“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,
but rarely admit the changes it has gone through
to achieve that beauty.”
– Maya Angelou
Dear all, As many of you know, these past couple of years have been tumultuous for Mosqoy. As with any system or organization, we faced some major “tipping points” that forced us to listen, reorganize, and adapt. Many of you were part of this process, and have stuck with us through all of our challenges. Some of you even received our emergency plea for support over a year ago – and it is in part because of your answers and belief in us that I am now able to write this letter in the past tense. “We faced some challenges.” “It was a tumultuous time.” In other words, we got through it. You and I, our team, and our community. We are on the other side. And I wish you could see the breaths of relief and gratitude that I am able to take (even at this altitude!) being able to write these words to you today.
Resilience, to me, is one of the most beautiful traits of any system; it is the ability to adapt to challenges and to grow stronger because of them. It is to thrive, instead of merely survive. The communities that Mosqoy works with are resilient; they face harsh Andean environments day in and day out, they have adapted to the challenging economic climate within only one generation, and they continue to thrive amid inequitable and unpredictable sociopolitical conditions. The students that Mosqoy supports are resilient; they have grown into extraordinary leaders, they have graduated from three levels of education – primary, secondary, and tertiary – despite all odds, and they often moved away from their homes many times before even reaching adulthood. And, now I can truly say, that Mosqoy too is resilient.
Since our “tipping point” a couple of years ago, we have been too silent, and for that, I sincerely apologize. It was because we were in crisis mode, not because we stood still. Quite the opposite: We were working constantly, diligently, to find long-term solutions – to adapt and become a more resilient organization that could respond to the current needs of our partnering communities and the changing economic climate within the region
we work, while also being fiscally viable. We found many easy responses to these dilemmas – quick ways to find big money. However, they would have compromised our values. And despite the seduction of “easy ways out” when we were at wits’ end, we could not rightfully compromise our values nor our integrity while still calling ourselves “Mosqoy.” I am so proud of all of our team members for believing in people and planet before profit, and for standing by our mission. As it states in the introduction of our Three-Year Strategic Plan: “Our key concern … was that we could not undermine our values – or the needs and wishes of our partnering communities – for the sake of Mosqoy’s financial security. Thus, this visioning process was slow and deliberate, and we are more financially precarious because of some of our decisions. However, we are distinctly proud of our choices, integrity, and courage to risk it all in order to continue to believe in what we are doing.” We decided we could not afford an Executive Director at this time, and instead formed an active working (and gradually growing) Board of Directors, while responsibly building an E.D. Fund, to secure a long-term Executive Director by the end of our strategic plan. We began a methodical restructuring process to rebuild the why and the how of Mosqoy. This meant spending the past one and a half years diligently and painfully working through chaos – talking to, traveling to, listening to community members, weavers, program alumni, family members, board members, partnering organizations, staff and volunteers, and experts in our field, to learn how to move forward – keeping the best of what we offer, while overhauling the components that will allow us to thrive. The result of this visioning process is two-fold: a new Mosqoy working model and our next Three-Year Strategic Plan. In essence, we will shift towards a hybrid social enterprise-charity model. (We have always been theoretically motivated by this model, but our financial realities and operations prohibited us from implementing it until now.) Mosqoy will focus its resources primarily on Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles (our fair-trade retail business) and Mosqoy Field School (our responsible tours), with the long-term target that these will collectively pay for 50% of our annual budget. In our Three-Year Strategic Plan, you’ll find this new working model explained in more detail, as well as our objectives and key strategies. In addition, we outline our visions for an exciting, new and improved structure for the Mosqoy Youth Program, which will be rebuilt during this time to better serve our incoming scholarship students. I truly believe that, with our new strategies, we not only will be able to hold ourselves accountable to our mission within Mosqoy, but truly inspire and catalyze resilience across the Sacred Valley region. Without further ado, I present to you Mosqoy 2.0 - and invite you to join us in the next steps of our collective journey towards “global sustainability through local resilience.” With hope and gratitude, Ashli
All photos by Ashli Akins. Top photo: Vicentina walking home over the mountain above Cancha Cancha, after a community meeting with the Illariy Ch'aska Women's Cooperative and Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles. Bottom Left: Mosqoy staff and volunteers hiking from one partnering community to another in the Mapacho River Valley. Bottom Right: Mosqoy staff and volunteers with the Munay Urpi Weaving Association in Huarán.