Ima Sumacc

The four artisans of Ima Sumacc in their workshop.
Isabel, Idelsa, Giovana, and Esperanza.

From: Torres de Melgar, Villa María del Triunfo, Lima

Group Members: Esperanza Perez, Giovana Anyosa, Idelsa Guevara, Isabel Zuñiga

In the shantytown of Torres de Melgar in Villa María del Triunfo, one of the more violence-prone districts of Lima, four women are sharing life together as friends and co-workers and learning what it is to overcome difficulties. The women of Ima Sumacc dedicate themselves to knitting – both by hand and by machine – and make many products that live up to the name of their group, which in Quechua means “How beautiful!”

The story of their formation as a group goes back several years. They start by stating that, “It’s a little sad; we lacked many things.” They all migrated to Lima from Piura and Ayacucho in the ‘80s during the years of terror. They had nothing when they arrived. One of the women, Idelsa, began attending meetings with her three little kids that a non-profit organization was offering for young mothers in the area. There was a group of 25 women that came to the meetings, and one day they bought yarn together to learn to knit. Idelsa was first introduced to knitting in these meetings. Over time, the women began to filter out. After the knitting training was over, they were recommended to participate in a fair trade initiative that eventually became Bridge of Hope. Idelsa submitted a poncho for review and was the only one who stuck it out and was accepted into the program. She eventually found Esperanza, Isabel, and Giovana and the group became what it is today.

They say that, “In those first years, we suffered a lot.” They had to carry their babies while they worked and got cheated by a couple shops where they were trying to sell their products. However, through Bridge of Hope they were able to establish a stable workshop by buying a knitting machine and materials and from that they were able to find stability with their families. They have been able to form themselves as people through the workshops offered by Bridge of Hope. These enterprising women have created a place that not only houses the creation of hand-made products, but has also become an important place for solidarity and sharing. They get together every Monday, even when there isn’t an order because, in their words, “We are more than business associates. We are a family.”

Their dream for the future is to be able to dedicate themselves solely to their knitting and grow their business. They want to do this not only to be able to provide for their own families but also to be able to provide jobs for their neighbors that are in need. They want others to experience economic stability and the unity that they share as a group.