Clelia : finding peace and livelihood in bead-weaving, Ibarra, Ecuador

Clelia : finding peace and livelihood in bead-weaving, Ibarra, Ecuador

​April 2016

Joint Migration and Development Initiative, UNDP in collaboration with IOM, ITC-ILO, UNITAR, UNHCR, UNFPA and UN Women, Brussels, BelgiumUNDP in collaboration with IOM, ITC-ILO, UNITAR, UNHCR, UNFPA and UN Women, Brussels, Belgium


Clelia is a 46 year-old woman. She was born in Tolima, one of the 32 departments of Colombia, located in the Andean region in the South-Western part of the country, where she learned how to work from a very young age. Clelia remembers that, together with her four brothers, she used to wake up at 3am to help her mother in a small food factory that she owned and then, while her mother would be taking care sales, she would take care of her brothers.
As the years went by, she started selling juice in Catatumbo where she met the person who later was to become her partner. Everything was going well but without warning, the peaceful life that she had turned into a nightmare. “I don’t know if it was the guerrillas or the paramilitary who came into my house and killed my partner” she recalls. “I had to flee as fast as I could, taking only what I was wearing in order to save my life”. She went to different places, until she got a job in a property of Sandoná, a locality situated in the south-western part of Colombia in the department of Nariño. She recounts that a group of insurgents came there and killed the landlord. Clelia’s life was once again put in jeopardy.
Fleeing the armed conflict her country was living, she made the decision to cross the border and arrived in Ecuador. That was 15 years ago. She spent some time in Quito, Latacunga, San Gabriel and it has now been 8 years since she settled in Ibarra, a city which she considers as a safe haven.
Today, Clelia is part of group called Mujeres Dejando Huellas (Women Leaving their Footprints) where, together with dozens of women living in similar situations, she benefits from training in creating handcrafted jewelry, stationery, baked goods and other activities that bring in an income. This support is provided by the Prefecture of Imbabura, through the project “Strengthening the Decentralized Autonomous Governments (DAG) of the northern provinces of Ecuador regarding issues of human mobility” within the framework of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI). The main objective of this project is to contribute to the generation of synergies and institutional capacity for Autonomous Decentralized Governments of the northern provinces of Ecuador (such as the one of Imbabura where Ibarra is located) that promotes the implementation of local legislation and public policies aimed at the protection and restoration of rights of people in situations of human mobility.  
Thanks to the project, Clelia receives wo hours of training daily to continue to support her business. She has now completed her third step of the course in bead-weaving. Clelia says that being part of these activities has helped her develop her creativity, but most importantly this ensures that she earns income since she now sells her products. Moreover, with the support of the Prefecture she has taken part in craft fairs where she was able to exhibit and further promote her products. “I have suitable tools in hand to work and earn money in order to maintain my family”, says Clelia with great satisfaction.
“These spaces provided to us by the institutions of Imbabura, such as the Patronato, have helped me to grow intellectually. Having a space for recreation but most importantly for development”, she expresses. “Ecuador is a blessed territory. People here live in peace, tranquility is not something you buy, and people live in harmony”.
The Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), running since 2008, is a programme led by UNDP in partnership with IOM, ITC-ILO, UN Women, UNHCR, UNITAR and UNFPA, with funding from the European Commission and the Swiss Agency for Development. The JMDI is aimed at strengthening the contribution of migration to development reinforcing its local dimension through the upscaling of locally led M&D initiatives. Now in its second phase, the JMDI is up-scaling 16 projects across 8 countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Morocco, Nepal, Philippines, Senegal and Tunisia).