Today, we want to introduce you to one of the faces of Awamaki's artisan cooperatives. If you're moved by Jesusa's story, we hope you will renew your support to Awamaki today. Help us create more opportunities for more women in Peru donating now. Your support energizes us and transforms women's lives - just ask Jesusa.
Jesusa Machaca has been working with Awamaki since she was a teenager. You can see in the attached photos that she is learning to dye with natural dyes. Now, 23 years old, she has three small children. Before working with Awamaki she wove textiles only to produce clothes for her family. She is now weaving full time for Awamaki in her home community of Patacancha and saving her income for her children’s education.
Jesusa knows the importance of education. She studied through ninth grade, which makes her one of the most highly educated women in the community. Though young, she is a leader in her cooperative. She served as their first treasurer, and trained the new treasurer when her term ended. As treasurer, she helped the group begin to keep track of their funds so they could begin to work as an independent business.
Now, she is focusing on weaving and on her growing family. Her oldest daughter, Lourdes, pictured with her mom above, just started school this year. Jesusa has already taught Lourdes how to spin yarn with the pushka (the Andean drop spingle), and will pass the art of weaving down to her in a few years time. For Jesusa, it's important to teach Lourdes to weave because through weaving, “we pass down the traditions and stories of our ancestors.” But she also wants Lourdes to finish school so that she can have more economic opportunities than her mom.
Jesusa explains that the women enjoy working together in a cooperative because of the Quechua value of ayni, an Andean ideal of reciprocity. The women feel that it is important to use the money they earn not only to help their own families, but also to improve conditions in the community as a whole. “Before only our husbands could earn incomes, but since working with Awamaki we are providing for our families as well. Now we are equal,” she told us.
With leaders like Jesusa, our cooperatives operate more and more independently every year, developing sustainable businesses that will allow the women to earn dependable incomes for years to come. Your donations support training programs that empower women like Jesusa to lead their cooperatives and their communities out of poverty.
Please consider making a donation today - for Jesusa and the 150 other Awamaki artisans who are working to transform their lives.
Today we want you to meet Aby! Aby is the newly-elected President of the association that the Spanish teachers have formed. Aby has been one of our most enthusiastic teachers from the start, and she has emerged as a leader since the teacehrs decided to form their own association so that they can learn to run their own business.
Aby is 29. Before becoming a Spanish teacher through Awamaki's training program, she juggled an assortment of jobs. Now, she spends the majority of her week teaching at Awamaki and fills the other hours of the week working as a receptionist at a small hotel.
Aby told us that teaching Spanish has has changed the way she looks at the world. Working with students from all over the world ignited her interest in traveling abrod. Now, on any given weekend, Aby is off exploring various corners of Peru. She dreams of one day traveling to China and Egypt.
“I am grateful for the work through Awamaki because it provides me financial independence,” Aby says.
With the money that she earns from Awamaki, Aby has been able to set aside a portion of her Awamaki salary. She is saving to eventually purchase a home of her own, and maybe even a motorcycle--for her travels, of course!
Aby currently lives with her boyfriend in a nearby town. They are one of the few Peruvian couples that do not plan on raising children, but Aby says that she often thinks of her students as her kids.
At Awamaki, Aby’s students consistently name her as one of the most engaging and creative teachers. She is always the first teacher to volunteer to take on additional students. Her work ethic and commitment to her students are inspiring, which is why her fellow teachers chose her as their president. As president, Aby strongly advocates that the teachers plan and attend more workshops to improve their teaching skills. She says that personally, she hopes to one day be able to lead the workshops herself.
At Awamaki, we use your donations to invest in the teachers' skills. We invest in their teaching skills, and also in their leadership and management skills, as Aby is demonstrating. By donating now, you can help Aby invest in her fellow teachers and improve the management of the cooperative, so that the women can run a successful business and earn a sustainable income. Thank you so much for your support!
With your help, we have had a great year at Awamaki, and we couldn't have done it without you.
We now count 24 international retail partners carrying the women's products, up from nine last year. We have sold $110,000 of artisan products, up from $87,000 last year. We have put $120,000 directly in the hands of women, through our artisan products sales and our tourism program.
Ever wonder what all this means on the ground?
It means that 96% of the women in our programs report that their income has increased with our program.
46% spend the extra income on education, including school supplies, fees, or room and board for children at university.
38% use their extra earnings to save.
80% eat more meat and vegetables than they did before working with us.
78% feel more confident to participate in decision-making processes within their cooperatives, communities or households. How do we know? Women say:
"I have a stronger position in the community through my connection to other women."
"I am not afraid to speak up anymore."
"I can work and earn my own money."
"I am more disciplined in my life."
"Now I interact more with people from outside my community."
"Our group meetings help us communicate at a higher level."
This means empowerment that few women in these communities have ever experienced. It also means real changes in households. Women report their husbands helping spin wool, take care of kids, and even cook lunch, the main meal of the day, when they have an order to finish.
You are making these changes possible, and for that we want to say thank you. Next year, our goal is to teach the groups to manage their own order production, financial management and quality control. We don't want them to depend on anyone--not even us--to run their own businesses and earn a livelihood for themselves and their families.
We hope you will donate today to keep investing in the lives and empowerment of these women, and the futures of their children and their communities. Thank you and have a great New Year!