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The Antauta Knitters are a fledgling women’s group of hand knitting and hand spinning textiles artisans from Antauta, Peru that I have been working with, and for, for the past 2 years.
They’ve got an unmissable opportunity that will form the next step of their journey.
I need to ask you if you will share in this vision with me, and might for the first or second time, take action. The vision is for this fledgling group, to escape poverty through the use of their incredible textiles skills.
Since April this year I have been working in earnest on fundraising for the next stage of the work with the Antauta Knitters, and I am so excited to share that I have been awarded c.£3000 from Wales Arts International to take the next step with this project. Wales Arts have seen potential in this project and wanted to fund this next step, but there was one vital thing outside the remit of their funding, and that was the most important aspect of this project, getting The Antauta Knitters across Peru, to take up this amazing opportunity:
Award winning, Fair Trade Federation certified, superpower organisation, Awamaki have offered the group the opportunity for an intensive training programme, specially devised for The Antauta Knitters, to catapult their work to a new level.
You may have seen me shouting about Awamaki before, be it their beautiful fair trade, hand spun yarns, or their own collections of beautiful textiles. Kennedy, the founder of Awamaki, has been of huge support to me since my first trip out to Peru, offering her time and advice to me in talking through the journey with The Antauta Knitters.
The 2 day programme will give The Antauta Knitters the life changing opportunity to see women makers, within their own culture, who are established members of the Awamaki textiles cooperatives, getting paid fairly for their time and work, and to spend time with the members of the cooperatives, learning about the concepts of fair trade, the incredible worth of their work and time, routes to escaping poverty and gaining financial independence through using their phenomenal textiles skills and the way to use design skills to change their lives.
Awamaki have pledged over £1000 in support in kind for the project, volunteering their time, their resources, providing meals for The Antauta Knitters, and offering their years of experience and expertise in training the group throughout the programme to bring impactful change.
I will also be working with the group on artistic and design skills, and aim for the project to provide a launchpad for collaboration driven by each individual artisan, cultivating own expression within each women’s individual artisan practices, where they can develop the skills necessary for creating work using their own ideas. Our hope is that these individual artisans will develop their work following this programme, leading to life changing impact for them, socially and economically. The trip will be a revolutionary experience for The Antauta Knitters.
So, let’s get these knitters to Ollantaytambo.
This is where you come in.
Hailing from an incredibly rural area of Peru, the women will not have had the chance to see the way in which it is possible for them to use their skills to make a change in their life. Fair trade is a totally foreign concept to them. Their worth as women is a totally foreign concept to them. Their textiles skills being of incredible value to them is a totally foreign concept to them. Awamaki have over a decade of experience, and work with 12 cooperatives currently, taking cooperatives through training programmes until those coop’s are self-sufficient, they’ve learnt all they need to about designing and making, quality control, finances, education, self esteem, empowerment and their human and women’s rights to become profitable independent cooperatives dotted around the Andes, having worked their way out of poverty.
20 Antauta Knitters have signed up to wend their way to Ollantaytambo, a mix of spinning and knitting artisans, we’ve got:
They are ready to make the journey.
I’ve done the journey myself and it is a big one! Trekking way over the Andes, and up into The Sacred Valley, the over night journey alone will be a once in a lifetime experience for these women, teaching one of the first important values, that they are empowered, they are able to work towards their own goals and they have all of the ability to do what they need to do already.
They just need the funds.
We need to cover each women’s travel, her accommodation in Ollantaytambo, and meals throughout the trip. Per woman, this is only around £85 each.
I’ve split this up into manageable chunks too, so you can contribute to each women’s travel, accommodation or food for her trip, making this even more achievable to gather together the funds for each woman to get to Ollantaytambo, for just £15 you can cover one knitter’s accommodation, and it’s only £40 to get each knitter a return trip from Antauta to Ollantaytambo, with all of the training being provided for the women, in kind, by the wonderful, Awamaki.
Be part of the revolution working for change through textiles, donate and share now.
£10 = Chip In: if 200 of you chip in, we get to the target and we cover all of the costs as a collective.
£15 = One knitter's accommodation
£20 = One knitter's travel, one way
£30 = One knitter's meals throughout the trip
£40 = One knitter's return trip
£85 = Sponsor one knitter's entire journey! Accommodation, food, and travel.
What does the Wales Arts funding cover?
This money will cover my travel, my accommodation during the project, funds for translators (whilst my Spanish is still in progress!), materials for the workshops, crochet hooks, knitting needles, yarns, and travel to and from Cusco and Ollantaytambo to organise The Antauta Knitters trip.
Why do the Antauta Knitters have to travel so far?
Antauta is incredibly remote and there is not even a big city like Cusco nearby that would attract NGO’s or volunteers to work with communities this far out. The nearest city is Juliaca, which is still over an hour away, and there is no opportunity or industry there, and so currently, the women’s textiles products are taken by a family member to Cusco, over 8 hours away by bus, to be sold in a small shop. This is why organisations like Awamaki, who can offer this life changing experience to the women, are so far away, as they are all based in more touristy areas nearer tourist cities like Cusco, which provide much more opportunity for economic success.
Why is the programme only 2 days long?
Many of the women from the group have young children who they care for full time. There are no social structures for childcare or structures that would allow women to work. Gender equality issues are prevalent and generally childcare would not be shared between husbands and wives but fall solely on the women. The only way in which women in these remote areas can change this is to work from home using their textiles skills. As this training programme forms part of this process to eventual financial sustainability through home working for the women, as sole carers for their children, being away from their families for any time at all is totally counter cultural and very difficult in practice, as most men work away from the communities in the mining industries, due to the demise of textiles industries. This situation is all part of the negative effects of the lack of value placed on textiles work, as more and more members of rural communities have to leave their homes and work away in cities or different industries in order to try to make ends meet. It is wonderful that these women have been able to sign up for the programme even for these 2 days, and is a very positive sign of progress.
Are you getting paid for this?
I consider it a genuine honour for my work to have taken me in this direction and to be working alongside this group. Their talent and skill is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and to work alongside them is truly incredible. I am so happy to be able to give my time voluntarily for this work. As mentioned previously, my costs for this trip are generously covered by Wales Arts, which includes flights, accommodation and money for food. Obviously, it’s rare that I can find day jobs that accommodate my time in Peru voluntarily, and so I have recently left my day job to pursue this incredible opportunity to work again with The Antauta Knitters. This is my choice and I am so lucky and privileged to be able to make it.
Are there any risks involved with planning the trip?
A friend of mine who spent several years living in Peru told me that the Quechuan word for ‘future’ can be literally translated to mean ‘that which is behind me’; this is to illustrate that we are not able to ‘predict’ the future, and that we travel ‘backwards’ through life, without being able to see forward to what will happen next, we can only see back to our past with certainty. This completely summarises the Peruvian approach to planning (!) and definitely brings risk along with planning the trip. It may well be that attendance of all 20 women could be an issue when the trip comes around, childcare issues could come up, or this cultural approach to forward planning in Peruvian culture could be a barrier. I am confident that the member of the community I am in constant touch with will be able to confirm all the necessary plans and that he understands the importance of commitment and planning. Previously, he successfully gathered the group altogether for my visit in one house in the village, all at the right time, on the right day. I am confident he will be able to succeed with this again. He is already aware of the proposed timings for the trip in October, how hard I’m working to raise the funds and has supplied me with the sign up list of the women, who are all aware and prepped about the opportunity on offer. He has conveyed to me how excited they are about the trip, and how grateful he is that we are working towards this. All we can do is to plan this with as much care as possible, and open hearts to a different culture to ours. I take my responsibility to steward these funds with utmost sincerity and responsibility and I will work continually in the run up to the trip to ensure that they are used for their intended purpose and we work as hard as we can to ensure attendance from all 20 women.
Will I receive anything as a reward for my donation?
I will be posting out a 'Thank You' photograph card of The Antauta Knitters to each donor. Please send me your address here.
Thank you so much for giving your time in reading about this project, this work is what drives me, and I believe that it is vital, and that projects like this one create revolutionary change.
You can help to make that change by sharing this campaign, posting about it, telling people you think might be interested, and most of all, donating now.
If you want to know more about my work as an ethical designer, you can have a look here.
Music Credit: The Restless Writer - Charli Bicknell
Thanks to Paul Cruchley and Sophie Rowe for their help with this campaign, thanks always to Awamaki, and to Wales Arts International for their support.
- paula gallagher
- Cindy Rethmeier
- Emma Carbis
- dom Watson
- Jo Thomas
Organizer and beneficiary
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom