Volunteers

Stateside News and Volunteer Update

Planning Club Activities to Span My Absence

Planning Club Activities to Span My Absence

The Club de Artesanas is meeting once a week in Independencia with Doña Maxima at the helm. All will be surprised and pleased when I return in 3 weeks with Bozeman friend, Marian Leishman. Marian was raised in rural Montana and can quilt, sew, crochet, knit, and fix anything. The list of projects she can spearhead exceeds the time she can stay, but if she doesn’t sleep and if she quilts, sews, crochets, and knits nonstop producing samples the women will be able to do new projects long into the future without assistance.

Amanda Teaching a Jewelry Making Class, August 2013

Amanda Teaching a Jewelry Making Class, August 2013

Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki, sent us the funds that will allow the need for an industrial sewing machine to become reality. Ruraq Maki organized a fundraiser and thanks to Paxti’s Pizza Hayes Valley who donated 10% of sales for a day we will soon be finishing some of the woven products in house. My hopes are to buy the sewing machine upon my return to Cochabamba so I’ll have Marian’s “fix anything” expertise to help me put it together and get it operating. Amanda will be arriving in Independencia in August which will be her 4th visit. She teaches jewelry making classes and picks up the Ruraq Maki order. Ruraq Maki sells the products from Amanda’s work with the Yanamilla Prison Project in Ayacucho Peru and Independencia at: https://squareup.com/market/ruraq-maki

Katie, Selina, Dorinda, Kelsey, WARP Conference 2013

Katie, Selina, Dorinda, Kelsey, WARP Conference 2013

The big news for May was the annual Weave a Real Peace (WARP) conference in St. Louis. It is a gathering of kindred spirits who talk about the need for the preservation of textile traditions and helping artisans from communities in need. Talk is great but this group TAKES ACTION as a group and individually working with craft revival projects in the U.S. and abroad. Kelsey Wiskirchen, a WARP Board member and a 2011 volunteer in Independencia, organized the event. Katie Simmons has visited Independencia 3 times to do research for her master’s thesis. She sells Independencia weavings through various venues in Cleveland

Katie and Club de Artesana Members, November 2013

Katie and Club de Artesana Members, November 2013

and last year she held a fundraiser to help us get to the Tinkuy Weaving Conference in Cusco. She is on WARP’s Board of Directors and volunteers her time to manage WARP’s social media networking.

Selina Petschek volunteered in Independencia last year and was a Helen Brown Memorial scholarship recipient allowing her to attend the 2013 WARP Conference in Manchester, NH. She is in Argentina wrapping up her junior year of university. She and her mother will be traveling to Independencia in July so she can dance in the Fiesta del Virgen de Carmen with me. Because it will be vacation, the chicas will be knocking down the door when we’re not dancing to get Selina’s help on crochet and knitting projects.

Alli Tolbert and Noemi's Mother, 2011

Alli Tolbert and Noemi’s Mother, 2011

Alli Tolbert, who was a PAZA volunteer in 2011, flew to Ecuador last week as a Peace Corps trainee. Peace Corps training lasts 11 weeks and each newly sworn-in volunteer is posted to a site for 2 years. I’ve had flashbacks to that memorable day I flew to Bolivia in 2006 with my fellow Peace Corps trainees. I’m so proud of Alli for making the commitment. It is a life changing experience and the Peace Corps network is forever.

Alison Wove the Strap and Border of Her Chuspita

Alison Wove the Strap and Border of Her Chuspita

Alison Walsh who was in Independencia working with us through my last few weeks before this trip made good use of the resources in our library. She wrote from Peru to say she felt she was living the books she’d read which were written by weaver Nilda Callañaupa, Director of the Center of Traditional Textiles in Cusco. She also said she was taking a dyeing and weaving class and the teacher was very interested in the weaving techniques used in the chuspita Alison had made in Independencia. The volunteer program plagiarized a Peace Corps objective which is to offer cultural and technical exchange, and it was exciting to read how Alison is taking it onward.

The social consciousness of the volunteers has me riding high with hope for the future. The WARP Conference was inspiring and oh such fun to catch up with so many who make the PAZA activities possible. I am so thankful for the Peace Corps, which led to PAZA and the incredible people it has brought into my life.  Dorinda Dutcher, May 17, 2014

March & April PAZA Activities

This blog posting is the last on the former blog site http://www.pazabolivia.org. My heartfelt thanks to Julie Cleary who set up the blog on her Word press account and introduced me to the world of blogging in 2010. The links in the former blog seem to be broken beyond repair.  I took that as a sign to study up, start anew, and take full responsibility for administrating the blog. There will be pages posted with the years’ highlights between 2010 and this posting.

Alison and the Club Members Shared Many Laughs & Hours Knitting

Alison and the Club Members Shared Many Laughs & Hours Knitting

Late March and early April were great fun thanks to the presence of volunteer Alison Walsh. The Club members were thrilled to spend time with a volunteer who could help them interpret new knitting textures from our library of pattern books and magazines. Thanks to the volunteer program the women were able to buy yarn to start clothing projects during Alison’s visit and for another project to keep them busy during my 2 month visit to the U.S. Alison made samples of knitted hens, chicks, and eggs which all the women copied one afternoon while waiting for the dye pots to boil.

Decisions, Decisions, Picking Out Yarn in the Local Yarn Shop

Decisions, Decisions, Picking Out Yarn in the Local Yarn Shop

Thanks to the volunteer program we were able to plan a group excursion. The women asked if we could visit the sodalita mine, which is a 1-1/2 hour drive from Independencia. The local sodalita is marbled blue and white stone and when polished can be confused with lapis lazuli. Huge blocks of sodalita weighing more than 7 tons were labeled for shipment to China. Polished slabs were headed to the U.S. and Italy. Piles of discarded sodalita lay waiting to be purchased by foreign artisans. There is no craft industry taking advantage of the local semi-precious stone in Bolivia. The mining company is Italian but a Bolivian engineer gave us a short tour of the processing area as he explained the cutting and polishing machines. He ended the tour with an offer to help ourselves to a souvenir in the discarded sodalita pile. All scrambled up, over, and around the rock pile in search of the perfect keepsake.

Selecting a Sodalita Souvenir

Selecting a Sodalita Souvenir

After the tour we found a shady site along a river, perfect for a picnic. The women opened pots filled with still hot boiled potatoes, noodles, rice, and fried eggs. Alison and I added avocados, tomatoes, limes, and drinks. Only 1 teenager deigned to join our outing, but 5 kids ages 10 and under were with us. All had to be called out of the shallow river where they were splashing about to eat. Three of the women marveled at the lush vegetation, they´d never been so far down the road bordering the east side of the municipality. On our return to Independencia we stopped twice to pick masiq´o flowers for the dye pot. With so many harvesting we were able to collect enough of the flowers for all to dye a skein a few days later. We also noted the concentration of suyku in flower, so will harvest along the road in those areas next year.

Huancarani Dye Day

Huancarani Dye Day

On April 4th we loaded up in a contracted truck to go to Huancarani for a dye day. Not all the weavers can find time to collect plants and dye their skeins, and all like having a broad spectrum of dyed skeins when warping their weavings. The dye day was successful with two dye baths produced from the suyku leaves and flowers mixed together and two from cochineal. The leftover cochineal dye bath was divided up and taken home.

Noemi's Father, Dorinda, Noemi

Noemi’s Father, Dorinda, Noemi

On another note I’m happy to report that nursing tech student, Noemi Chavez, is fully funded to meet the expenses of the certification process. The former Peace Corps volunteer who funded Noemi for her last 1-1/2 of schooling generously gifted to meet the certification expenses. Upon receipt of her certification Noemi can begin looking for work. Noemi and her father came to the house to receive the funds. She was traveling to Cochabamba the following day to begin the certification process, StartProjectalong with all the other students from technical institutes in the Departamento (State) who should have graduated in December. Noemi and her father agreed to the requirement that she will be prepared to assist her sister, Reyna, a member of the Club de Artesanas, further her education after graduation at the end of 2015.

Thank you Marianne Jakob, Fritz Wittwer, Lyn Lucas, Shiriin Barakzai, and Dorothy Stern-Thursby for your support. You made it possible to fund the Club de Artesanas during my 2 month absence. It was empowering for Doña Máxima to receive the funds and responsibility for the Club´s once a week meeting. She was left with more tasks than last year, which was the first time the Club continued without my control freak presence.  Dorinda Dutcher, April 15, 2014