Lincoln Academy students are buying and wearing colorful bracelets this week – for a cause. For five years LA students have held annual sales of pulseras, or bracelets, made in Central America. The bracelets are handmade by artisans working for the Pulsera Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing a living wage and improving the living conditions for people in Central America. Lincoln Academy’s participation is spearheaded by language teacher Alison Welch, who discovered the Pulsera Project at a world languages conference and decided to get LA students involved.
At the conference, Welch explained, “two young men were standing on either side of a brightly colored table covered with hundreds of pulseras. I talked with them and learned their story: they had just graduated from college and had gone on a trip to Nicaragua. During their time there they were dismayed by the horrible work conditions and poverty that they saw every day, and they went home to South Carolina and came up with a plan to do something about it.”
The plan was to help local artisans find the materials to make more of the bracelets they were already making, to distribute the pulseras in the US, to sell them, and return 100% of the profits to the artisans. “I signed on,” continued Welch, “because I really liked the idea of promoting global citizenship. We ran Lincoln Academy’s first pulsera sale, and then a second one the following year. Unbenounced to me, LA was one of the top 12 schools in the country in sales over two years, and because of that, I was invited to participate in the first Pulsera Project Teacher trip 3 years ago.” Welch traveled to Nicaragua with five other teachers from around the country, and her experience only made her more passionate about supporting the project.
“In Nicaragua I met many artisans and heard stories of how much their lives have improved because of the Pulsera Project. They are able to stay home and work their own hours rather than 16 hour days in sweatshops making clothing. They are able to stop working in the sugarcane fields which is an industry that has the highest rate of pancreatic cancer in its workers in the world. I am most proud of the fact that Lincoln Academy has raised enough money to finance four houses. The new owners of these homes showed them to us with immense pride and gratitude, knowing that we had helped raise the money for them.”
The colorful handmade bracelets are for sale during lunch outside the LA Dining Commons until Tuesday, November 14. They cost $5 each, and 100% of sales benefit the artisans in Central America.