"Sculpting has given me a reason to feel proud of what I have overcome, and what I have achieved."
"My full name is Justina Dina Pacheco Churasi, from Ayacucho. I was born 14 May 1953, and I was 13 years old when my dad died. For economic reasons, I went to Lima to live with my aunt. She is a tailor with her own workshop, and I would help as much as I could, which in turn helped me develop good handcrafting abilities. I used to help her putting the different pieces of a garment together. I helped her until I was about 24 years old, which is when I met and married César González, a Novica featured artist.
"Together we sought for a way to have our own home and a way to support ourselves economically. We realized we were both very skilled with our hands, but we needed to develop our talents further. We started by sculpting gemstones, and César was the first to get into this, though it was something I had long wanted to do. I learned from him and helped him but, since I have always wanted to have my own art, my designs are entirely different from his.
"Our house burned down when our first daughter was only one month old, and we were left homeless. We lost everything we had, everything we had made. The fire took away our dreams, and we ended up begging for money on the streets. We struggled to make ends meet for two years. I supported my husband as much as I could, but privately I would constantly cry.
"One day we received a subsidy from the government which helped us to fix part of our house and provide better for our little girl. A friend of mine gave César a job at his workshop, and at home we put our hands together to overcome the situation we were in, and be where we are at now.
"Now we live like a great family, and we have three children in total, two girls and one boy. Two of them keep going to the workshop to learn and develop their own sculpting style and designs.
"I enjoy sculpting with gemstones. It fills me with joy, which in itself motivates me to continue. Sculpting has given me a reason to feel proud of what I have overcome, and what I have achieved."