La Chureca is the largest open-air landfill in Central America. Residents depend on the garbage dump for survival. Whole families spend hours in the trash collecting anything they can sell. They make about 2-3 dollars a day.
Families build their homes from scraps they find in the dump. They sleep on mattresses with springs popping out. Their kids play with discarded toy cars and dolls. They eat meager portions of rice and beans, if they can afford it.
In a place where families survive picking through garbage, Manna Project International, a US non-profit, wanted to give women a healthier, more creative option. In June 2012 Manna Project International started a jewelry cooperative for 22 women living in La Chureca.
With the help of various organizations, including Wal-Mart and TechnoServe, jewelry materials were purchased and teachers employed. The women learned valuable business skills and helped develop a business plan.
The cooperative has grown into a collection of smart and talented entrepreneurs who understand business and can make a beautiful pair of earrings too. They have progressed from people with no opportunity to businesswomen who can independently provide for their families.
La Chureca jewellery is now available for purchase at Apoyo Lodge.