Monday, August 9, 2010

Will We Return to the Garbage?

Maria Argentina is an active member of AFE´s newly-formed, Luz y Esperanza. The five women who make up this small business create paper-mache beads from newspaper found in the garbage dump. They turn trash into treasure by producing beautiful necklaces.
Before joining the co-op, Maria Argentina stood in line for garbage trucks and ripped through trash bags in search of bottles, paper, and metals to resell. Although their earning potential was miniscule, her sons (Gerson, 12; and Oscar, 8) had to help to feed their family of six.
When Maria joined Luz y Esperanza in April of this last year, Gerson and Oscar became a part of AFE. Maria made the decision to put her boys in school because she wagered that if she could sell one necklace at 150 L ($7) every two days, they would earn enough to eat that evening. In the beginning, Maria´s gamble proved lucrative. An American volunteers serving at AFE helped the women to connect with many potential buys. But Luz y Esperanza´s advocate had to return to the States because her time of service was up. Now, Maria is worried that if they cannot find enough demand for their products, she will have to go up into the garbage again, and maybe she will need to take her two boys with her.

During the summer the visiting mission team helped to sustain them. But what will the woman of Luz y Esperanza do as fall approaches and AFE´s visitors taper off?

If you would like to help sell Luz y Esperanza´s jewelry in the States, contact

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