Building Futures with Cinder Blocks

By KELESY FEEHAN & KRISTA PEREZ, SparkNYC Members

SparkNYC is excited to introduce our first grantee of 2012 Estrategia! A grassroots Peru-based organization, Estrategia, empowers women through active participation in urban development. Estrategia and its partners have instated a number of successful job-training programs to place hundreds in jobs at local bakeries, pharmacies and schools. They have developed aImage sustainable agriculture program that enables women to oversee the installation of hydroponic planting systems both in communal spaces and family homes. Spark will support the expansion of a successful training program that prepares local women for leadership roles in the production of seismic-resistant construction materials. 

The Housing Ministry of Peru has recognized Estrategia’s work by nominating them to expand the hydroponic planting system to the coast of Lima as a pilot and demonstrative program. Other awards received by Estrategia include the Lewis Mumford Award by the ADPSR (Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility) for their Urban Development program in the Suro District of Lima and the Best Practice award by the United Nations for their Urban Renewal and Improvement, municipal housing and construction material production programs.

Through a partnership with another organization, Mujeres Unidades para un Pueblo Mejor, Estragia has overseen participants in the construction material production program begin to share their work and experience with women in other regions through a training endeavor. This partnership proved to be so successful that together, these organizations aim to expand the training program to address housing inadequacies in the Grocio Prado district of Peru.

Due to poor construction and a lack of satisfactory materials, the housing in this area poses a risk to inhabitants, as it is insufficiently resistant to earthquake activity. Recent natural disasters have left local inhabitants in precarious and vulnerable living situations, and the expansion of this training program will address the needs of the larger community while simultaneously addressing those of a female population in need of more active inclusion in the community’s well being.

The program objective is to aid in the creation of a factory to produce seismic-resistant construction materials, and to train local women in the production, sale and construction of them. Estrategia seeks to train 30 local women, who will subsequently train and employ an additional 150. This unique, grassroots approach addressing a multitude of issues, culminating in the empowerment of local women through their inclusion in the physical development of their community, is exactly the kind of innovative and norm-shifting line of attack that Spark looks for in its partners. We are thrilled to begin a relationship with the women of Estrategia and we encourage everyone to join us at the upcoming Cocktails for a Cause on Wednesday, May 23rd  to learn all about them!

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