The Eldorado Textile Project provides training in textile skills to 40 women from the marginalized area of Eldorado, Sao Paulo, giving them a safe space to work, community support, therapeutic creative activity and an opportunity to earn a small income that increases their independence and self-esteem.
Eldorado, Sao Paulo, is an area of densely populated, makeshift housing with a history of poverty, violence and substance abuse. The main employment opportunity for women is to make a 1 1/2-hour commute to Sao Paulo city to work long hours as domestics for minimal wages. Children are vunerable to neglect and violence, and young people are easily drawn into alcohol abuse and cocaine addiction.
The Eldorado Textile Project provides a safe space at the ACER community centre, where training is provided to local women in textile skills, including hand embroidery, machine sewing, and cushion and bag construction. The participants are encouraged to work creatively and undertake creative projects such as drawing and embroidering scenes from their childhood. The project teacher/manager facilitates the sale of products made by the group at craft fairs in Sao Paulo.
The income made by the women from selling their textiles contributes to their self-esteem and independence, and many recent studies suggest that creative activities promote well-being. The women often bring children to the workshops and are likely to pass on their skills to the next generation. The project will therefore also contribute towards the long-term transformation of this disadvantaged area.