Awamaki is a non-profit organisation working with impoverished Quechua women weavers to improve their skills and increase their access to the market. The benefits of this are two-fold, to revitalise the weaving tradition and also to provide Quechua women with a reliable source of income. Awamaki also runs sustainable tourism programs that allow travellers to experience Ollantaytambo’s vibrant culture, while also assuring that local indigenous people benefit from the income that tourism provides. In addition, Awamaki runs educational programs to support the rural women’s artisan cooperatives, and to support members of the local community aspiring to succeed in the tourism-based economy. Awamaki has a volunteer-operated fair trade store in Ollantaytambo and a weaving center in the Quechua community of Patacancha. The weaving center was built in partnership with Awamaki by the weavers and their family members in a traditional work party faena, which provided materials and volunteer labour. The center serves as a place for the weavers to meet and weave, a place for the knitters to meet twice a week, a place to hold workshops, and a sustainable tourism visiting center.
Awamaki is comprised of a Peruvian “Asociación Civil” and a U.S. 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization working closely together to promote community development in Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru. Awamaki was formed in early 2009 with the mission to “collaborate with the greater Ollantaytambo community to create economic opportunities and improve social well-being of community members.” They work with women and rural and indigenous families in Ollantaytambo and the surrounding high Andean communities through their programs in women’s cooperatives, community education and sustainable tourism.
Awamaki runs three main programme areas:
The Women’s Cooperatives programme organises women’s groups who work in spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing. Through regular skill-building workshops Awamaki enables the women to improve the quality of their products. Awamaki then connects the cooperatives with access to local and international markets through their local Fair Trade Store and international sales.
The Awamaki Sustainable Tourism programme directly benefits community members. They work with local artisans and weavers in their cooperatives that would otherwise not have access to the tourism market. By promoting cultural and educational tourism to those passing through Ollantaytambo Awamaki Tours offers travellers unique insight into Quechua life and provides local families with additional income.
The Awamaki Community Education programme arranges for international volunteers to teach classes in English and IT/computing. They work with staff, volunteers and external trainers to run capacity building workshops that cover a variety of topics such as managing household finances or working with tourists. Through these classes and workshops, Awamaki aims to give community members the opportunity to build skills and access information that enables them to increase their incomes and quality of life.
Through its different interests and involvement in the community Awamaki wants to increase the ability of local people to be self-sustaining in healthy cooperation with the environment, their history & culture, their visitors, and the opportunities of the modern world.
What you can do
As an Awamaki volunteer, you will have the opportunity to connect with local people, get involved with a project you are passionate about, and learn a tonne about development issues and the work required to overcome them. Programme coordinators support volunteer projects throughout their stay. Each volunteer receives a specific programme placement based on their interests and skills and performs projects that respond to the needs of the organisation and the communities. Some placements require specialised skills and a certain level of Spanish.
You will be helping local community members learn the skills for economic success. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand teaching experience and immerse yourself in Peruvian culture by forming meaningful bonds with students. You can participate in the following projects and activities:
• Teach English as a Second Language classes for adults
• Teach computer literacy classes for adults with virtually no computer skills
• Perform curriculum development and lesson planning
• Advanced Spanish-speaking volunteers can lead workshops for women’s cooperatives
• Teach children with partner organisations, such as Yachay Wasi preschool
• Lead needs assessment research activities to determine community educational needs
Sustainable Tourism Volunteer
You will work to connect women, families and the rural poor with the economic opportunities that tourism can offer. We do this through our homestay programme, Quechua community visits, artisan workshops, weaving and dye workshops and Spanish language classes. As a sustainable tourism volunteer, you will be able to participate in the following activities:
• Lead Half-day tours and cultural immersion programmes in indigenous Quechua communities
• Work with the Sustainable Tourism Coordinator to offer operational support for the programme and participate in the research and development of its initiatives
• Promote responsible tourism practices
• Facilitate intercultural exchange
• Support Awamaki’s weaving cooperative in the remote community of Patacancha
• Learn about the culture of Ollantaytambo as well as traditional weaving and dyeing techniques
Weaving Project Volunteer
You will work with knitters, seamstresses, and indigenous Quechua weavers to improve their skills and increase their access to market. Awamaki partners with cooperatives that are self-directed and managed by the artisans themselves. Volunteers must be pursuing a degree or have a background in design with a minimum of at least one 3-month internship experience. You will be able to participate in the following activities:
• Develop systems, supply chains and products that build upon local techniques and knowledge
• Ensure a sustainable source of income for rural women in Ollantaytambo
• Work directly with the artisans producing the products
• Improve products and create new product for our expanding collection
• Promote and protect endangered craft traditions
You will make vital contributions to Awamaki’s marketing and community relations by promoting the organisation locally and internationally. Volunteers are welcome to document life in Ollantaytambo, life in the indigenous communities above Ollantaytambo, the textile tradition of these communities, festivals, little-known Inca sites and ruins, and other beautiful and stunning aspects of Andean life. Your projects will be directed by the Media Coordinator to fit the overall goals and needs of Awamaki.
The Awamaki volunteer program admits volunteers who can commit to three-month minimum stay. This is for the benefit of the projects, the people and the volunteers. Awamaki is currently developing programs to provide short-term service travel opportunities.
Approximately USD 100-199 per week
Please see volunteer postings on idealist.org for complete pricing information of individual volunteer placements.
Rural; Ollantaytambo calls itself the “Living Inca City”, you’ll be amongst impressive Inca ruins and be part of a community that still farm using the fields and irrigation system built and developed by the Inca. The town is nestled amid towering mountains, and the lives of Ollanta’s residents are closely connected to the two seasons – dry and rainy – and the land from which they earn their livelihoods.
Every week thousands of tourists pass through on their way to Machu Picchu.
Homestays are common throughout Peru and volunteers are introduced to homestays when they volunteer with Awamaki. All aspects of day-to-day life, including meals are shared with the family.
Transport to/from the airport is included in your programme fee.
Interested to volunteer with this programme? Get in touch using the little form a the top of the page, through our social networks or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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