When Christine Dubin first dreamed up the concept of designing and selling hand-knit clothing for children, she knew she wanted to fulfill her passion for clothing design while somehow benefiting the larger world. Employing women who were struggling to make ends meet in an impoverished part of the world seemed like a natural fit.
When she discovered the incredible talents of the Peruvian women who would become Miou’s knitters, she knew she had found the connection and collaboration she was looking for.
Christine believes part of the responsibility that comes with operating a fair-trade business is making sure, firsthand, that her employees are being treated well and are receiving the benefits of working with her company. During her trips to Peru, Christine has had the opportunity to meet her knitters in person and see the supportive community they have created for each other.
But lately Christine has been trying to find a way to broaden Miou’s involvement in these women’s lives. She knows that many of Miou’s knitters are single mothers who have been abandoned by their husbands (a common occurrence in that part of the country) and left alone to raise their children in poverty. Working for Miou helps them feed, clothe and educate their children, but sometimes they are facing extra challenges like poor housing and expensive dental work.
On Christine’s most recent trip to Peru she stayed several weeks, bringing two of her five children along for the journey. She was invited into the knitter’s homes and told stories about their lives and their families. She was struck and saddened by some of the hardships they were enduring, and she came up with a new plan.
Miou will now be featuring individual knitters on www.mioukids.com and telling their stories. For a period of time, 100% of profits from the clothing that particular knitter creates will be used to help the knitter and her family accomplish a goal she would otherwise not be able to accomplish.
With that, let us introduce you to Lola, the first of the Miou knitters to receive the benefits of this exciting new program.
LOLA QUISPE is a 38 year old woman who was born in the district of Plateria – Puno in Peru. She now lives near Arequipa, where she is raising her daughters alone.
When Christine visited Lola in her small wooden hut she was immediately taken by her grace and hospitality. Lola didn’t have much to offer, but she fed Christine and her children and gave them tea. The one-room shack has flimsy walls protected with a tarp, and a dirt floor that creates dust everywhere. She lives with her two younger daughters, Milagros and Flores, while her eldest daughter is away trying to raise money to study. Lola’s biggest dream is to have a proper house with more space and protection from the elements.
Lola told Christine she learned how to knit when she was twenty years old and hopes to teach her daughters so they can make a living one day as well. She loves getting together with the other Miou knitters to talk and laugh; she says it helps her forget her problems.
It was clear to Christine right away that Lola needs a better home so her children can have a safe and clean place to live. There are inexpensive (by North American standards) options for housing in her region, so Miou’s new initiative has a very real chance of making a significant difference in Lola’s life.
Now, more than ever, when you buy clothing from Miou, you are contributing to helping women like Lola rise above the challenges life has thrown at her. Thank you for your continued support.