It’s not just another scholarship program. It’s not just another fair-trade textile store. It’s not just another travel agency. It’s all of those in one.
With complex problems must come complex interdisciplinary solutions. Therefore, we have created a multi-pronged organization that combines two social enterprises and one charitable program to collectively tackle our goal.
Through our model, all generations (youth to elders), rights-holders (community members and artists) and many stakeholders (business owners, tourists, and consumers) are actively involved in flipping the cycle of systemic oppression. Through Mosqoy, culture and economy support each other, rather than fight against one another.
Mosqoy began after Ashli Akins witnessed a false dichotomy that was continuously playing out in the communities of the Sacred Valley of Peru: a clash between cultural revitalization and economic development.
While indigenous Quechua women and elders try to keep their culture alive in the face of a globalized capitalist marketplace, youth of the region try to grasp onto new job sectors that are seemingly at their fingertips, though slightly out of reach.
Both competition with machine-made synthetic knock-offs and discrimination against the Indigenous Quechua culture have led to a decline of the textile tradition, a culturally rich knowledge system that has provided empowerment and voice to Indigenous campesino women for generations. Because the textile tradition is passed down orally, elders fear that – within this one generation – if youth do not learn the art, it will disappear.
On the other side of this dichotomy, new job opportunities are seemingly at the fingertips of the youth of these communities, as hotels, roads, and restaurants pop up. But because this is the first generation to work in these new job sectors, their teachers and parents cannot train them in the skills they need to be employable, and most youth do not have the funding to receive formal training. Thus, local youth are left unemployed, as outsiders from the cities easily outcompete for local jobs.
Millions of dollars enter this region, representing a huge economic growth and a prospering “middle-income” country. But the money does not go into the hands of local families, and is not distributed so that those who face the consequences of development reap the benefits.
Binary representing perceived lack of options faced by Quechua weavers, by Ashli Akins, 2013, In Defense of the Artist, master’s thesis, University of Oxford.
These two vicious cycles – of cultural loss and poverty – are the invisible stories underlying all of the beauty. Many community members – youth, elders, and families – of the region feel as though they must choose between keeping their culture alive and developing economically.
Our Working Model:
We have created a multi-pronged system to combat this challenge, uniting elders and youth in the fight against cultural loss and systemic poverty. Our Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles supports Indigenous weavers who practice their textile tradition to keep their culture alive while economically stabilizing their families and communities. Our Mosqoy Field School works to shift the effects of tourism and development from negative to positive, by educating consumers and travellers about how to be more responsible guests when visiting sacred Indigenous lands, both here in Peru and all over the world. Profits from these social enterprises support our charitable program, the Mosqoy Youth Program, which supports the most promising youth from these communities to find employment in their regions’ new job sectors, by providing post-secondary educational scholarships.