‘The Rice Sisters’: Being presence and compassion for the women from the hills of Canto Grande

We have had a visit from a group of mothers from Cardinal Newman College, Buenos Aires. This was the fourth group of mothers from Newman to participate in an immersion programme.

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The mothers from Newman minding the children

The local women here call them “Hermanitas”, little sisters. The “little” is a term of respect and closeness. The mothers from Newman have adopted for themselves the name “Hermanitas Rice”, “The Rice Sisters”.

The sisters organized a workshop for the mothers that live on the hills around our school, Fe y Alegría 26 in Canto Grande. Over 30 women from the hills made decorative shopping bags, scarfs and oven gloves.

These mothers have hard lives where they have to work in the market or selling food in the streets. Some mothers work in their homes doing things like peeling broad beans for which they are paid very little. They are exploited. These women from the hills have few opportunities to come together socially and the workshop provided such a space.

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Product of the workshop

We had refreshments and raffles each day with prizes for everyone. Three of the sisters organized the workshop in a very efficient way while the other three sisters minded the babies and organized activities for the children who came with their mothers, which were both tiring and challenging for the sisters.

On the final day of the workshop, the mothers prepared a simple traditional meal for the sisters and the mothers from different hills presented gifts to them, an unexpected and warm gesture from the mothers. Bonds had been formed and it was time to part with fond memories and some photos. Juan Manuel Irazabal, our volunteer from Uruguay, was a great help, especially with the child minding.

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Another successful workshop

We appreciate very much the generosity of the sisters in coming here to Lima and in being such a positive presence here. We look forward to the Rice Sisters 2017, due to arrive next May.