This familiar and inspirational scene is made even more poignant by the natural clay material and artisan quality craftsmanship. Capture the true meaning of Christmas with this ceramic nativity scene, handmade and vibrantly painted by the skilled Peruvian artisans of Manos Amigas.
- Red Brick: 3" H x 4" diameter (7.6 x 10 cm)
Blue Flower: 2.6" H x 2.5" W (6.6 x 6.3 cm)
- Handmade in & fairly-traded from Peru
To address the problem of chronic poverty in the wake of devastating earthquakes, Manos Amigas — meaning “hands of friends” — established an arts and crafts workshop in 2003 where women artisans could earn a fair wage and support their families using ancient Mayan carving techniques.
When a series of earthquakes leveled the region of La Paz, El Salvador in 2001, locals were left without food, water, shelter, or medical care. With government aid scarce, the nonprofit group Manos Amigas stepped in to address the immediate needs of the region and provide emergency supplies to local residents. But most families were still without shelter and health care, and work was almost nonexistent.
Workshop supervisor Rosa Lopez Deodanes has been with the Manos Amigas since its inception. "I started as an operator, learning how to work bamboo, clean the gourds, and shape forms. I am now the supervisor and have been able to have a better life, build a home, and make sure my kids have the proper education and proper health care."
Since its humble beginnings, Manos Amigas has grown into a beacon of hope for locals, establishing a primary health care clinic to service the workshop and a nearby school, where 130 students receive free health care. Today, the members of Manos Amigas enjoy nutritious food, clean water, health care, and new homes thanks to the magic of hard work and fair trade. With its nutritional program, Manos Amigas Association aims to provide the entire surrounding community with better nutrition and education to improve the quality of children's lives. It offers local families the opportunity to meet and implement a healthy lifestyle through small lectures, teaching families to prepare nutritious food at home.
Warehouse manager Cruz Morales tells of the difference Manos Amigas has made in her life: "I am a widow, I have three children...I have been able to provide for all the needs my children have had and feel that all these women are part of my family. We work for the sake of all the members and support each other. Over 250 families own their own homes thanks to Manos Amigas and the marketing of our products."
The ancient Mayans worshiped the gourd tree, believing it to be sacred. The tree was believed to bring liberation to the people -- and indeed, the families who have found liberation from poverty through Manos Amigos would certainly agree.