In 2018, PAZA attained the goal that all development projects aim for, and that is to turn the project over to the beneficiaries. After 12 years, Dorinda´s move in late April to the U.S. left Doña Maxima with the reins firmly in hand. She managed 3 weaving orders, settled the Club de Artesanas into a new workshop space, managed the quarterly budgets for Club activities (with a 3rd grade education), increased the Club by 2 weavers, and ran Spinzillita Spinning Week. Blog postings have been erratic because she also had to figure out social media to send photos and tales to Dorinda. Towards the end of December, she
mastered Skype, and the calls were heartwarming and hilarious usually with a backdrop of family,Club members, or Huancarani weavers.
In mid- December, the weavers of Huancarani took a break from spring farming activities to attend the annual meeting of the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). The gathering also includes a feast prepared in an outdoor wood burning adobe oven and the awarding of the Spinzillita prize due all participants of October´s local Spinning Week. PAZA funds were used to purchase 25 reusable mesh shopping bags as prizes for this year´s registered participants. The team grew as unregistered spinners joined in during Spinning Week. Doña Maxima, team captain, worked with her team to figure out how to award the additional participants. The registered spinners chipped in to buy extra prizes so all who participated would be recognized for their skill.
Although rarely seen in the hands of city dwellers, a rural woman´s ensemble would seem to be missing something without a mesh bag in hand. The bags have largely replaced the hand woven incuñas (squares) formerly used to wrap cargo for carrying in aguayos. Aguayos, the Andean backpack consisting of 1 piece of cloth if machine woven, and 2 pieces of cloth if handwoven, are still very much in use. The incuñas were organic, the mesh bags are plastic, but reusable, and alas, vendors’ use of disposable plastic bags is increasing.
During the CAH annual meeting, the weavers voted to not raise weaving prices for 2019. A PAZA weaving order was sent in October, but lacked transportation to the U.S. until a former Peace Corps volunteer and her Bolivian husband made space in their luggage among what they had to stow for themselves and their 2 young sons. Thank you Claire and Beto for going above and beyond!
The newly arrived fajas ($38) and zippered bags ($16/$17) are available for sale. There are also a lot of yoga mat straps ($22/$23), which are no longer in production. Send inquiries to email@example.com.
In November, Laverne Waddington, placed her annual order of fajas (bands) which she uses in her weaving workshops. We’re still waiting for her annual quality report which is accompanied by photos if there are errors. Laverne’s weaving students purchase the majority of the PAZA orders and as weavers themselves their 2018 feedback in photos helped Doña Maxima with the quality control. She has difficulty rejecting a weaving and denying payment to an elder. Prior to April, she’d ask Dorinda to convey the bad news.
Another PAZA order was sent in January to ensure the weavers could count on a payment in February when the panic of scraping up cash to purchase school supplies and uniforms peaks. Dorinda is planning a trip to Independencia in April to pick up that order, make sure the dye pots are bubbling, gather tales, and help Doña Maxima, the Club de Artesanas, and the Huancarani weavers make adjustments to continue to progress. Regardless of the future of the TNNA Spinzilla event, the weavers love love love Spinning Week, so that may morph into a local event. How that will evolve is a discussion to be had with the weavers of Huancarani who make up the majority of
the team. The spinners of the community of Sanipaya were miffed when the budget was cut to include them in 2018.
Are we still on in this together? The weavers and Club members are carrying on, Dorinda continues to commit time and travel expenses, but you need to decide as to whether or not you will continue to financially support PAZA. Last year’s expenses totaled $4,092. The 15 donations received totaled $1,221. There is just $1,344 remaining in the general operating fund. The quarterly activity fund of $820 was wired to Doña Maxima this month. Her salary was increased $3 to $21.60/day to reflect her increased responsibilities as the Club de Artesanas trainer and PAZA.
The PAZA fundraising pleas were few and far between last year due to the unknown of Doña Maxima and the weavers’ commitment to moving forward. During the April trip, discussions about the future will stem from PAZA´s financial health. That´s up to you! I encourage you to click on the “Donate” button above and continue to support this grass roots effort of Andean weavers striving to preserve their textile heritage while at the same time empowering themselves. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, January 18, 2019