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PERU | CLEAN COOKSTOVES | Heifer 

By the time I arrived at the home of Sofia Arivilca, she had been homeless for most of her 64 years. 

 

Over the two days I spent with her near Lake Titicaca, Peru, she told me how she had been abandoned by her family, abused by her husband, and constantly unable to find work. And then, a neighbor would knock at her door, and Arivilca would rush off to participate in the life she’d always imagined. 

 

I met Arivilca through Heifer International, with which Harbers Foundation partners on a project called “Healthy Homes.” The project’s goal is to empower women through first giving them a home, and then teaching them how to maintain it — distinct living spaces, hygienic food storage, safe cookstoves and functional sanitation. But the most incredible part happens afterwards, when the women are encouraged to teach their own communities the skills they’ve learned, allowing their own empowerment to ripple out far beyond them. 

 

With her permission and participation, I photographed Arivilca’s new life the way she saw it, focusing on the moments of profound beauty, joy and connection that she’d built for herself.

© 2020 Renee Harbers

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