Fair trade with Voix Libres
1. The culture
Not only are peasants paid a fair price for their product and taking advantage of zero-interest micro-credits to finance their plantations, but the Voix Libres foundation supports the community with various types of support, including technical and logistical support, the use of a tractor, distribution of school supplies, and a health care programmeâ€¦
JosĂ©, who a year ago could not speak, never raised his head ! Â«I left the garbage dump to become an agricultural technicianâ€¦ now I grow quinoa near the salt lakes of Uyuni. I have learned to drive a tractor and I am the one responsible for it.Â»
2. Quinoa by-products and packaging
Some 20 women have been trained and rehabilitated by means of quinoa processing and by-product production. They earn decent wages and can participate in workshops to become financially literate, obtain school supplies for their children, and have access to health services and child care.
Labels, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, flyersâ€¦ are all Â« Made in Bolivia Â», which is a real achievement and always a challenge in a country where the roads are continuously being blocked and where there are very few products for export. A maximum portion of the added value is generated in Bolivia, thereby creating as many jobs and opportunities for reinsertion as possible.
JosĂ© was born and has lived in the garbage dump of Cochabamba. Today he is one of the leaders of our farms.
The quinoa women
Origin of the products
Quinoa and its by-products
Adolescents doing slave labour under the worst conditions (mines, streets, garbage dumpsâ€¦) being trained in agriculture.
Their parents and peasant communities, among the most marginalized of the Latin America, receiving micro-credits and support for the community.
Women from the slums of Cochabamba are making products derived from quinoa (muesli, flakes, flourâ€¦) and preparing them for sale..
A peasant community of Quinoa producers live a new life thanks to the help of Voix Libres: micro credits, training and technical support.
Collection of alpaca wool articles
Origin: Potosi, 4200m elevation
Producers: seamstresses, former guards in the mines
20 women make high quality products from alpaca wool, the cashmere of the Andes. After the traumatic experience in the mines, the mistreatment, the constant hunger pangs and the nightmarish housing conditions (stone shacks alongside the mountain, seven to a bed of stones), these women, often single mothers, get back on their own feet and begin a new life.
Â«Being an orphan, I grew up in a home with my seven brothers and sisters. At 15 I got married with a miner. I began working as a mine guard but we could never make ends meet. My husband was a severe alcoholic; he beat me and our children too. I wanted to kill myself... but I couldnâ€™t.
When I arrived in the weaving workshop of Voix Libres, they taught me everything. I became a workshop head. I am happy in this workshop with all the women I train. We talk about everything, about violence, alcoholismâ€¦ My husband has changed ; he no longer beats me. With my salary I no longer depend on him. â€¦I have realised my dream, to be a trainer.Â»
LiliĂˇn, workshop head
From the solitude of the mine...
....to an affectionate working group.
Collection of pencil bags, handbags, small bags, apronsâ€¦ from traditional Bolivian fabric
Origin: Cochabamba, 2500 m. elevation
Producers: Kara Kara women from the garbage dump
15 women from the slums carefully make various objects out of â€śaguayoâ€ť fabric, a typical multicolored fabric from Boliviaâ€¦
These completely excluded women live in the city outskirts in shack without running water, electricity, doors or windows, in the midst of daily pollution and violence.
Â«At 9 years old I began to work for a woman who slaughtered chickens. One day around Christmas she made us work for four days without sleep.....My hands were injured and my blood was getting mixed with that of the chickens until I no longer felt the pain. I barely earned 30 Bs a month (3 euros / 5 CHF). I had been exploited so much that when I got to the Voix Libres workshops, I was scared to death; I thought that there too they would try to hurt me. But I realized that there people truly wanted to help meâ€¦
Now I am head of the workshop and I am so happyâ€¦ I love the women I work with so much, I also want them to succeedâ€¦Â».
Marisol, workshop head.
From the filth of the garbage dump ...
.... to quality craftsmanship, producing articles for export!
Origin: La Paz
Producers : 10 young adults, former street children
Conceived at first as a therapeutic workshop in the heart of our home for street children, the production of nativities has enabled youths to have some stability in their lives and to develop a sense of beauty... and discover in themselves the soul of an artist. As the workshop expands they are able to become independent thanks to the income generated. Most of them are now fathers themselves!
The artistsâ€™ poem â€“ ceramics :
Â«Thanks to ceramics, our lives have changed.
In this world where I only knew humiliation,
where my rights had been violated,
My only option was the streets.
I was destroying myself under my own eyes,
My only friends were drugs and alcohol.
Voix Libres, I didnâ€™t know you existed.
One day, together, we discovered a new world
Before, my hands didnâ€™t know the feel of the soft clay,
My hands shaping, giving life to my imagination,
Transforming my dreams into art and enabling me to reach the sky,
claim my rights, tell the world how I feel.
Since I have left the streets my hands are those of an craftman,
I will no longer experience violence, I will no longer be hungry
My body will no longer suffer from cold,
Now I will earn my bread in dignity,
And return to the streets every night to offer my sisters and brothers this new hopeÂ»
From violence in the streets...
...to the loving and meticulous creation of the most beautiful nativities in Bolivia!
Rainbow scarves and anti-sadness dolls
Origin: La Paz, 4,000 m elevation
Producers: Rural women of the Lake Titicaca region and the slums of El Alto
250 women were trained to hand knit the rainbow collection and to do handicrafts at home...a wonderful opportunity in these areas with high unemployment affected by rural exodus.
These mothers can thus take care of their children while improving their family incomes.
We provide the raw materials, and they train each other and hand in their creations once a month. They meet regularly and help each other, launching joint projectsâ€¦ They changed from being silent, fatalistic victims into joyful entrepreneurs and form a genuine family together.
Self-help circle on Lake Titicaca
After the horrors of the streets....enjoying the beauty of weaving
Collection of pencil bags, handbags, aprons...made of traditional Bolivian fabric
Collection of alpaca articles
Origin: Machacamarca, 4,000 m. elevation
Producers: Women and young students of rural Oruro
Pioneer Voix Libres workshop of Machacamarca, created over 15 years ago by some 30 women and youths.
Just before the workshop was opened, 3 women had died of cold in the countrysideâ€¦this explains the urgent need to create jobs to provide income in what has become a disaster area following the collapse of mineral prices.
Today, men and women in the sewing workshops are essentially poverty-stricken youngsters, who, thanks to the training and salary provided by Voix Libres, can now continue to study while working. The young women, often single mothers, are thus given the unique opportunity to become qualified workers and to continue the struggle to bring up their children.
Nora,who,can now train to become a language teacher thanks to Voix Libres.
Origin : Cochabamba, 2'500 m altitude
Producers : Young boys from the slums of Kara Kara
Thanks to the Voix Libres leather workshop, poverty-stricken youngsters can train to become craftsmen while continuing their studies.
Each year, they produce hundreds of pairs of shoes for the orphans from the mines, from rural areas and from Bolivian streetsâ€¦and they have created their own model for export
Calixto, aged 20, grew up in the Kara Kara garbage dumpâ€¦today, he trains others and is a workshop foreman. These are his words to an assembly of 100 young leaders:
Â« My past life has been nothing but failuresâ€¦and today for the first time I feel confident that I shall succeed because I am no longer alone. This year Iâ€™m going to initiate ten more young people into the secrets of leatherwork. Â»Â
After a childhood among the garbage...
Calixto has become a master shoemaker