Port of Call
Montevideo, Uruguay: Supporting Women through Sustainable Development, Jan 31, 2017
A Peace Boat participant learns how to make a beautiful cup for drinking mate tea from recycled gourd.
On January 25, Peace Boat docked in Montevideo, Uruguay, a small country with a population of only 3.5 million, but which is known for being one of the most egalitarian and politically progressive countries on the South American continent. In Montevideo, however, there are still pockets of poverty and inequality where many individuals face violence and struggle to make a living. Among the various study and exchange tours available to Peace Boat participants, a small group visited Centro de Promoción por la Dignidad Humana (CEPRODIH), an NGO which supports and defends the rights of the most vulnerable members of society, especially women and children at high social risk such as single mothers and those who have suffered domestic violence.

A participant tries silk-screen printing for the first time at CEPRODIH.
Participants were welcomed to the organization by the founder and head of CEPRODIH, Adriana Abraham, a woman whose larger-than-life presence, warmth, and infectious laugh captivated everyone instantly. Ms Abraham explained that CEPRODIH was originally established in 1998 as a shelter where at-risk women and children could spend the night. It later expanded its activities to provide holistic support to individuals living in precarious circumstances in the form of free vocational courses (including cooking, computing, hairdressing and craft-making), psychological care, housing assistance and legal support. The organization supports approximately 300 individuals each year.

A CEPRODIH staff members sells hand-made jewellery and other crafts produced by the NGO's beneficiaries.
In the morning, participants took part in a workshop led by Lila, a woman who had taken a jewellery-making course at CEPRODIH and subsequently became a teacher of the course. She highlighted that all CEPRODIH's craft courses use recycled materials to reduce waste and minimize their environmental footprint. Participants used gourd - a pumpkin-like vegetable - to make a cup for drinking mate, a unique tea which is drunk widely across South America and is famed for its purported health benefits. Participants also had the opportunity to try their hand at silk-screen printing - another craft course which CEPRODIH offers.

A CEPRODIH staff member works at the in-house shop which sells beautiful bags and wallets produced from recycled plastic banners.
After lunch, Adriana gave a tour of the organization's facilities. In one of the rooms, participants saw a number of women sewing garments and other items made of fabric, and were particularly impressed by a foldable baby's cradle which one of CEPRODIH's beneficiaries had designed. The organization also houses a stylish shop called halo which sells a line of beautifully crafted products including bags and wallets which were made from recycled banners previously used in large companies. As the end of the tour was drawing near, participants offered CEPRODIH staff a collection of support goods - including cloth and other materials for craft-making - which were previously collected in Japan.

CEPRODIH's founder Adriana Abraham has dedicated her career to supporting vulnerable and marginalized individuals across Uruguay.
Organizations like CEPRODIH which offer holistic support to individuals in need are vital for sustainable development - its activities contribute towards several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including No Poverty (goal one), Gender Equality (goal five), and Responsible Consumption and Production (goal 12), among others. Tsuji Kanae, a Peace Boat participant, offered her reflections on the day's events: "CEPRODIHfs work is making a huge difference to the lives of many women in Uruguay. However, there are also many single mothers, women who suffer from violence, and people living in poverty in Japan. I believe that more organizations like CEPRODIH should be created in Japan to support these individuals and address widespread gender inequalities."