After 1,5 day of soaking in energy and long morning rungs along the Miraflores coastline, sunny strolls and a overdose of Omega 3 (healthy fishy fats), we were more than ready to take our next flight to our final and most precious destination: Ayacucho.
Ayacucho is a small city high in the Andes, located between touristy Lima and Cuzco. Ayacucho, however, is all but touristy. The rare western people you see here are working for a ngo or good cause organisations. This pitoresque city has had quite a dramatic history of terror and violence not so long ago (80’s-90’s). Poverty has held stuck ever since. But the presence of several ngo’s has made a big impact throughout the years in the quality of living among the inhabitants of Ayacucho. One of these ngo’s is Solid International. A good cause organization that offers stabel income to plenty of Ayacuchian Peruvians by creating jobs and offering a human, steady & fair income.
LNKnits works with Solid International in the production of the LNAndes and LNBeanies knitwear collection. As you by now propably all know, every LNKnits item is made by hand, for about 90% in Ayacucho by Peruvian Ladies, and about 10% in Belgium by grannies. All handmade in human conditions at a fair price.2,5 years ago I started off, as Griet calls it ‘a 23year old roockie’ , with my company LNknits and with the first production of LNAndes scarves all handmade in Ayacucho. At that very moment, year 2012, I was able to offer work to 25 young Peruvian ladies for a couple of months a year. Thanks to devotion, great brand ambassadors and ofcourse you, I was able to more than triple the work in 2013. 12 months a year knitwork for more than 70 beautiful ladies of all ages. One crazy winter that lasted over more than 6 months (winter 2013 that was), my sister Anneleen and I doubled once more the workload… Today the LNKnits knitting team exists of more than 150 amazing ladies, all year round. This all-in collaboration with the beautiful team of Solid International.This steady income creates a better life for all 150 ladies, not only for themselves, but also for their families. They are able to invest in their homes, their lives, their future. They knit, chat, smile. Happy to have a steady income, which gives them chances. Chances that are rare in Ayacucho due to the past.
For more than 14 months (since my last trip to Ayacucho), I have been looking forward to this day, namely, the welcome ceremony at the LNKnits/manta knitting atelier. Hardly slept 4 hours last night, due to jetlag, but mostly because I was extremely nervous to meet the 150 ladies. Every welcome ceremony is so touching, it makes me more than speechless, stunned, but also turns a smile upon my face. To see and feel the gratitude of these women.
oday’s welcome by 150 great woman was one big party. All the ladies were singing, dancing, laughing, … Anneleen, Griet and I got such a warm welcome. Fresh baskets full of typical Peruvian fruit, a traditional Peruvian rope filled with beautiful flowers and a typical Peruvian hat. Loved every single second of it. This is a feeling very hard to express into words. I hope these pictures will you give you slight idea of what it must feel like to be a part of such joy and gratitude. I would like to thank you once more for your trust in LNKnits. If it weren’t for you, this would not have been possible. So, gracias a todo!
After a morning packed with emotions we went for a healthy lunch at a local restaurant, Zuca, in Ayacucho run by young Peruvian mothers as well, one of the many projects of Solid International. Delicious!
Late afternoon: photoshoot of the LNAndes FW2014 collection.
More about that later!
Now, time for a glass of Vino Blanco Dulce and a local Peruvian Quinoa/trutcha dish.