Artisan Organization: Idelsa Guevara
"Learning to knit was an incredible experience. I felt more active than ever. I had never enjoyed anything so much!
"I'm an active woman, resourceful and decisive. I'm Idelsa Guevara Guerrero, born in 1968 in the warm and tropical province of Piura.
"My grandmother raised me. I never had the opportunity of playing with dolls as a child because our financial situation was quite precarious. As a girl, I began working as a household helper with a family who lived nearby. Grandmother did what she was able to, and she and I took care of each other.
"In this way, I learned to earn an honest income. I took all kinds of jobs and worked very hard. But this helped me grow as a woman.
"In 1983, I moved to Lima. That year the storms and floods greatly affected our village so we sought a place that was more secure. It was hard finding a new home in the big city and we faced many obstacles. But all of this simply made me stronger.
"I found a small hillside house in a poor neighborhood. A group of volunteers organized workshops there for those of us who couldn't pay for classes. With some of my neighbors, I signed up to learn a skill. I met the man I married there but our economic situation was bad. It got worse when our children were babies. We really had to be creative to pay the bills and feed them.
"I began attending talks and taking courses on textiles, knitting and crochet. I worked very hard to perfect my skills. It took time. Many times, I had to rip something apart and start over with the yarn. The key was to be constant in my work. Today I feel competent enough to teach others.
"I decided to work from home and make things I could sell. It was tough but I was determined and, with only 50 soles, I bought yarn to create samples. I thank God that I got some orders for ponchos and I formed a group with the neighbor women. Together, we filled the orders and had more money to invest in materials.
"So far, I've faced all the obstacles together with my family and they're the most important people in my life. It's gratifying to share what I've learned over the years. All my life's experiences helped me teach my children to be good people and to work for their dreams.
"Knitting and crocheting are my passion. I especially like to create samples of new designs. When people like them, I feel so happy! I work with two other women and, together, we help one another and work to achieve the best results. We love textiles and learn something new every day.
"I want to continue to grow, to reach many shoppers in Peru and in the world, to cross borders with my art and see it appreciated and valued. My dream is for my children to enjoy life and continue together, with hope for a future filled with work, love and family harmony.
"My inspiration comes from nature, from the countryside and the towns and villages of Peru. I think often of Piura with its rivers and animals. All this brings life to my heart and motivates me to knit and create.""