We learn new techniques
Wednesdays are busy days at the Fundacion Solidaridad offices in Santiago. It’s the day of the week when members of the various workshops travel in from suburbs and farther afield to work with designers Paulina Montalva and Soledad Molina.
Emiliana Castillo and Margarita Vivanco are members of Pudahuel, a small workshop of seven people based in Santiago. The group makes craft items including jewellery, but not all of them will learn new designs direct from the designers.
"These sessions are extremely important," Emiliana said. "Here, when we sit down with the designers, we are learning new techniques. We are also incorporating new materials to techniques which we are now familiar with."
"It is very important to come in and meet the designers. It means we will be skilled in working in other materials and when the designers come out with new ideas, we will be trained in working with the new materials."
We will pass on all the skills
The Wednesday session is just the starting point, as Margarita explained. "After today’s session we will have a group meeting with the workshop. We will pass on all the skills we have learned."
"It means we are skilled in making another product and that means we will receive more orders and have more work."
"It is important because not only will we receive more orders, but it gives us more time to spend together in the workshop as a group where we can talk, discuss, have fun and make money for each of the families."
As well as being shown the new designs, the women learn how much of the material to use, cutting down on waste.
Fundacion Solidaridad began more than 30 years ago as part of the Cooperation Committee for Peace in Chile (Copachi), supporting the production and sale of handicrafts made by political prisoners detained in prisons and detention camps.
Today, its small team in Santiago includes designers and sales staff whose aim is to help Chilean people – many of them women – to improve their quality of life by producing handicrafts and finding new markets.