Finding A New Path – Artisans in Peru


Felipe Enriquez (right) with his son, Luis (center), and brother, Julio (left), create beautiful ceramics for Ten Thousand Villages. Felipe comes from Ayacucho, a large town in the Andes mountains of Peru.
During the time of the “Sendero Luminoso” (Shining Path) uprising, many Peruvians including Felipe were asked to take sides: join the Shining Path revolutionaries or support the military. Felipe refused to take sides, and his life was threatened. Deciding it was too dangerous to remain in their home area, Felipe and his family moved to the capital city of Lima. With little money and no wealthy friends or relatives, they ended up in a “new town”-a community of displaced people on the outskirts of Lima. Felipe staked his claim to a vacant piece of land and started to rebuild his life. The family had no electricity, water, sewer or any other services.
Felipe did have his ceramic skills, and he started to make pots and figurines to sell, hoping to earn a decent living for his family. He learned about Manos Amigas, one of Ten Thousand Villages’ fair trade suppliers in Peru, and they helped him to find export customers. The first product Ten Thousand Villages purchased from Felipe was his Hands Nativity, which has gone on to become a best-selling product.
Felipe now employs four to seven artisans, depending on order quantity. All of the fine details and painting are done by hand, one piece at a time.
Felipe has high hopes for his children. His son, Luis, sees the success of his father and uncle’s business, and wants to follow in their footsteps. Ten Thousand Villages’ purchases from Felipe’s workshop, through Manos Amigas, are helping to provide hope and a bright future for this family and for others in their neighborhood.