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Parcona, a district ten minutes away from the centre of Ica, has never been the same since
she arrived there. Leslie Felices, a 49 year-old engineer, let loose her ideas about giving
women more opportunities and designed a new course of action for the women in Parcona.
The first step was a pair of brochures on food technologies published by Practical Action.
The rest was sheer willingness.
She was not even ten years old when Leslie Felices Lizarreta discovered that nothing much is
required to begin helping others. In Pisco forty years ago, life was peaceful and the girls in
her area used to meet at the Los Diamantes Children’s Club to discuss their dolls’ clothes. It
was then that it crossed Leslie’s mind that these meetings could serve for more useful
purposes. With the few coins the girls gathered together at tea parties, they visited the
poorest area in the province to hand out hugs, ‘paneton’ and hot chocolate a few days before
Ten years ago in 1999, when she founded the Women’s Association of Parcona in the
Parcona district ten minutes from the centre of Ica, she recalled those times. In the
meantime, a lot had occurred in her life: she had studied Chemical Engineering at the San
Luis Gonzaga National University in Ica, had achieved excellent academic acknowledgements,
married and had three children. As far as Leslie was concerned, however, that was not
enough. She had to change the lifestyles of the women in Parcona and the founding of this
organisation was the first stone.
According to Leslie, “the objective was not only to provide a source of income for
participating families, but a new activity in their lives, a new passion.” When the Flora
Tristan Centre for Peruvian Women arrived in this district to conduct a brief jam-making
course, the engineer looked beyond that. “The expectations were such that a one-day class
was far too little”, she recalled. That is when she decided to give classes on food
technologies, based on the pamphlets produced by Practical Action.
“A colleague at the University gave me a copy of Practical Action’s fruit wine-making
brochure, which served as a guide. As soon as I found out the address, I went to Lima to
obtain more material”, she said. She approached the Practical Answers area of Practical
Action, which has been providing information since 2002 on implemented projects that can
be replicated in other communities. With a few handbooks on making jams, yoghurt and fruit
nectars, the association’s classes began.
“I always look up the brochures because the way the procedures are explained are infallible
for our numerous classes”, said Leslie. “How to reach out to the mothers regarding
calculations and costs can be difficult, but how to achieve that is detailed in the handbooks”,
she added. In the end, the classes which began in only one sector expanded to the six areas
in the district. “”We self-financed everything initially so that they could learn and then
invest”, explained the engineer.
So far, more than one thousand women have been trained in these programmes. Although
they began producing dairy products, chocolate-making soon became the star of the
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