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PC(USA)-related artisans group in Peru honored

Bridge of Hope, working with Joining Hand program, creates ‘cultural windows into Peru’

April 1, 2009

LIMA, Peru

A Peruvian network related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Hunger Programreceived an award for operating the first fair trade store in Peru during a ceremony last week here.


The shop, Puente de Esperanza Tienda de Comercio Justo, is located in a major hotel and managed by a Peruvian organization called Bridge of Hope. Bridge of Hope supplies Peruvian goods to “fair trade” merchants in the United States and further abroad.

Mayor Manuel Masias Oyanguren of Miraflores, a distict within Lima, presided over the ceremony. It recognized three artisans and three associations for “exemplary” commitment to the support of Peru’s artisans.

“The city is so proud,” he said. “You all, the artisans, create pieces of art that serve as cultural windows into Peru, work carrying the value of your expression of history, culture and artisanship. You are the fundamental actors in this new city that takes pride in what we are.”

Located in the Hotel Antigua Miraflores, the shop serves as a venue for products from more than 22 artisan cooperatives. It was established as one component of the work of Joining Hands-Peru, a Peruvian advocacy network that is partnered with the PC(USA)’s Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery.

Joining Hands-Peru works on a number of campaigns tied to peaceful social change, including the impact of foreign trade agreements upon small Peruvian farmers and creating a stable market for fairly traded goods.

Jorge Travezano coordinates the Bridge of Hope program. He told the Presbyterian News Service that the recognition represents opportunities for the future. “The recognition of the Bridge of Hope Store by the municipality of Miraflores as the first fair trade store in Peru signifies that Bridge of Hope has a place alongside local governments promoting fair trade with the artisans of Peru.

“We are committed to using these new spaces to generate political advocacy with the Law of the Artisans and promotion of just trade.”

Bridge of Hope is the primary supplier of Peruvian goods to Partners for Just Trade, a U.S. outlet in St. Louis for fairly traded goods that is linked to the PC(USA). It helps artisans develop products, set marketing strategies and provides training in business, such as product pricing.

Ruth Farrell, a former mission co-worker in Peru and now coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, helped establish Bridge of Hope and train artisans during her 10-year tenure in Peru.

“While a number of organizations sell Peruvian crafts around the world, Bridge of Hope’s shop in Miraflores is committed to keeping the wares of Peruvian artisans available to local shoppers. This is a way of not only deepening the market in a just manner, but it both preserves and celebrates the traditional creativity of Peruvian culture,” said Lionel Derenoncourt, coordinator for the Joining Hands Initiative of the Hunger Program.

A month-long celebration has been under way in Peru to draw attention to Peruvian Artisan Day, which was observed on March 19. It is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism to promote and strengthen Peru’s artisan sector.

Joining Hands-Peru helped pass the law that established Peruvian Artisan Day in 2007 and is now advocating for a specific clause addressing the importance of fair trade.

“Finally, we feel recognized for our presence. We have been participating from within Peru but (were) never recognized from within Peru. We are so happy and so proud and that helps us continue moving forward in our efforts and our work,” said Bertha Flores, one of the artisans on hand.

Valuable assistance in the production of this story furnished by Alexa Smith, Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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