Merry late Christmas and a happy beginning to the New Year! I recently got back from vacationing in Colombia and have hit the ground running. Last weekend, I had two community visits in the communities of Huaran and Amaru, where I purchased some beautiful new textiles that soon will be shipped to Canada! As I continue working for Q'ente, I cannot help but realize how much I am learning! I attribute this to the fantastic learning community that Mosqoy has created. Not only are learning opportunities given to disadvantaged youth from the Sacred Valley through the Andean Youth Program, but Mosqoy also provides amazing learning opportunities to their volunteers, like me! Therefore, I must shout, I am happy to be part of the Mosqoy learning community!
This new year Q’ente has some exciting new projects that I am happy to announce! The first is welcoming our new volunteer photographer, Diana Carolina Aldana Martinez. Carolina has spent part of her last year working with the indigenous community of Macedonia in the Colombian Amazon, where she was working on a photography project with indigenous women teaching them how to take photographs. This project was intended to empower these woman to be able to tell their story as indigenous Tikuna women. Carolina has since finished the training phase of this project, which lasted two months, but the women continue to explore photography and think of how to express their personal stories through a photographic medium. Carolina will be accompanying me on all six community visits this month, where she will be taking photographs of the Andean landscape, Q'ente's partner communities, the weavers, the textiles, and Q’ente hard at work in the communities. I will be sure to share these photographs with Q'ente's blogging community!
The following are some beautiful pictures that Carolina took on our last visit to Amaru!
The second exciting project I would like to mention is the continuation of the Kallpa K’oj program. Kallpa K’oj, when translated, literally means ‘giving back energy’. It is a Mosqoy program that connects the Andean Youth Program’s (AYP) students with Q’ente’s weaving communities so that the students can help with development projects and maintain their connection to Quechua culture. Basically, the weaving communities identify community projects or workshops they are in need of and AYP students use the knowledge that they have gained through their studies to host projects or workshops in Q'ente's weaving communities. Examples of past Kallpa K’oj projects include: building a weaving centre in Bombón, health and family planning workshops in the Mapacho River Valley, a tourism workshop in Pitukiska, and cooking workshops in Cancha Cancha and Huaran. Juan Clavijo is the new Kallpa K’oj coordinator, and this month he is accompanying me on 5 community visits to talk about the Kallpa K’oj program with the weavers and start planning new projects and workshops to carry out in each of the weaving communities, according to their needs and desires. Last week in the communities of Huaran and Amaru the weavers said they were interested in a tourism workshop (Huaran) and a gastronomy workshop (Amaru). Kallpa K'oj and Q'ente are excited to collaborate to bring valuable workshops to all six partner communities this year!