Threads of Peru Blog
Thoughts at the beginning of 2012 “How did I end up writing the New Year message?” I wonder, as I ponder whether a New Year’s message is about the past or the future… and whether its even a New Years message, when you are writing it more than 30 days into the New Year.
Regardless, I forge on deciding a New Years Message can be about both the past and the future.
2011 was a big year for us, as we employed a fantastic Cusco based Project Manager, Amanda Zenick, and were blessed with the talents of two great volunteers, Fani Karaivanova, Textile Project Assistant & Community Liaison and Frankie Ginnett Assistant Volunteer Coordinator & Project Assistant who have all contributed to advancing the project considerably.
Here you can see Amanda Zenick and Fani Karaivanova working hard to measure everything at the entrega
The idea of having more people “hands on deck” is to relieve the pressure and hours worked on the founders, who are still completely voluntary. What actually happened is that the Founders moved onto new projects, including spreading the marketing of the project further!
This year our Ebay store was absolutely beautiful, thanks to the design talents of Angie Hodder and Adam Foster Collins, and of a number of photographers in Cusco, including volunteer Lynn Dao. In 2012 we will be expanding into an Ethical Community store and hope in the not too distant future to have our own store on our website!
We also should make special note of our patient Master weaver, Daniel Sonqo who put in a sensational year’s work, enduring our requests for different styles and dimensions, and then transforming these requirements into beautiful weavings with the women of our different weaving groups.
Here you can see Daniel giving a talk to the women in Chaullacocha at the pedido, he is asking them what they would like to weave. Due to the heavy rain this talk takes place inside the greenhouse!
As I look back over the year, there are many small and large successes, but in short – we have achieved a lot and have a lot of people to thank, not the least everyone who “put their money where their mouth is” and supported us by buying a fair trade weaving.
Each year the Project takes a weather directed hiatus for several months (January and February) as it’s difficult, if not impossible, to access the communities where we work. So currently we are busy planning, budgeting and dreaming about what we can create for the project in 2012. In general terms – we would like our women to continue improving their weavings, and for us to sell more of their weavings, which will in turn bring a better quality of life to their remote communities.
An example of one of the beautiful ponchos made this year by the women we work with.
Happy New Year everyone!
Ariana Svenson, Co- Founder
Name: Paulina Sicos Huaman
Community: Rumira Sondormayo
Position: I am the Treasurer of the community's weaving assocation.
Age: 56+ - I am not completely sure.
Marital Status: I am married.
Children: I have six children, three girls and three boys.
Favourite Article to weave: I like to weave the challina because it is less difficult to create.
What is your favourite pallay: I like to weave pallays of animals, I have a lot of experience weaving these so now I can do them more quickly and easily than other pallays.
Favourite Animal: My favourite animal is the alpaca, to eat.
What are your favourite colours for weaving: I have always liked red and white.
Do you prefer to work at home or outside: I prefer to work outside because it is calmer.
What hopes and dreams do you have for your children, will they go to school: I have two sons studying in Lima, the other is working as a labourer in the jungle. The others all have families.
What is your favourite thing about your village: I like the freedom of the countryside.
What is the biggest change to happen in your village in the last few years: There is more education, even for the girls. There is now a medical centre and roads.
N.B These interviews were conducted in Quechua and then translated into Spanish and then English so although we try and keep as close to the weavers responses as possible there will undoubtedly be some disparity.
The famous images of indigenous women weaving against a stunning mountain backdrop are very eye catching and appealing. However the reality is working outside is not that enjoyable, especially in the wet season, which lasts 4 -5 months of the year starting in November and continuing through with greater intensity to peak in February.
The wet season months are also typically low season for tourists, and so as most of the supplementary income for the communities which comes from the men working as muleteers or porters dries up.
Threads of Peru would like to continue to work with the craftswomen during these months, but if the weavings get wet, they stretch and warp. Also, if we make orders during these months we know that the women weave in their houses, which are very dark even during the day. There is no electricity so weaving during the night is out of the question. It is so dark in the houses that their eyes suffer significant strain, and as most houses do not have a chimney they fill up quickly with smoke damaging the quality of the weaving and, more importantly, the health of the weaver.Weaving houses, which are relatively simple to construct and provide multiple benefits:
- Shelter from elements while weaving or meeting in the long wet season
- A meeting place for women
- Place to host visitors to the community and put weavings on display.
- It has potential to be a sheltered campsite for visitors to the community.
There is a temptation amongst foreigners working with these remote villagers to do everything for the community, so we have been waiting for the communities to take the lead on this project and so to encourage sustainability from within.
We are currently working with the community in Rumira Sondormayo who have now organised some land by the river for their weaving house, and fenced it off.
Furthermore, we have secured funding from some generous Canadian donors (who have trekked with our partners Apus Peru two years running) who will assist in the purchase of materials needed and which cannot be obtained in the community.
All manual labour needed to construct the Rumira Sondormayo weaving house will be from the community, in keeping with the traditional principle of ayni.
We hope to post pictures of this shelter very soon!