Awamaki is currently working with our ten spinners to teach felting. In the raw fleece that they spin, there are fibers that are too short for spinning. Until now, these fibers went unused. Felting with this leftover fiber allows the spinners to use waste material to make beautiful felted products they can sell.
From January to April, Awamaki hosted two Designer Residents, Joey Korein and Rosie Boycott-Brown, who led the felting project. Joey has a background in fiber arts and teaching, and Rosie in knitwear design. The two designers worked with Awamaki's hand-spinning cooperative in Huilloc to make felt and soft alpaca felted products with the waste fiber left-over from the spinning process. The spinners had never felted before, so Rosie and Joey developed products in order of difficulty and traveled to Huilloc weekly to teach the 10 women the steps for producing different types of felted designs.
The design workshops were accompanied by classes in product costing, given by the Awamaki team. In April, the spinning cooperative had the opportunity to meet Nicole Gulotta of Nomadic Thread Society in NYC. Nicole explained to them the process she goes through as an importer to give the women a better understanding of the chain of production.
Awamaki has already begun selling two of the felted products in our local store in Peru, and has received orders from Nomadic Thread Society for one product, felted baby booties. Awamaki plans to reinforce these new skills by continuing to bring designer residents to work with the cooperatives in Peru and improve the women's felting skills. Eventually, Awamaki and it's volunteers plan to teach the women to lead the product design process as well.
Income in the hands of women is the best way to lift communities out of poverty. The new skills that the ten women have learned empower them to be leaders and better care for their families and communities. As a successful social enterprise, most of Awamaki's core costs are covered by income from our programs, but the cost of workshops that teach new skills, like felting, are entirely funded by donations like the funds we receive through this GlobalGiving project.
Thank you so much for your support!
Since our last project report, Awamaki has been busy working with our artisan groups to improve their effectiveness as global pioneers, and leaders in their households and communities.
Awamaki is currently administering a pilot program of financial leadership workshops to the women of our knitting cooperative. The women of the cooperative currently lack basic financial knowledge and skills. Through these workshops, the women are learning skills such as how to use a bank account, the difference between formal and informal savings accounts, how to keep a household budget and what it means to be economically competitive in the global market. These skills allow the women to manage cooperative finances, which increases the sustainability and self-sufficiency of the cooperative. Awamaki is training several women from the knitting cooperative and once they complete the course, they in turn will teach financial management skills to the rest of the women in the cooperative.
Giving the knitters financial and leadership skills not only empowers them to manage the finances of the cooperative; it also allows them to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. Saving for the future, for things like education and medical bills, is not a common practice in rural Andean communities. However, as the women of Awamaki earn income through their participation in our programs, their new financial skills allow them to fully leverage their increased economic power for the long-term benefit of their families. These skills give them the knowledge and confidence they need to plan, budget, use banks and save.
Your support through GlobalGiving allows Awamaki to support the women of our cooperatives with skill building and knowledge training. Workshops like the financial leadership workshops translate directly into increased economic opportunities and a better life for the women and their families. Please stay tuned for more updates about our financial workshops!
Finally, if you have a mom in your life who embodies women’s empowerment, consider donating a Gift for Good for her this Mother’s Day. Donate to this project today and receive a hand woven, one-of-a-kind iPad case for your favorite mom!
Since our last update, the women of Awamaki’s Spanish teachers cooperative have continued to improve their teaching skills, and are constantly looking for ways to expand the success of their cooperative. In the past few months, the women have opened new lines of communication between themselves and their students in an effort to identify gaps in both their teaching style and their curriculum. Together, the women have decided to create evaluations to distribute to their students through which the women hope to learn new ways they can improve their classes. A tight knit group, the women of the Spanish teacher’s cooperative work very well together, and because of this they have been able to come up with some really effective ideas and plans of action over the past few months.
Alongside of their teaching commitments, the women of the cooperative have also been participating in computer and English classes held here at the Awamaki office in Ollantaytambo every week. As the women themselves work to improve their technical and idiomatic skills, they can continue to become qualified teachers with the appropriate knowledge needed to educate others. With your support, capacity building and skills training will remain successful and thriving, and the women of the cooperative can keep on building blocks of success for the future.
Goals for the women are always adding up, and at last week’s meeting the teachers expressed their interest in learning to teach Quechua so that they can teach others interested in learning their native language. The cooperative also hopes to gain some basic marketing skills so that they can begin to promote their own classes and programs. Most of the women in the cooperative agreed that what they need right now is support from the staff and volunteers at Awamaki; support that will allow them to develop their own outreach strategies and expand their teaching efforts into niche markets in Ollantaytambo, such as Quechua. Skills, like those of marketing, will put power in the hands of the women, allowing them to make their own decisions and eventually assume complete responsibility of the cooperative.
The considerable successes for Awamaki’s Spanish teachers cooperative would not be possible without the kind and continued support of the organization’s donors. Awamaki’s GlobalGiving donors have aided the development of the cooperative, and now with continued giving will be supporting improvements and advanced skills training amongst the women involved. Each dollar donated positively impacts the women’s lives in a profound way, and allows them to develop expertise of their own that will help them continue to support themselves, their family and their community!