Learning a new craft can be fun and even instill you with important values.
October 27, 2018 - Honduras
When volunteer arts and crafts instructor Maria Donaubauer-Jiménez decided to re-launch a hammock-making program at NPH Honduras this past summer, she didn’t intend on lounging around on some beach nestled underneath the shade of palm trees, she knew it meant hard work.
From 7:30 to 10:00 in the morning, Monday through Friday, Maria and her crew work diligently, weaving multi-colored threads into hammocks at Casa Eva, the home for senior residents. The program brings together an inter-generational mix of the young and the wise. It’s an activity that serves as a pastime for the home’s residents and a vocational course for children with significant learning difficulties.
According to Maria, hammock-making is a craft that anyone can learn if they’re willing.
“It doesn’t require any special prior experience, anybody can start, but what is necessary is continuity and quality work.”
At their current pace, the average hammock takes about two months to complete. But the emphasis on producing quality over quantity is well worth it, because many general visitors and medical brigades visit the home, see the team at work, and quickly put in their orders.
On their end, the buyers receive the benefit of knowing exactly where and to whom their money goes. All proceeds go towards purchasing communal goods for the home and paying a bonus to team members for each hammock that they produce. The remainder is used to offset operational costs.
Beyond generating monetary value, these hammocks bring intrinsic value to those who make them. The hammock-makers, especially the children, take away intangible life skills, such as patience, respect, perseverance, time-management, and responsibility.
For the girls, the best part of their work is receiving a compliment for a job well done. They gain a sense of self-confidence from taking simple pieces of thread and weaving them into works of art. Even their caregivers have noticed positive changes in their behavior since the program started.
“They like it when people come to Casa Eva and tell them that they are doing a good job. Zulima* always calls me and says, ‘Look at my hammock, It doesn’t have any errors!’” notes Maria.
The program is a source of both professional and personal development that can have strong impacts on their futures. Learning to make hammocks can give the girls a sense of independence, paired with technical skills that might allow them to support themselves economically.
Seeing the potential in this program gives Maria joy, but she knows that in order for it to progress it needs continuity. As she wraps up her volunteer term, she passes the baton to Father Jose, a student and fellow craftsman himself, who will lead the program.
In the near future, Maria and Father Jose hope to expand program to include more children at NPH and introduce it to nearby communities.
*Names changed for privacy purposes.