After years of planning and working, the Puente Inca knitting cooperative has broken ground on its new knitting center!
In 2010, the community of Puente Inca suffered devastating floods that destroyed most houses. The cooperative was formed in the wake of these floods, to help the women earn income and get back on their feet.
In 2011, the knitters decided they wanted to build a knitting center, and Awamaki secured a grant and a school service group to help build the center. But because of unclear land usage regulations related to the flooding and the Incan ruins in the area, they were unable to secure land and the center was never built. (The grant money was diverted to cover other costs with the permission of the funder.)
Fast forward to last year, when Awamaki's other knitting cooperative, just down the road in Rumira, acquired land and broke ground on their new knitting center with the help of grants, donations (like yours!) and service groups. Within months, the Puente Inca knitters had also purchased land and were ready to build!
The women not only raised and contributed enough money to buy the land for a community knitting center. They also secured donated skilled labor and committed to hosting the service groups that would help with construction and its funding.
Ground was first broken in April, but the intensity of construction has picked up with more group visits this month.
The most service group arrived in Puente Inca with twenty-four volunteers from the US and nearly as many curious, stray dogs in tow. The kids looked around for the knitting center they would be working on and realized that it was in front of them - an empty plot of land with a hole in each corner.
The local construction supervisor split them into three groups—one to cut rebar, one to bend the rebar into half a million identical rectangles, and one to dig holes for the columns. The two rebar groups were building poles for columns that would be cemented into the holes being dug. The group also passed rocks and took plenty of water breaks. By the time they left, the rebar for the cement columns was in place--and a whole lot of rocks had been moved to where they needed to go!
The knitting center, so long in the making, is finally rising. Maritza, the cooperative's treasurer, told us how much the center meant to her.
"This has been our dream," she said. "Now we will have a place to keep our materials. We can buy equipment too, because we have a place to keep it now."
The women's husbands and sons who worked on the center were also enthusiastic. "This is a good project," said the husband of one of the knitters as he headed back to his house to pick up some more tools for the worksite. "They can earn money, and help themselves and each other."
M. Kennedy Leavens