What is Awamaki?
Awamaki is a small non-profit organization that brings economic opportunity to an association of Quechua women weavers from impoverished, rural communities in the high Andes. Tapping the Quechua weaving tradition for its international marketability, Awamaki aims to empower these young indigenous women to participate in a modernizing economy in a way that allows them to maintain their culture. We work with these women to improve the quality of their weavings, revitalize the textile tradition, and most importantly, ensure a reliable income for them.
Please see http://www.awamaki.org/.
How does the Santa Fe Int'l Folk Art Market fit in?
Like Awamaki, the annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in New Mexico seeks to celebrate and preserve traditional art and culture and to promote its utilization in creating a dignified and sustainable living for folk artists who often have unreliable access to the modern economy. Two of our weavers, who have never before traveled outside of the region of Cusco, have been invited to attend the event as representatives of their association. Not only is this an amazing and rare opportunity for them, it will also give Awamaki textiles more exposure than ever before in a consumer setting, thereby securing Awamaki's presence in the international marketplace and multiplying the distribution base of our fair trade catalog. The long-term increase in sales from this event will enable Awamaki to expand into more isolated Quechua communities and to support more weavers and their families.
Why do Sabina, Magdalena, and the other Awamaki weavers need your help?
With the arrival of roads, electricity and schools in the last 15 years, the modern economy has penetrated the once isolated Quechua communities of Patacancha. Formerly subsistence workers, Quechua families, especially women, are becoming more dependent on and marginalized by the monetary economy. Poverty is grave in these communities. Men often leave the community for work, leaving women to care for their land, children and animals. These women need income for modern expenses like healthcare, education, and food and must relinquish their traditional ways of life to meet these expenses.
Weaving is among the Quechua traditions being lost to the modern economy. Woven cloth has been an integral part of Quechua life. Reverence for cloth is deeply-rooted in Quechua culture; it was used to barter and is still a highly-valued possession. As Quechua traditionally has no written language, the iconography in weaving allows Quechua people to tell stories, communicate ideas and pass down information. As globalization and the monetary economy reach remote areas of the Andes, weaving is losing the economic value it once held. Women are abandoning the tradition, forced to alter their lives in order to accommodate new forms of economic activity.
Awamaki seeks economic justice for these women; a means of participating in the monetary economy that does not require them to change their way of life. By affording women the opportunity to earn an income from a traditional activity, we are not only helping to conserve that tradition, but also granting the women financial independence.
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