Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Madres Fuertes: Developing a Sustainable Future for Young Mothers

Project #
Lake Forest College
  • Antti Isoaho
  • Henry Salas Lazo

“Strong Mothers” was a project directed at indigenous, adolescent mothers in the capital of Peru. Mostly from the highlands originally, these young women face discrimination, segregation, poverty, and limited opportunities once they become mothers. Over the course of the summer, through a series of workshops and vocational training, ten young women were introduced to the skills to actually become
“strong mothers.”

In partnership with a local women’s rights group, Manuela Ramos, workshops were organized and led by community experts on themes ranging from effective parenting skills to health issues of women and children and legal rights. Three industrial sewing machines were purchased, and the women were taught to produce handicrafts that were then sold at a local fair in Lima. Training continues, and the products are available for sale at several outlets in Peru and elsewhere.

Real, practical skills were taught with the goal to give these new families the means to be productive members of Peruvian society. Added benefits to the participants were the friendships and connections built. In the words of one 16-year-old participant, “I would never have imagined to be here meeting other girls in the same situation. It is so gratifying to know that I am learning…ways to raise my little girl and give her a better life.”

Madres Fuertes began as a model program for one summer, but continues as an ongoing project of Manuela Ramos, opening doors and offering alternatives to a lifetime of poverty and discrimination.