LA PAZ – Young Bolivian mothers who work different jobs outdoors during the day have found an alternative in a pastry-making project promoted by the Hormigon Armado Foundation.
For several hours during the day, they shine shoes, sell candy or wash windshields along La Paz’s avenues, but since late 2015 they combine the street gigs with training in cooking and confectionery methods.
In the hall where cookies are made, a table rocks while some of the women knead dough and cut the pastries with a mold, placing them on a tray in an oven donated by Save the Children.
The Bolivian Almond and Derivatives Company plays a key role in this program since, as part of its social responsibility policy, it provides flour, sugar and other ingredients for the production of cookies, and it also buys the workshop’s products.
Hormigon Armado provides the rest of the funding from its own resources and small sponsors and donors.
The profit is divided up among the 14 people working on the project, but the main goal is training.
“These people cannot get a job easily,” said Manuel Castillo, the 28-year-old project coordinator, adding that the program “aims to respect the women’s dignity.”
Karen Loaiza, the 18-year-old mother of a toddler, has been attending the Saturday workshops organized by the foundation for two years.
She has been enrolled in the pastry-making program for two months.
While Loaiza works, her daughter is in the care of a babysitter in another room in the building.
Loaiza has received assistance from the foundation for her studies and last year she earned a high school diploma.
The teenager now wants to go to college and study law, but for now she complements her street jobs with pastry making.
“I sell candy on the street medians, when the red light stops traffic,” Loaiza said.
Loaiza, her daughter and husband, who also sells candy and cleans cars on the streets, share a single room.