More than a Pretty Face: The Welder
By Sarah Z. Wexler
Landa at work
Photo Credit: Allen Clinton/Care
Name: Maria Esther Landa
Location: Lima, Peru
Job: Founder and General Manager, Santa Maria Industries
Notable Quote: "By studying and opening your mind, you become free."
More than a year after a colossal earthquake shook Lima, Peru, around 55,000 families still remain homeless or displaced. That's what Maria Landa is out to change. By using her unique skills as a professional welder, she's constructing crucial temporary homes one tent at a time.
Q: Tell us about the tent project.
A: When the quake hit, houses fell apart like toys. So I'm helping the nonprofit CARE by building tents for the homeless. I run my own welding company, and we're making 1,000 tents each sheltering six people. I wake up early to weld the frames and cover them in canvas, then do it again every night after work. I'm honored to help it's a comfort like no other to have a home.
Q: Would you say you're a trendsetter as a female welder?
A: A decade ago, we didn't have women working with metals or in construction in Peru. So, yes, now I make windows, doors, and construction components, and I collaborate with engineers and architects. I've even welded airplanes!