One of our strengths is our mixed work team, comprised of domestic workers, former domestic workers and professionals, with the support of university students and Peruvian and international volunteers. Members of both sexes, from adolescence to age 60take part in our work.
Our executive board consists of: Blanca Figueroa, President; Sofia Mauritius, Secretary and Johana Reyes, Treasurer.
In 1974 I won a scholarship from the Ford Foundation to study the situation of domestic workers, it was the beginning of a commitment to them, which continues to the present.
I’m an “old feminist” from Peru and I think that, like many of the old school activists, I discovered and gradually built what I wanted as a goal. For example, it became clear that the best way to accomplish something was through projects, even if each of them seemed like a drop in the ocean.
In the coming years, I hope to continue dedicating myself to supporting women and girls in domestic labor, because it is what gives me greater satisfaction. I do not think this kind of work is a sacrifice. On the contrary, I think we all try to dedicate ourselves to what makes us feel good.
At the moment, my biggest dream and hope is that within a few years, we manage to acquire a venue for La Casa de Panchita.
I was born in the village of Mollepamba in Tucurrí, province of Cajabamba, department of Cajamarca (in the northern highlands of Peru). My parents were farmers; he could read, but my mother is illiterate.
A los 7 años entré a trabajar en servicio doméstico. Mi mamá primero me ofreció a sus familiares. Una pariente de mi madre, dueña de un restaurante, me aceptó. Allí nos levantábamos como a las 3.30am. Si no me despertaba me echaba agua fría. Yo ayudaba a cocinar, a trapear, a servir a los parroquianos y a lavar el servicio. Me acostaba cerca de las 11pm. Todo el tiempo tenía sueño. Estuve allí cerca de dos años. Me fui porque me pegaba mucho, incluso delante de la gente. Yo no le contaba a mi mamá porque no quería que estuviera triste; ella me veía una vez a la semana. Nunca recibí nada; si entregaron dinero, fue a mi madre.
At the age of 7, I started working in domestic service. My mom offered my services to some relatives. One of them, a woman who owned a restaurant, agreed. I used to get up at 3.30 am. If I did not wake up she used to throw cold water at me. I helped cook, mop, serve the clients and did the laundry. I used to go to bed around 11pm. I was sleepy all the time. I was there for about two years, but I eventually left because she hit a lot, even in front of other people. I had never told my mom because I did not want her to be sad. I used to see her once a week. I never received anything for my service. If so, it was given to my mother.
I came to Lima at age 12; after completing third grade. I traveled with one of my brothers who lived in Lima. I worked in several houses and, finally, worked for Ms. Charo, who later became a friend. While working at her place, I completed five years of high school. I was 25.
In 1990 I studied communication, but could not finish because I had no money to pay for college. But I did work in radio programs, both as a producer and speaker several times. I am currently on our radio show “We are not invisible.”
Empecé a aprender muy de cerca sobre cómo era la vida de muchas niñas en trabajo infantil doméstico cuando me hice voluntaria de un proyecto en La Casa de Panchita, allá en el 2005. Estaba a poco más de un año de graduarme de la universidad y mi experiencia de voluntariado me hizo decidir el enfoque de mi vida profesional.
I started to learn closely about what life was like for many children in child domestic labor when I volunteered for a project in La Casa de Panchita, back in 2005. It was a year before I graduated from college and this volunteering experience was what marked my professional life.
I got to know the problems of domestic service both from the perspective of girls and women in this sector and from the perceptions of local leaders, officials, students and many other people. I am motivated by the increasing concern and greater sense of responsibility to ensure that girls and women in domestic service have a decent life.
What most encourages me in my job is seeing the improvements achieved by girls and women who come to La Casa de Panchita. Some of the girls I met years ago are now young adults who decided to pursue higher education, left work in domestic service, or at least had their labor rights recognised, and have a better life. For them, as for me, La Casa de Panchita is a second home. A home that will continue to be open for anyone who decides to come in.