Silk Weaving Project Benefits the Disabled
Text and Photos by Wilfredo Alayón
The project Tejiendo Hilos, that combines weaving and science with a social goal, recently concluded its first phase with good results, Cuban and foreign experts said.
The initiative is rooted in the cooperation between the Indio Hatuey Experimental Pasture and Fodder Station (EPFS) and the Cooperativa Sociale SocioLario Onlus, from Italy, financed by the European Union (EU), Marlene Prieto, director of the project, explained.
Prieto told the Prensa Latina news agency that the project, which started in 2011, benefits the affiliates of the associations for the blind and visually impaired, the motorically impaired, and the deaf (ANCI, ACLIFIM, and ANSOC).
“In all activities, whether they be technical or cultural, around 300 people were involved; about a hundred of them with some sort of disability that feel like they are capable of carrying out different functions,” she commented.
In addition, family members, administrators, and representatives of the associations, entities, and organization participated, she added.
“This project has trained all involved individuals so as to create a sector of the population that is sensible and knowledgeable and that can continue the initiative in the future,” the director said.
Anne Sophie, representative of the section for cooperation of the EU delegation in Cuba, indicated that Tejiendo Hilos (Weaving Threads) resulted from an initiative that provides opportunities to non-governmental entities according to objective requirements and standards.
“This project was one of the best and convinced the jury thanks to the exceptional alliance between an experimental station and a cooperative. It was a pretty challenging proposal due to the topic of social inclusion of disabled people,” she stressed.
The project includes the breeding of the silk worm, the collection of raw silk, the weaving of the thread, the dyeing, and the manufacturing of several home items from the silk capsule, according to Prieto, an EPFS specialist.
The previously trained staff that participates in all the different stages is linked to workshops in 5 of the 13 municipalities of the province of Matanzas, she commented.
Crafts, necklaces, earrings, key chains, jewellery, and scarves, are some examples of the final products.
Silk weaving consists in the combination of the skills of humans and the work of the silk worms that are able to produce, through their salivary glands, a very fine thread that is then processed to obtain the soft and elegant material known as silk.
While the final product is much sought after, the manufacturing of silk doesn't require big investments. It does need, however, great dedication and extreme care when dealing with the temperature, humidity, cleaning of the breeding facilities, and the white mulberry plantations that provide the food for the worm.
Founded in 1962, the EPFS aims to contribute to the sustainable local development through productive agro-ecological models, to improve the ecosystems of the Cuban agricultural sector, and to optimize the latter‘s production systems.