Dear GlobalGiving donors,
I am writing to thank you for your generous donations to our project and to share with you the incredible progress we’ve made with the members of our Women’s Fair Trade Cooperative Program. At Awamaki, we view the exercise of gratitude as an important and humbling exchange that reminds us of how far we’ve come and what our aspirations are in the coming months. Since the infancy of this project, your donations have been used not only to preserve traditional Andean weaving methods and textile designs, but also to remind the members of our cooperatives that their beautiful, handmade, products are continuously treasured and appreciated by others.
Our work at Awamaki Lab is a collaborative effort between the resident designers, the Quechua women in our weaving cooperatives, and the local seamstresses who work in Ollanta. Every season we are challenged to reinterpret the traditional, and this coming fall is no exception. Awamaki Lab and its cooperative partners are already hard at work re-designing products from our previous collections. As Awamaki Lab’s reputation continues to grow, and the number of customized orders increases, it’s important that our growing clientele understands the integrity and traditions behind the symbols in the products they request. Awamaki has taken it upon themselves to define the symbols and patterns found within the traditional Andean designs called pallay. Pallay is a Quechua word that refers to the motions and mechanics of warp faced weaving on a back strap loom. However, pallay is also the terminology for the graphic designs woven into each product. As there is no official record or definition for each pallay symbol, the Awamaki designers are collaborating with the Quechan women to compile a “look-book” with the definitions and symbolism for each pallay design. With the help of your donations, we would like to publish a physical book to be displayed in Awamaki’s fair trade store, and to also have a downloadable version available on our website to provide our clientele with a greater appreciation for the products they order and purchase.
In other news, Awamaki Lab is entrusting the members of our weaving cooperatives with additional responsibilities. Each woman is now required to personally sew tags with the product description and her name into the items she has made. In doing so, we hope the women will feel a greater sense of empowerment knowing that their work is correctly attributed to each of the artisans. To our donors who have supported us by buying the items that are made by these talented women, you are supporting their livelihoods and providing them with a regular source of income. Of equal importance is the fact that you’re helping to preserve the beautiful Andean textiles so that they may continue to be admired and treasured by generations to come.
When you make a donation to Awamaki you help in two important ways: your contributions to the specific project of “Empowering Women Through Design in Rural Peru” help us empower talented women to realize their true artistic potential; your contributions to Awamaki as an entire organization help us to successfully run our programs while always looking for ways to expand our impact and reach within the Sacred Valley region.
The Awamaki staff, and members of our cooperatives, thank you for your interest. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress!
Marcelina is 23 years old and has a young son. She completed two years of primary school, but she doesn't read, write or speak Spanish. She lives in the high Andean community of Kelkanca, a village of 50 families at nearly 13,000 feet of elevation. She and her husband farm potatoes and other tubers, the only crops that grow at that altitude.
With no electricity, and about 2.5 hours from the nearest town, Kelkanca is cut off from modern markets and amenities. Before she began working with Awamaki, Marcelina did not have any source of cash income, and only made textiles for her and her family's clothing. She and her family subsisted on their potatoes. This year, Marcelina participated in quality workshops with Awamaki, and now she can sell her textiles through Awamaki. She says she uses her income to buy food at the village Sunday market, where she can find carrots, beans, onions, rice, sugar, salt and oil.
Marcelina knows what her son needs, and donations allow us to teach her the skills she needs to earn money to meet those needs. In 2014, we aim add 20 more women to join our programs. We aim to deepen the skills of the women with whom we already work so that they can progress towards being successful, independent business women.
Your donations fund this skills empowerment. As we build these skills, we can increasingly connect them to market opportunities so that they can earn income. The women do the rest. They invest in their families's nutrition, in their kids' education, in concrete floors and warm clothes for the cold Andean winter. They tranform their communities and lift their families out of poverty, woman by woman, household by household.
Please contribute to Awamaki today and give a sustainable, prosperous future to Marcelina and more women like her.
Thank you so much and best wishes for a new year!
Justa is a lady with gumption. She is from the community of Rumira, a half hour from Ollantaytambo. Before working with Awamaki, Justa did everything she could to provide for her son, Efraim, 4. She sold knit goods in the plaza of Ollantaytambo to bring in a little money. She even worked as a transportista, or combi driver, which is unheard of for a woman. Transportistas drive the small vans that careen down Peru's highways, stuffed to the brim with people, animals and goods, charging about 1.5 soles, or 40 cents, for a half-hour trip.
Justa now works as a seamstress with Awamaki. She takes the weavings made by women in Awamaki's weaving cooperative and sews iPad cases, tote bags and mini skirts for sale in the U.S. In her time at Awamaki, she has learned skills in sewing, pattern-making, and design.
Justa says her work with Awamaki is much more dependable than that as a transportista, and she can bring her son to work when she needs to. Justa can often be found at the office at five in the morning, getting a head start on her day's work so she can be home with Efrain during the day. "Now that I have steady work, I can give a better life to my son," she says. She is saving money from her wages to put towards his future education.
Whether it's food, health care or schooling, Justa knows what Efraim needs. Your donation allows us to teach her the skills required for her to earn money to meet those needs. In 2014, we aim to add 20 more women to our programs. We also aim to begin administration training with them so that they can progress towards being successful, independent business women.
Your donations fund this skills empowerment. As we build these skills, we can increasingly connect women to market opportunities so that they can earn income. The women do the rest. They invest in their families's nutrition, in their kids' education, in concrete floors and warm clothes for the cold Andean winter. They tranform their communities and lift their families out of poverty, woman by woman, household by household.
Please contribute to Awamaki today and give a sustainable, prosperous future to Justa and more women like her.