Thought the Textiles Series was finished? Think again, my friend. One more final follow up, but this time more specific to the AASD’s work with traditional Peruvian textiles and the people that make them.
As you probably know, the AASD is helping connect rural indigenous artisans to international markets. Currently, we work with one women’s weaving association located in Choquecancha, Peru. This association is called Wiñay Warmi, which means “Growing Women” in Quechua. And that’s just what we help these women do. We help them grow.
How do we help them wiñay (grow)?
The connection of rural artisans to an international market serves as a temporary avenue for income generation. The goal? Sustainable income and women’s empowerment. But the kicker – and the big difference between the AASD and many other organizations – is that we don’t envision our involvement as a forever thing. We use our temporary involvement as a way to help the women organize, learn basic business essentials (such as savings and investment), and make their own decisions about their future. We help facilitate that learning process. This is the way to a sustainable income, and it empowers women and girls to seize the opportunity.
Wiñay Warmi Update
We’ve been unsure about our progress and impact until recently. Over the course of the last year and a half, the AASD has been selling INKAcases, a product that we make from textiles that the AASD purchases from Wiñay Warmi. The women have saved a small amount of money, which they plan to reinvest into a local business. This business will be fully operated by the women’s group.
Watching the process unfold has been a moving experience, and the women don’t quite understand its impact. At least not yet. They took the initiative to discuss small business ventures, and they deliberated as a group about pros and cons. They democratically came to an agreement. They saved money collectively, something previously unthinkable for many in this impoverished community.
So what is that business?
It’s a CUY BUSINESS! That’s right. Guinea pigs. With the help of the local government technicians, the women will reinvest their hard earned savings into growing and selling guinea pigs. (If you are unaware, guinea pigs are one of the few sources of protein in the rural Quechua communities.)
So next time you’re in Choquecancha, maybe you can purchase a delicious WIñay Warmi cuy meal. ~Cheryl