Awamaki

Awamaki collaborates with the greater Ollantaytambo community to create economic opportunities and improve social well-being.
Mar 18, 2015

Clutch re-design

Studying leather technique
Studying leather technique

Happy Bonus Day from Awamaki!

This Bonus Day, we want you to meet Laura and Meghan, two of Awamaki’s talented resident designer interns who have been hard at work with our seamstresses updating one of our new products.

Laura and Meghan have spent the last two weeks working on redesigning the clutch. After listening to our customers’ feedback, our designers realized that a few things needed to be changed. Among other issues, the leather finishes were difficult to align, so the top of the clutch was coming out crooked.

Rather than making a new product from scratch, Meghan said, “This was problem solving!”

In order to make the best product possible, they crafted several samples and used them to come up with ways to solve the problems and update the design with more modern textiles. “You realize that once you change one problem, it can lead to others,”Laura explained. The fashion student used her expertise as a seamstress to improve the bag’s overall quality.

Once they discovered the best design, they made suggestions to improve the order in which the pieces were put together in order to to streamline production. Last week, they sat down with our seamstresses to teach them how to make the entire clutch. To improve quality, they also taught the seamstresses a new technique. Laura and Meghan worked with Justa and Estela to teach them how to properly work with leather using leather glue and hammer. New to working with leather, Justa and Estela were excited about learning a new skill that they can apply to other products as well.

“This new technique makes the work come out so much better,” Estela told us. “I can use this for the Ivy Bag too, and other new products we are making.”

Your contributions enable us to fund the trainings that we do with the seamstresses so they can continue to refine their skills. This Bonus Day, please consider supporting their ongoing skills and design development with the artisans at Awamaki, and your donation will be matched by GlobalGiving to multiply your impact!

Thank you!

Working on leather
Working on leather
Previous clutch with crooked leather finishing
Previous clutch with crooked leather finishing
Redesigned clutch sample for teaching
Redesigned clutch sample for teaching

Links:

Mar 18, 2015

Learning "More please!" and other useful phrases

Learning about fruits after a trip to the market
Learning about fruits after a trip to the market

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!

In the classroom
In the classroom

Links:

Dec 30, 2014

Meet Jesusa!

Jesusa learns plant dyes as a teenager in 2008
Jesusa learns plant dyes as a teenager in 2008

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.

Jesusa with her daughter, Lourdes, in 2013
Jesusa with her daughter, Lourdes, in 2013
 
   

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