From Waldorf Teacher, JoAnne April, 2005

Crossing the threshold of Wawa Munakuy,
Quechua for “giving love to the children", I felt a tear fill my eye as
I released a sigh of gratitude.This newly initiated Waldorf-inspired
school for the children of Andahuaylillas, Peru, provided a stark
contrast to the humble adobe dwellings in which the children live, for
the most part, without light, running water, heat, or toileting
facilities. The rose colored walls of Wawa Munakuy surrounded the
children with an uplifting yet gentle warmth. One by one the children
pulled on a pair of wool slippers crochetedby their teacher Señora
Jesusa. Their legs dangled eager with anticipation as they gazed at the
nature tableau adorned with river tumbled stones and gnomes who stood
guard over the harvest of maize, amaranthus, and sunflowers.Shining in
the children’s eyes was a tiny star of hope – for a future a little
brighter than the one I imagined for them when I first visited the
Q’ewar Project three years ago.In the hours that followed the children
tossed and rolled hand-made woolen balls, dressed up for imaginative
play draped in typical Peruvian fabrics, hugged dolls and played in the
security of a healing environment made possible by the Q’ewar Project
as well as by donations from students and families of the Lake
Champlain Waldorf School, NOVA Natural Toys, and Jamie Two Coats Toys
in Vermont.Also the San Fransisco Waldorf School, and the Pennsylvania
Prayer Circle who have been recent contributors to Wawa Munakuy.
Despite the unexpected departure of Señora Lourdes, Waldorf school
teacher from Lima, the children are well cared for by Señora Jesusa and
enthusiastic volunteer Tina from Berlin.

There are so many
additional images I could share with you that could capture the
enormous growth of the Q’ewar Project but I will mention just a few I
have witnessed n the course of my annual volunteer visits over the last
three years. First, the Project has grown to serve almost 120 women
(registered with Lucy to work-some only come sporadically) beyond the
original four or five doll makers. Now there are 18 doll makers! It is
inadequate to describe with mere words but, one can readily see for
oneself, there is a growing vibrancy in the social fabric that enfolds
these women and children as they struggle to rise above the extreme
hardships of severe poverty. This vibrancy can be felt in the caring
counsel the women extend to each other and in the sympathetic
recognition of their collective domestic struggles – and even violence.
A newfound enthusiasm is growing for self care through the activity of
simple hygiene or laundering clothing. For many children at Wawa
Munakuy, this is the first opportunity for brushing teeth and with it
grows the hope for improved dental health.In many cases, by adolescence
several teeth are lost to decay. With your continued support for Q’ewar
services we plan to continue dental hygiene and restoration

Those of you who have seen the dolls,
weavings, and crocheted or knitted clothing recognize that the artistic
skills are of the highest quality. Without viewing it firsthand it
would be challenging to imagine the work entailed in producing each
doll or product. Every aspect of this work is first and foremost born
out of raw substance and perseverance. Namely, rocking a large
millstone to pulverize the cochineal exo-skeletons to tint the alpaca
or wool bayeta cloth fibers for the doll clothing. Tinting cotton knit
doll bodies in tea baths to attain the rich pigment for the doll skin.
Teasing animal and plant waste out of heaping piles of alpaca.
Meandering around the Q’ewar compound twisting a drop spindle to hand
wind alpaca fiber into yarn. Hand washing and air drying yards of
naturally tinted wool stretched above the ground to cure in the sun.
Suspending yards upon yards of warping for a loom so that mother can
weave half inch trim used as doll clothing ornamentation while her
daughter curiously looks on awaiting her time to work the seseveral
hundred year old traditions.

In a passing moment I gratefully
observed the pondering gaze of a doll maker as she looked upon the
mysteriously intricate work of two weavers who had traveled by foot
many hours in order to receive the “fair wage” for work the Project
guarantees its participants. A portable backstrap loom was pounded
stake by stake into the hardpan earth, then warped by tossing balls of
handspun naturally tinted alpaca between the two women working
together. In a matter of weeks the intricately patterned fibers would
illuminate the ancient symbols that still speak to Peruvian lifeways
and values of reciprocity, hard work, and respect for the blessings of

Three years ago this same doll maker would have
been as poorly dressed, never have brushed her teeth, and would have
been required to carry her work along with her, walking in sandals made
from recycled automotive tires, hiking many hours away from her village
to secure even minimal compensation for her work. Indeed she may have
carried in her burden manta, two small chicks, recently hatched along
with some cracked corn to nourish them while weaver and fowl journeyed
to and fro between distant pueblos seeking the sustenance to secure
life for that day.

None of us involved in aiding the Q’ewar
Project can even begin to compare our efforts to the day to day
dedication applied by Q’ewar founders, Julio and Lucy as they
selflessly serve their fellow campesinos of Andahuaylillas. Yet it is
not how much we help but that we help that makes a world of difference
in the reality of survival.Lastly, I wish to extend my appreciation to
dear friend and elder of 73 years who joined me from Vermont for a
portion of this trip. Ms. Margret provided the day-long joy, renewal,
and relief from life’s burdens. On an outing to a famous Inca ruin,
Q’ewar families giggled and wiggled down temple ruin slides and all
were lifted from their worries and pains.

One final
acknowledgment goes to all you readers for your past – and future –
support. On behalf of the women and children of Q’ewar, thank you for
your spirit of Wawa Munakuy “giving love to the children” and their
mothers. Little by little, step by step, we can remove some of the
hindrances that inhibit hope.

JoAnne Dennee

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