Sometime last year, Hermana Gloria Sucilli (shown at left) of the Mujeres Jireh livelihood group calculated prices. She sent word that she (and therefore SEED) could decrease the cost of the handwoven cloth & leather bags if we didn’t use natural dyes. The decrease would be nice, but we thought it would be better to keep the natural dyes and market the bags accordingly. But to be honest, I wasn’t sure.
After visiting Hermana Gloria and the group she works with, I’m sure.
As a small church plant in Cusco, Peru, they began a day care. When Hermana Gloria found out that a child’s mom didn’t have work, she invited the mom to work with her. Now, she has four women who work with her, including two who only speak Quechua.
Hermana Gloria started showing us the stove and where they boil water and various concoctions they have in buckets around their workroom. Then she changed into her traditional clothes and gave us a fascinating lecture.
That green colored-wool? That was dyed with eucalyptus leaves. That yellow color? She showed us a boiling pot of leaves turning another batch of wool yellow. The centerpieces of her presentation were two tables, one full of various kinds of leaves and natural dyes, and one with balls of yarn showing the final colors. You can see a picture of a small set of the plants used to make these dyes on the right.
The recipes for the dyes, and the patterns they weave, have been handed down in their families from Incan and pre-Incan times. They have inherited a passion to care for God’s creation, and a passion to share their Peruvian culture.
Are the bags her group makes a bit expensive? Somewhat. The traditions they embody? Priceless.
(This article and a couple additional photos will also appear in an upcoming issue of World Missions People Magazine (https://seedlivelihood.org/fmwm/world-mission-people-magazine/))