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!
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!