Last month I had the privilege of speaking with Ana from Hope Jewellery Project, Peru who make several of the beautiful products sold by Just Trade.
At 23 years old Ana is one of the youngest and newest members of the team. Ana was studying at University when she fell pregnant and had to pause her studies to look after her son, Daniel. Ana’s mother in law, Primi, has been working with Hope Jewellery and Just Trade for over 10 years now. Knowing how invaluable the flexible work was for her when she was nursing her youngest son, Bryan, Primi suggested that Ana ask if there were any opportunities. Project leader Cristina spent an afternoon training Ana how to make earring hooks, she picked it up really quickly and has been happily making hooks ever since. Being able to work part time and from home means that she is able to give full attention to Daniel when he needs it, and is able to work while he is sleeping.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Ana’s parents who ran a street food stall selling donuts soon found themselves with no income. Ana and her mother decided to start making crochet dolls and toys. Selling them to friends, neighbours and anyone who was interested, so she could pay the bills. It was only then that the team at Hope Jewellery discovered that Ana could crochet and she was very good!
You may have seen the range Just Trade has produced for the “Guide Dogs Shop”, Ana designed a crochet guide dog key ring based on photos of Guide Dogs, sent to her for inspiration. Ana has trained several other women to make them too and they have been so popular that Guides Dog Charity want to add more to the range. Excitingly this range has made it to the final of Gift of the year 2022. When I told Ana this, she was overjoyed “I can’t believe it! This makes me so happy, these key rings are my favourite product to make, so if this award means I get to make more - I’m overjoyed!”.
I asked her what she would like to say to everyone who’s bought one of the products she has made; “It’s great when a product I’ve made is popular. It gives me and the other women such a boost of confidence. I put so much love and dedication into each piece I make. Anyone who’s bought one has a little piece of my heart.” She went on to say “I enjoy learning new skills. This work has given me the opportunity to express my creativity and do what I love and make a living. I wake up some mornings and I can’t believe it. I'm forever grateful to the Hope Jewellery team for trusting me and giving me the opportunity. I’m working as hard as I can now to give my son the best future I can offer him. In the future I am hoping to back to university and finish my studies.”
It was such an honour to interview such an inspiring woman. At only 23 years old she has established a name for herself in her community and is doing what she loves as a living to give her son the best future she can offer him. Ana now holds a very special place in my heart.