Awamaki

Awamaki collaborates with the greater Ollantaytambo community to create economic opportunities and improve social well-being.
Nov 1, 2012

Greenhouses, natural dyes and Excel spreadsheets!

Jesusa, who took classes in teaching weaving
Jesusa, who took classes in teaching weaving
It has been a busy and productive three months at Awamaki, and we are wrapping up a year of great progress with our women's cooperatives in continued skills-building
Your support of capacity-building at Awamaki funds three types of trainings:
  • technical trainings that enable our women to improve the quality and marketability of their products, this directly increasing their income
  • management skills training that support our women in taking increasing ownership of the daily business of the cooperative, such as Excel training so they can manage orders and attendance
  • life skills trainings that support general well-being for them and their families. These topics come from needs identified by the women. We run them because while we believe that while income in the hands of women is the most effective way to lift families and communities out of poverty, we recognize that health, education and leadership play a crucial role.
Please read on about the workshops in which our women have participated!
Our knitters have recently completed two workshops on quality finishing techniques, and they are currently applying this new knowledge to their first large export order! They are currently completing 40 pairs of complicated slippers and 50 baby hats, as well as continuing to stock our store in Peru. In the upcoming months, they will be learning new men's and children's accessories, and beginning another round of training to knit complicated items such as sweaters and cardigans. With intensive support from our staff and an external trainer, they are starting to take on more managerial responsibilities, such as managing attendance and banking for their common fund.
The knitting cooperative members have also attended workshops on green technology and design, product differentiation and innovation.
This year, our seamstresses learned how to make 12 new patterns, half of which are extremely complicated. They have also started computer and English classes taught by our wonderful volunteers, and with the help of these new skills they have begun managing and placing their own inventory orders. Most exciting and fun, they have done a few design workshops and even come up with one design of their own for a baby backpack. Currently they are sewing ponchos, bags, wallets, purses and skirts for the holiday season in the United States. (For an amazing gift idea, check out their products online!). In the upcoming months the seamstresses will be focusing heavily on the 12 designs they learned, continuing to practice placing orders and creating production schedules, and moving into more design work of their own.
The sewing and knitting cooperatives have made so much progress in product development, they were recently featured in Vogue India! See the attached PDF for a look.
In the indigenous communities, our weavers have improved their variety of dye colors and ability to weave to measurement this year. We hope to carry out one more dye workshop in November. This workshop will be a bit different from past workshops: rather than dyeing with the whole cooperative, the weavers have nominated several women to undergo an intensive training so that they can lead future dye workshops with both the cooperative and tourists, thus increasing cooperative autonomy and income, while freeing up Awamaki funds to invest in other skills.
This year, our sustainable tourism program developed an intensive four-day weaving workshop that sends tourists to live with our weavers and learn to spin raw wool and weave on the backstrap loom. Both the homestay and the lessons for these tourists represent a significant source of income for the weavers. Six of our weavers volunteered for an intensive three-day training in how to teach weaving. We hope that by improving the quality of the lessons, we can offer the program widely and increase the number of tourists who go. Typical of the members of this cooperative,four of the weavers who attended did not complete primary school; two others went to high school, but neither graduated. All have young children. These new skills will represent enormous opportunity for them. Our next trainings will be on hospitality and cooking to ensure that they can provide a quality, comfortable experience for tourists.
Thirteen of our weavers have also undergone four workshops on greenhouse maintenance and agriculture. We have built eight greenhouses in the past two years and will be builidng five more this year. Weavers grow natural dye plants for their weaving that they would otherwise have to buy, and vegetable for their families. The greenhouses allow for increased economic independence and food security.
Our spinners are currently learning to spin chunky alpaca yarn for sale. Accustomed to spinning very tight, thin yarn for weaving, they are struggling to create thick yarn with structural integrity and consistent thickness. The yarn they currently produce sells well in the store in Peru, but is unfit for export. Moreover, we have found that lots of alpaca fiber is wasted in the spinning process. We hope to teach our spinners to create felt from this fiber so our seamstresses can use it to make home furnishings accessories. So far this year, we haven't had the ability to invest in workshops in spinning and felting, but we hope that we will have the funds to conduct these by the end of the year. We have also applied for a grant in support of this project. Wish us luck!
Finally, we are working with our partner health organization to offer reproductive health classes to our cooperatives, starting with our Spanish teachers in Ollantaytambo. We think this says it all.

Thank you so much for your support and we look forward to keeping you updated in the future! Please don't hesitate to contact us for any reason at info@awamaki.org!

Learning the cowl neck scarf
Learning the cowl neck scarf
Knitter with yarn fresh from the spinning coop
Knitter with yarn fresh from the spinning coop

Links:

Oct 22, 2012

Update from the seamstresses!

Computer Classes with Flor and Justa
Computer Classes with Flor and Justa

Dear supporters,

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Awamaki Lab sewing cooperative. This is a special project report, written by Paula, one of the seamstresses (translated from the Spanish). We think this is a great testament to the increasing ownership and direction they are taking over the project!

Paula writes,

The achievements of the past months have been our improved mastery of the patterns. We have done a number of orders including 30 mini skirts, 20 outerwear pieces, 20 change purses, 20 clutches, 30 shoulder bags, 15 t-shirts and 10 iPad cases.

Currently we are working on 10 skirts, 10 shoulder bags, 10 Gargi-style bags, 4 belts, 3 ponchos, 30 coin purses and 50 clutches.

What we like about the project is the experience we are acquiring. We are learning about each collection. We are not just learning to sew but also to read patterns. Our favorite products to sew are the shoulder bags, skirt, change purses and the backpacks that we designed!

The challenges of the project for everyone have been improving the finishings on each item, and the new accessory items which incorporate techniques like grommet application.  We are still working to master these designs.

In the past few months, seamstresses have also taken charge of their production schedule, inventory and materials procurement.  This is the direction in which we are heading the next few months: increased mastery of products, increased leadership in managing orders, inventory and other cooperative business, and increased design responsibilities. The seamstresses continue to take workshops on technical skills, but we have expanded these workshops to include Excel, English, and local supply chain management.

Their products are being sold in our store in Ollantaytambo, online and in trunk shows in Seattle, San Francisco and New York this holiday season. They were recently featured in Vogue. Please contact us at info@awamaki.org for more information, and Annie@Awamaki.org for sales/press inquiries. 

Your support has allowed Awamaki to teach four inexperienced seamstresses to sew, read patterns, and create products for the international market; now, they are learning to manage their cooperative business and create their own designs. With every accomplishment, they are earning an increased income to support themselves, their families and their communities. Thank you for your role in making this project possible!

*Translation help and edits by Kennedy Leavens, Executive Director, and Annie Millican, Director/Founder of Lab

Product Wall, featuring collaborative design work
Product Wall, featuring collaborative design work
Estella & Justa working alongside Quechua weavers
Estella & Justa working alongside Quechua weavers
Product pricing workshop
Product pricing workshop
Measuring raw materials for pricing
Measuring raw materials for pricing
Discussing textile specifications with weavers
Discussing textile specifications with weavers
Weavers self-managing Lab textile orders
Weavers self-managing Lab textile orders
Independent production work, Andria
Independent production work, Andria's outerwear

Links:

Oct 18, 2012

New phase for health projects and disabilities project

Hello supporters!

Sacred Valley Health, Awamaki's health spin-off, has been working hard on our disabilities campaign these past few months. As you know, SVH is a new organization with a focus on implementing promotoras (community health workers) in rural and underserved communities. Because of this we are sadly in the process of phasing out our disabilities campaign. Thus, we have made sustainable goals for each of our patients to ensure they will still receive the care and support they need even in our absence.

One of our patients, Paulino, a 52-year old man who suffered from a stroke 2 years ago, is currently in San Juan de Dios, a hospital in Cusco, receiving therapy three-times a week. Another one of our patients, Jose, a cheerful 20-year old with cerebral palsy, will be joining Arco Iris’ outreach program in the coming weeks. Arco Iris is a local school specifically geared towards children with disabilities. Their outreach program will enable Jose to be visited by a physiotherapist once a week as well as provide his family social and legal support.

You’ll also remember Nati, a spunky 76-year old woman who constantly reminds me that I cannot cook and will never be able to hook a man; she will continue to receive social support and interactions with volunteers from another organization, MySmallHelp (MSH). We have also been collaborating with MSH with our following two patients, Roxanna, an 11-year old with epilepsy, and Alex, a 14-year old with cerebral palsy. We hope that Roxanna will be able to attend Arco Iris in the next month. Their programs will enable her to receive more one-on-one attention with teachers specializing in children’s disabilities.

As for Alex,  our final funds from this project will go towards building him a new bedrail to prevent him from falling out of bed. We are also in the process of working with several organizations to determine a long-term sustainable solution for Alex. If you would like to continue to support us, please donate through http://www.globalgiving.org/donate/3422/awamaki/

Thank you for your support of this project! 

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