our start in 2014, Bare Knitwear has been shifting from solely an accessories collection into more apparel. We are currently focused on continuing to bring more variety into our collections. Up until now, we have focused on offering one collection a year for the Fall-Winter fashion season. We are at an exciting stage where we have developed a strong sense of who we are as a brand and who our customers are, which is allowing us to expand our offering with confidence. We are working on introducing our first collection of lighter weight pieces in pima and organic cotton designed to be worn year-round. Our goal is that by 2020 we will have two core collections of essential pieces to offer our clients.  

Less pleasant aspects?

I don't mind working long 12 hours day consistently because I love what I do and I'm lucky to be able to do it. The hard parts for me have been learning to deal with all the things that are out of my control as a business owner. Whether that's having a shipment stuck in customs halfway around the world for weeks, dealing with a volatile CAD dollar, or fluctuating lead times from yarn suppliers to name a few.

Daily Working Routine?

It changes all the time! That's part of what we love. In sales season, I'm travelling via car, boat and plane to visit retail stores. During launches and deliveries I'm hauling boxes in and out of storage and packing orders all day. And during design season I'm analysing swatches and skyping with our technical designer in Belgium! Somewhere between all that, I'm overlooking our budget and accounting, and in constant communication with our production facilities on lead times and production planning. A couple Saturdays each month I work on the sales floor at one of the stores we sell Bare Knitwear to in Vancouver. It gives me the opportunity to stay connected to my customers, get first-hand feedback and detect trends and industry direction.  

The best day of my life?

When we visited Peru in April we had the privilege of visiting Olga. Olga has been employed at the workshop for six years and has recently started working from home. Upon entering her charming apartment, we heard the sound of the manual knitting loom working away upstairs. It was a Monday morning and Olga was working on her sixteenth fine gauge beanie from our Fall-Winter 2018 collection. We were welcomed into her vibrant home in Ayacucho by her teenage daughter. We spent the next couple hours learning about each other, our families and our life experiences. I never would have imagined I would have the privilege to work with women like Olga in my lifetime. It's easy to sit behind a computer and communicate with the people who are making your garments but when you get chances like this, it changes why you continue to do the work you do. This is why I love Solid.

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Meet Joris, sales manager of Solid Food

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April 2016… after an amazing two years and a half in Ayacucho I say good-bye, with pain in my heart, to my wonderful colleagues from Solid Peru. I made one last joke about my new job in Belgium: I was going to work for Antwerp’s diamond sector (“diamant”), not that big a difference, because only one letter is different from “Diamanta”. After two interesting years in the diamond sector, I ended up in the insurance sector again (those 10 years at Vanbreda keep on haunting me…). Soon I realized this was not quite what I was looking for… I wanted a more meaningful job again. One day, as a gift from heaven, Lyn contacted me… if I wasn’t interested to work for Solid Food… and a few weeks later the knot was already cut.

I’m very glad that I’m allowed to contribute to the further expansion of Solid Food, a company with a lot of potential and great ambitions. I’m going to concentrate on the further commercial expansion, but also –together with Laura- work in the field of logistics, planning, etc. Yet I notice that the underlying goal, that is giving the farmers in Ayacucho a fair income, is very motivating for me.

For sure you’ll get to know me better in the coming period. But here I give you already a few ‘DYKs’.

·         In Peru one of my hobbies was adding fun but unknown touristic places on Google Maps. Of course I recently put “Solid Food Europe” also literally on the map.

·         I have an amazing wife who I met on the plane somewhere between Guinea and Morocco. We have three talented children who are very sporty. This means that we often play a taxi to go to football, basketball or athletics.

·         I also try to exercise a bit myself: once a week suffering well through squash and every month we organize a beautiful hike with some friends.

·         Now that I’ll be back in Peru every now and then, I’m going to try to make the adventurous trip with Peter to the “Catarata las Tres Hermanas”, a fairly unknown but yet the third highest waterfall in the world(!), in the selva of Peru.

·         I try to kick out biscuits, chips, etc. To keep it tolerable, I only eat sweets in the weekend… so don’t try to tempt me with too many goodies when I’m in Ghent…

My family (at the time of Peru)    

My family (at the time of Peru)    

…and slightly more recent (last summer)

…and slightly more recent (last summer)

Paces Crafts (Solid India), where I found the job of my life!...

“Though I am a good seamstress, I was not able to find a suitable job.

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And then my father got ill. We had to borrow money to pay for his medical treatment. And since I could not find a job as a seamstress, repaying this loan was very hard.

So my only option was to work as a cleaning lady in other people’s homes, a job I did not enjoy at all, it made me sad and depressed. However, I did not give up and kept on looking for a better future. And guess what …. I found myself a job in the workplace of Paces Crafts.

Whow, a real handicraft workshop, finally …!

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I immediately felt at home. I was welcomed and loved.

And one day they chose me to manage an order with another group of seamstresses. This made me so proud!

It makes me so happy that I am now able to support my family, and this by doing a job where I am being appreciated and where I can use my skills as a seamstress. Some previous acquaintances, with whom I have just met  recently, told me I look so much better and happier.

And that is exactly how I feel right now!...”

Nirmala

HIGH UP IN THE ANDES SARAI ENJOYS A WARM SHOWER FOR THE FIRST TIME

Sarai (15) lives high in the Andes Mountains in Ayacucho, Peru. As no hot water comes out of the faucet, she washes herself outside with cold water in a basin.

Sarai is one of the pupils participating in the Solid’s Jovem training.  

Together with Ketnet presenter Sarah she made a solar shower. This is part of  Solid’s project ‘Familias Saludables’ (healthy families). Together with the families Solid works on health, well-being, and techniques to improve houses. For example they build bathrooms and install solar showers.

 
 

Watch again this episode of  ‘Really Clever - Goed Gezien!’ – Ketnet’s TV show in which presenters Charlotte, Jelle, Sarah and Maureen travelled around the world looking for the craziest inventions to solve issues in developing countries. And see for yourself how Sarai and her family can finally enjoy a nice hot shower for the first time. Heart-touching.

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Friday – Solid Crafts Inspirational Session

Fair fashion inspiration session  – hosted by Lyn Verelst, general manager Solid

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Do you also like to take the initiative?

Do you, like Solid, also want to start something sustainable in crafts, lifestyle, fashion, deco?

Belgium appears to be full of committed people who want to roll up their sleeves. Nice!

A lot of questions about this are currently going to Lyn, general manager and initiator of Solid vzw, who liked to respond to this.

However, Lyn is only one woman and the questions are many…

So we thought: why not make an interesting questions-happening?

Once every 2 months there will be: Solid Crafts Inspirational Session.

The next one is May 24th 3.30 pm – 5.30 pm.

 

Nothing but PROFIT POINTS:

The questions and requests are bundled and can then be asked, so everyone can profit from it… 

Ideas are exchanged…

The participants learn from each other’s items… 

Questions and themes can also be introduced in advance so that Lyn can respond to it…

And you take the answers home!

 All of this for free! Maybe you can support the initiatives of Solid in return.

Your voluntary contributions to our fair workshops can be done on the account number 523-0808634-20 with notification ‘Support Solid Inspirational – crafts’.  

APPOINTMENT AT THE OFFICES OF SOLID VZW, KORTRIJKSESTEENWEG 697, 9000 GENT ON FRIDAY MARCH 24 FROM 3.30 PM - 5.30 PM.

Please contact Inge to confirm your attendance: inge@solidinternational.be - 0032 473 93 76 19. And please forward us your approach and most important questions. This way Lyn can prepare herself even more carefully.

 YOU ARE VERY WELCOME.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

 Solid

Give Devora and her daughter a chance for a better future

Are you giving Devora, 15, and her daughter a chance for a better future together? You can make this possible for only 70 € contribution / month.

Devora is 15 years young.

She lives together with her partner and daughter.

From an early age, she does not live anymore with her parents, but often on the street. Her mother died when she was little girl and her father lives with his new wife, without any interest in his daughter.

 
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When she decided to live alone in a rented room, she was constantly mistreated by her partner's parents.

As she is still a minor, it was difficult for her to find a job to pay for her room.

So she decided to return to her partner and her in-laws.

 Together with her partner and daughter she shares a small room. The room is made of brick and is divided into a small bedroom, kitchen and dining room. There is only access to drinking water and electricity.

 Devora is currently studying in the second year of high school. Her dream is to become a nurse.

 

With a contribution of 70 euro monthly Devora can continue her secondary studies, she can provide daily food for herself and her daughter and every 15 days she gets a visit from a social worker of Solid who will strengthen her empowerment and her independence. 

 Do you want to give Devora and her little girl this opportunity? Would be great!

Moreover, your contribution of 40 euro or more is tax deductible : you will receive fiscal certificate for it in 2020. So, the real cost is much lower for you : +- 45% lower.

Contact Solid to give you more information (inge@solidinternational.be 0473 93 76 19) or make your  - monthly -  contribution on:

Banque de la poste, Rue des Colonies (P28), 1000 Brussel, Belgium
account : 000-0000004-04
IBAN code: BE10 0000 0000 0404
BIC code: BPOTBEB1

Reference : tge – solid - devora


Who made your clothes? Aurora made your clothes.

Ask us who made your clothes.. please! We will give you names and stories about their families, we’ll show you safe work conditions and fair wages.

We would like to show you things can be different.

 You can find here the story of Auroraknitting mom and supervisor in Solids workshop named Manta in Ayacucho, Peru. Listen to her voice and her story and be inspired.

We believe all lives are equal, so no one should be underpaid or in danger for others to be able to buy cheaper clothes. No more horrors like Rana Plaza in 2013 where 1138 people lost their lives.

 Ask your favourite brands questions! Ask them who made your clothes, in what circumstances. Ask for transparency.

Ask us : we will give it to you, with pleasure!

It’s a long process, but the revolution has started and won’t back down again.

Support sustainable and ethical brands, be part of the fight for equal rights.

It’s your chance to ask.

 

Make a change, be the change!

 

Thank you for joining us in this fight and revolution!! Together we can make a difference!!

Let’s rise by lifting others!

 

 

 

Meet the volunteer: Stien Cosemans

Hello everybody,

Times flies while having fun, right! Hard to believe my work at Paces Crafts has already come to an end.

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Indra (general manager) often told me: ‘India, it is quite an adventure’. And yes indeed it has been a big adventure for me. I look back with so much love and gratitude on the past months.

At Paces Crafts I have mainly focused on the HR department, therefore 1 of my highlights was the “Why-workshop”. Our goal was to find the “Why-statement” of Paces Crafts where all employees can identify themselves with. We had personal conversations with all the artisans and the management staff  about their most proud moment at the company. Very touching stories came out on which we based our “Why-statement”, namely: To empower people so that, together, we can contribute to a world where everybody matters.

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Besides other HR related work, like employee evaluations and helping to set up a new management structure, I had the chance to support the communication- and finance team. It was very interesting for me to learn multiple facets within the company. Every Wednesday I gave English course to the Hindi- speaking management staff. The goal was to teach them basic questions which they can use when guests visit us. In January during a visit of one of our clients, they were tested for the first time and I was so proud. Sunita, our knitting supervisor, is normally very shy to speak English in front of other people. During the course she didn’t want other ladies to hear her speak because she was afraid they would make fun of her. I was very surprised and especially very proud when she asked in group with self-confidence questions in English to our guests.

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Many unforgettable moments at work but certainly also many beautiful moments after work. And for this I have to thank the colleagues and the ladies. In advance I didn’t dare to dream of such a strong connection with all of them. Because of them I experienced the Indian lifestyle the fullest. The past months in Ranchi couldn’t have been any better. I will miss you all!

A big thank you,

Aao galey milen,

Stien

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Be our transport-savior!

We URGENTLY need to get 70 hand-looms in India and give 150 tribal women a decent job.

And a future!

Like a present out of heaven, we were given 70 never used traditional wooden handlooms that are actually stored in Antwerp. This is exactly what the poor woman need in our weaving workshop in Ranchi, India.

This is a golden opportunity, almost a miracle!

But the wooden looms have to be transported from Antwerp to Ranchi. The cheapest way is by boat. But even this has a cost.

 
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Be the savior for 150 woman in our workshop: assure the transport of the looms and as such give these Indian women a future. For themselves and their children.

A) Buy a second hand 20 ft container that will be used for the transport and afterwards in the workshop will become an additional workplace. Cost 1.400 euro.

B) Assure the first maritime transport Antwerp - Calcutta and transport to final destination Ranchi. Cost 3.500 euro

C) Assure the second shipment to Ranchi. Cost 3.500 euro

If you sponsor for the complete cost of option A: your name will be painted on the container that will become a workplace in Ranchi.

If you sponsor for the complete cost of option B or C: your name will be painted on the container and also will forever be on the walls in Solids workshop in Ranchi.

Of course, you will be fully updated about the progress and the project.

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Anyhow, any contribution is welcome. Any contribution will give underprivileged woman in Ranchi, India the perspective of a better life.

 Make your contribution now. As such you make the urgent shipment possible!

Moreover, your contribution of 40 euro or more is tax deductible : you will receive fiscal certificate for it in 2020. So, the real cost is much lower for you : +- 45% lower.

Make your contribution on:

Banque de la poste, Rue des Colonies (P28), 1000 Brussel, Belgium
account : 000-0000004-04
IBAN code: BE10 0000 0000 0404
BIC code: BPOTBEB1

Reference : tge – solid - handlooms

P.S. Don’t miss this opportunity to provide a better future for underprivileged and poor woman !

Thanks !!

Any question : contact Inge inge@solidinternational.be 0032 473 93 76 19

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Remembering forever Maria Huasacca, a talented knitting mom of Solids workshop in Peru.

Last week Solids workshop Manta in Ayacucho (Peru) was faced with a big loss. Maria Huasacca suddenly and unexpectedly died in a traffic accident. We lost a nice colleague and a very good knitting mom. She worked in Solids knitting workshop since 2014.

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Maria was as very cheerful person, talkative, joking with her knitting colleagues. She liked knitting a lot, was a fighter and she did not give up when faced with difficulties. She was very persistent.

We remember her saying, "I can do it and I will show you. Give me a chance and I'll prove everybody...."
She always proofed herself. For example, last weeks, she finished all her garments without rejection. She was so proud and happy. And so were our clients.

She will remain in our memories and in our hearts. She will stay with Solid forever by each of her anecdotes and stories she shared during so many years. We will keep her legacy in mind: "If you are faced with difficulties, do not give up, even if everyone tells you that you will not succeed. You must continue persisting until you succeed. Work on what you like, on what you are passionate about."
Maria, we will never forget you. Our warmest condolences to her husband and 5 children. Rest in peace.

 

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Meet the volunteer Willemijn

Willemijn was a volunteer @ Solid Peru for 6 months

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Willemijn Branderhorst is a young vibrant and highly creative Dutch therapist, that joined the team of Diamanta of Solid Peru for 6 months.

Her volunteering project was a collaboration between The Red Pencil and Solid in Peru. The Red Pencil is a Singapore based organization which brings the power of arts therapy around the world to children and families who have been through traumatic life circumstances, for which they have no words. Very often they work in conflict area or with asylum seekers.  Their programs help people heal and grow through the arts, by offering an alternative way of expression towards balance, empowerment and resilience.

Willemijn tells us something more about her experiences with Solid in Ayacucho, Peru working with vulnerable youngsters.

 

Making contact as an art therapist

“During the first sessions I worked together a lot, we all made art together and this way we made contact and got to know each other. We worked for example together on a large surface. With crayons we scratched on music, together we experimented with scratching hard or soft, long lines, short lines. During this collaboration I could often observe a lot. Many teenage mothers have experiences that can be labeled as harmful / traumatic in clinical context. However, they wouldn´t use the term "trauma" their selves. From their culture it is not so much viewed from that (shocking) angle, but more like something that is / is happening within their culture. The girls therefore do not understand/take it directly as harmful. However, as an art therapist, I could see the damage in their behavior within arts and observe high levels of psychological stress and anxiety in all women. This manifested itself in different ways. Through the art therapy activities, this stress can be reduced. With colleagues we looked at which girls could use extra help, they have received individual art therapy sessions in addition to group sessions.

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From the vision of the organization, the goal was to increase the self-confidence and autonomy (self-determination) of the women, in order to be able to treat psychological problems such as traumas. In the visual therapy this was translated into increasing creative self-confidence;

·      Try out new (positive) experiences / actions;

·      Take space; scratch and draw on a large sheet.

·      Express feelings and thoughts; discuss with the group, write down, expression through art

·      Making choices; choose from different materials. Choose from different pictures. Choose from different activities

·      Indicate preferences/ needs /wishes; (in the present moment) indicate that you want to do certain exercises, indicate that you want to work with a certain material, indicate you yourself want to do a certain thing.

·      Possibly: discuss dreams/wishes in group.

 

Flexibility

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Flexibility proved to be one of the most important keys during this mission. I have always attuned my attitude and art therapy activities to the current situation, as a way to guarantee a safe feeling within the therapeutic space. As a therapist you have to be sharp, especially because not all girls feel their own limits equally well. Sometimes that meant I had to adjust my attitude or the therapeutic activity. For example, I had a teenage mother in individual therapy, in which during the debriefing a lot came up, she told me a lot about her past and her family. I noticed that she was sad but also angry, I named this. She herself suppresses this, talks a lot and fiercely, but then indicates that it is "passed and accepted". What emotionally is not yet the case. I feel a lot of anger / distrust / sadness with her, and I also notice how she talks about others (negative). … She wanted to scratch with crayons. …For a few minutes she scratched very hard, she fully scratched the sheet almost on her own. Then she indicated that she was ready. "What are we going to do with this sheet?" I asked. "You want to save it or you want to throw it away maybe?". "Throw it away!" She answered immediately. I put a trash can at her. She has torn off the sheet of tape attached to the table, torn into pieces and thrown in the trash. I saw her breathe deeply several times, and she did the tearing and throwing away with attention. She was quiet (normally she talks a lot) and then said "so" ("ya"). We then put the trash can out of sight. I noticed that it was a very important experience for her (feeling, processing, taking distance, without the judgment of therapist and herself).

Train the trainer

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Besides group workshops with the children and teenagers, I gave the caregivers of Solid, as well as teachers from different high schools practical instructions on how to apply art therapy activities within their social work, or within their classes. Several came to me afterwards and told me how they managed applying art therapy within their work setting or for their selves in their free time. We raised awareness of how important expressive activities are for us people, and that there exists such a wonderful and well developed ¨science¨ as Art Therapy. That expression is therapeutic for us, and not childish at all (that's the average belief here, that drawing or painting does not serve anything).

This six month mission has been an incredible, intensive and unforgettable experience for me. Also I learned a lot from the girls and people in Ayacucho. I never wanted to miss the opportunity. The girls, the teenage moms, the Solid staff: they are in my heart forever. “

 

Willemijn

2 on 10 teenagers between 12 and 19 years become a mother in Ayacucho, Peru (Endes 2017)

Luz Milena Beltrán Apaza “Being a teenage mom is complicate, but it’s not the end of te world.

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 Luz Milena Beltrán Apaza, is a young struggling teenage mom who is succeeding bur for the welfare of herself, her son and her family she keeps on figthing. She only needs opportunities to achieve her life goals. Solid is empowering her to take the opportunities she deserves . For her and her little boy.

There is an urgent need for policies and practices in the health and education sectors to reduce teenage pregnancy rates. Solid continues her fight on this!