"Queremos trabajar libres" (We want to work free)
– Felicitas Rios Cjuro, explaining why the weaving group wants to build a new weaving center, free from the pressures of local men who own the land on which they worked in the past.
Happy GlobalGiving Bonus Day! Today we have special update for you.
You might remember from our #FailForward project report that one of our weaving groups was having issues with the local man who, years ago, donated the land where they built their weaving center. In our last update, we told you that the group had decided to leave the center we had built with them. They were using a local community center to meet and host tourists.
Now, we have some exciting news. The weavers, inspired by the crafts centers of other Awamaki cooperatives, and emboldened by the leadership and business trainings that you fund, decided to buy their own land to build a center they can call their own.
The weavers found land and a willing seller, and put together a payment plan. Each of the 40 women will pay $5 per month for two years to pay off the land.
This is a strong statement to a powerful community leader and to other men in the community that the women will own and manage their own business. The women need a space where they can work, share their art, run their business and express their opinions free from outside pressure. They will call this space their own. They will, in their words, “work free.”
They have already gotten started building their own center. Last month, working with visiting high school interns, they broke ground. They cleared land, stripped logs and prepared thatch that they gathered. The women also led their very first weaving lessons at the new site.
But they have a ways to go. Thatch is free to gather, and the women and their husbands are doing all the construction work they can. But buying materials to build a bathroom and small indoor shelter, transporting materials up to the site, and hiring a skilled construction supervisor will be costly.
That is why we need your help. This bonus day, we are trying to raise $500 to help the women build. This $500 will go towards a proper bathroom for the center. It will have a modern flushing toilet and—wait for it—even a sink for handwashing! This is by far the most expensive part of the construction, and we hope that you will help us make it happen. The bathroom will allow the women to host tourists and other visitors in comfort.
*Definitely no hot water though. Let’s not get carried away.
Happy Bonus Day from Awamaki!
This Bonus Day, we want you to meet Laura and Meghan, two of Awamaki’s talented resident designer interns who have been hard at work with our seamstresses updating one of our new products.
Laura and Meghan have spent the last two weeks working on redesigning the clutch. After listening to our customers’ feedback, our designers realized that a few things needed to be changed. Among other issues, the leather finishes were difficult to align, so the top of the clutch was coming out crooked.
Rather than making a new product from scratch, Meghan said, “This was problem solving!”
In order to make the best product possible, they crafted several samples and used them to come up with ways to solve the problems and update the design with more modern textiles. “You realize that once you change one problem, it can lead to others,”Laura explained. The fashion student used her expertise as a seamstress to improve the bag’s overall quality.
Once they discovered the best design, they made suggestions to improve the order in which the pieces were put together in order to to streamline production. Last week, they sat down with our seamstresses to teach them how to make the entire clutch. To improve quality, they also taught the seamstresses a new technique. Laura and Meghan worked with Justa and Estela to teach them how to properly work with leather using leather glue and hammer. New to working with leather, Justa and Estela were excited about learning a new skill that they can apply to other products as well.
“This new technique makes the work come out so much better,” Estela told us. “I can use this for the Ivy Bag too, and other new products we are making.”
Your contributions enable us to fund the trainings that we do with the seamstresses so they can continue to refine their skills. This Bonus Day, please consider supporting their ongoing skills and design development with the artisans at Awamaki, and your donation will be matched by GlobalGiving to multiply your impact!
Hello and happy Bonus Day!
Our teachers are kicking off the year with the brand-new Cultural Orientation classes.
Last year, you funded 20 capacity-building sessions with our teachers from July to October. With their instructors, Chrissy Ellison, the teachers designed five sessions. The women came up with the topics and figured out how to teach each while Chrissy helped develop the best practices for the classes.
Kasey, a brand new volunteer working in with our women’s fair trade artisan cooperatives, says the class was a great orientation to Ollantaytambo.
“This is very important to have when you arrive,” she said, “especially the personal connection with the teacher.” Kasey and other volunteers tell us that the relationships they forge with their teachers are crucial during their first weeks in Peru, since that can be a lonely and difficult time.
Kasey’s teacher was Aby, and as part of her Cultural Orientation class, they visited the market and a local ruins site in the farm fields outside town. They also discussed homestay basics, like how to use the electrical showerheads that are ubiquitous here, and how to politely ask for more or less food at mealtimes.
The teachers are pleased too. As of January, all new Awamaki volunteers take the sessions, and many of them like it so much that they sign up for more classes. Tourists also can take the class, since it is designed to be a standalone cultural orientation as well as the kickoff to more traditional classes. The teachers offer sessions in Ollantaytambo, Tourist Information, Typical Food, Quechua, and Homestay Preparation, giving both tourists and volunteers a good set of options for whatever their plans are while in town. The number of hours they are teaching has gone up, and we are excited to see the program grow in the year ahead!
With a few months of teaching the Cultural Orientation under their belt, the teachers are looking ahead. They hope to work with Chrissy to improve their basic-level Spanish class so they can offer more options to potential students as their school’s reputation grows.
This bonus day, contribute to fund the next stage of teacher training to support the teachers and their growing business!