Mirasol Non-Profit Association
The Mirasol Non-Profit Association was created thanks to the initiative of a Norwegian couple, clients of Michell, and the unconditional support of Michell & Cía S.A. Kari Hestnes y Per Svendsen, visited the Mallkini Farm for the first time in 2005, and during one of their excursions, met two children, Marisol and Alex, children of the ranch’s shepherds.
Kari y Per were captivated by the charismatic simplicity and innocence of the children, especially that of Marisol. They witnessed first- hand the reality of the children’s lifestyle and the hardships they faced. For these children, and many others like them in the region, just going to school meant a daily walk of 3 to 4 hours to get there and to come back on cold, wet days and even in the snow. As a result of their experience, Kari y Per came up with the idea of building a shelter where the local children could stay from Monday to Friday and from which they could attend their classes.
So, thanks to the initiative of Kari y Per, with the help of Michell & Cia, the project began to take off. Michell donated an area of land approximately 12,600 m2 in size for the development of the project and the construction of the house began in mid-2007 at a cost of S/. 582,770.43 (roughly US$209,629.65).
The project was given the name MARISOL, the name of the girl that Kari and Per had met at the ranch. However, owing to formalities and language problems, the name was changed to MIRASOL, but the project was registered under the name of “Asociación Civil Mirasol”. This project began with the monetary support of Kari and Per, through their company, Du Store Alpakka and with support from Michell & Cía. Later, other companies sharing the same philosophy joined the project and these include Knitting Fever (USA), Fil Diamond Yarn (Canada), Fil Katia (Spain) and Designer Yarns Ltd. (United Kingdom). These companies, along with Michell, with the sole purpose of supporting the programme, created a collection of hand knitted yarns called MIRASOL, which is distributed in the USA, Canada and Europe. Both companies and Michell agreed to donate a percentage of the profits to the project.
MIRASOL also currently receives personal contributions from visitors and friends. Monetary contributions from sponsors, from 2007 up until December 2013 have reached over US$800,000.00, which has mainly been used for the construction and implementation of the premises, food for the children, salaries to personnel (teachers and helpers) and operational costs.
Since 2008, when the operation of the shelter began, we have had an average of 40 children ranging from 3 to 16 years of age living in the premises. The children have received, apart from lodging in bedrooms appropriately equipped for boys and girls, complete balanced meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a track suit for use as a uniform as well as another for use as pyjamas.
All of the children receive the educational materials required for after school work and their homework. After breakfast, the children get ready for school and when they return, they have lunch and are assisted with their homework by two teachers.
A PRONOEI (Public Programme of Early Education) has also been implemented – a school for children between 3 to 5 years of age, under the authorization of the local schools authority and is attended by 8 children who are also lodges at Mirasol from Monday to Friday.
The full-time team in attendance at the lodgings are made up of a Headmaster, two tutors, a cook and a helper. Work is appropriately planned and programmed and the older children are assigned tasks in the house in order for them to contribute to its daily running. The parents also make a contribution by assuming cleaning duties once a week as well as maintenance when needed.
Clearly then, the primary objective for the creation of this association is to provide the children of the area with a better education and preparation for their future lives. Not only are they taught the basic school courses as proposed by the official curriculum, but they are also receiving instruction in other areas with the aim helping them in their future development. All of this is accompanied by an adequate diet, healthcare and lodging.
In 2009, we made every effort to comply with another of the project’s goals – the creation of a Primary School in Mirasol so that the children would not have to go somewhere else for classes but could receive a quality education, as their level was very low when compared with children of the same age at schools in the bigger cities in the south of Peru.
There have been several obstacles to overcome, procedures which had to be complied with and equipment bought (some from personal donations received), but finally, at the end of February, 2009, official authorization was received from the Regional Education Office allowing the new Primary School to be opened.
The Mirasol Primary School officially opened on April 6th, 2009 with 45 Primary students from 1st to 6th Grade, with another 12 students at Elementary level.
The school continues to grow and we are implementing constant improvements, waiting year after year on the support of companies and private individuals, so that Michell can continue supporting this cause so that we can, in the short term, open another Mirasol school in another needy area of Peru.
If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact us at