Nonprofit helps impoverished, imprisoned Peruvians

The Coast News Group
By: Patty McCormac 
Photo: Courtesy of Patty McCormac
Photo Caption: Martha Dudenhoeffer shows photos of some of her friends and workers as well as some toys that are sold to help the standard of living of women in a Peruvian prison, most caught up in the world of drug cartels in a bid to escape poverty.

Original content from The Coast News Group.      

DEL MAR — It’s been a decade since Martha Dudenhoeffer’s teenage children goaded her into doing some kind of volunteer work. After all, she had strongly encouraged them to do something to give back, which they did. Now, they had decided, it was her turn.

Although she was busy with her Del Mar-based landscape and gardening business, she contacted Cross Cultural Solutions, which has volunteer opportunities in 12 countries. They sent her for a stint in Peru at a prison in Ayacucho, a small mountain town between Lima and Cusco at 9,000 feet in the Andes.

“I originally thought I would go in there and plant a little garden for them,” she said chuckling at her own naivety.

She soon learned the women needed more than a “little garden.”

They were living in deplorable conditions, many with their children. The food was substandard and scarce; the bathrooms simply holes in the ground. Their standard of living was unimaginably dirt poor.

During her eye-opening visit, she noticed the women’s beautiful knitting, which gave her an idea.

Why not establish a cottage industry for the production and sale of their sweaters, scarves, pillows, table runners and toys fashioned from the ultra soft coats of baby alpaca?

Maki, International was established as a nonprofit entity. Maki means “hands” in Peru’s ancient indigenous language.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at The Coast News Group