BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – A radiant old woman in traditional Peruvian Quechan dress and a doll fill the poster for “Palomita.”
Teresa Saval’s movie, “Palomita,” that documents how dolls change lives, plays at the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Hand-sewn dolls like Palomita (little dove in Spanish), the doll won in a raffle by Gwen, a 6th grade student at Kurn Hattin, improve life for families in Andahuaylillas, Peru.
At 12,000 feet, Andahuaylillas, outside of Cuzco in the Andes mountains, is big on grandeur due to the peaks and a famous church, but short on economic opportunities. Lucy Terrazas grew up in the region. She and her partner Julio Herrera moved back. Herrera came with experience in making wooden puppets and teaching at a Waldorf School in Lima.
The idea of making dolls had turned in his head for awhile. Terrazas and Herrera hired some women to help them fill a mattress with wool. What to do with the extra wool? How to keep four needy women employed?
The wool became the stuffing for dolls designed in a Waldorf inspired style by Herrera. The women embarked on artistic careers hand sewing dolls. Wool from sheep is washed and carded to use for stuffing or spun into thread. Weavers on traditional looms create cloth. Doll hair is spun alpaca wool.
Herrera says use of all-natural materials gives texture, and the soft shape of the dolls allows for a child to imagine and to feel more than plastic allows.
The workshop grew as the doll market grew from the plaza by the church to Australia, Europe, Canada, and the USA. Terrazas, in a video about the Q’ewar project on www.saffronrose.com, speaks of the vision of economic stability for women as a foundation for growth as human beings.
Natural light in the workshop, a shared hot meal, day care for young children, a Waldorf style kindergarten, an afternoon program for older children, education on hygiene and nutrition, above minimum wage salaries, and a month’s paid vacation make for a good work/life balance.
Herrera figures 100 families in the town of 6,000 benefit now from the Q’ewar project of doll making, felting, and sweater-making.
Teresa Saval is an early childhood educator. She suggests parental discretion for children under 12 years due to sensitive subject matter. Q’ewar dolls range in price from $20 to $100. Dolls will be available to buy on cash or check basis.
Saval’s documentary runs 54 minutes. The show has a $5 suggested donation.