Wednesday, July 4th, at midnight, saw the end of Indiegogo campaign, a campaign to raise $1,000 for the Center’s work in the town of Chinchero, offering invaluable funds to finish a much-prolonged project. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of support from family and friends of Scott, Sebastian and I, we not only raised enough money to meet our goal, but surpassed it by $200! On Tuesday morning, we broke the news to the CEO of El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco, Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, that we had been working on this campaign and successfully raised over $1,000 for them.
She was speechless at first, astounded by the generosity of people who hadn’t even visited The Center, or even have a particular interest in textiles. Immediately, Nilda and her right-hand-woman, Sonia, excitedly began to plan. Some of the funds will be going to Chinchero to finish construction, which will now ensure the completion of the store, as it still needs a lot of work (we will be returning in two weeks to finish the ceiling, as we have now painted the walls), however, with all of this extra money, she decided we could do something extra, something truly special.
I am now privileged with the opportunity to plan a festival for all the children of the communities The Center works with. These are rural communities, ranging from 1-9 hours away from the city by car. These children are often from poor families, and can travel up to two hours to go to school each day. They finish school on July 28th after exams, then have a school vacation. This turns out to be the perfect opportunity to host them all here in the city, where Sebastian, I and the other volunteers will take them through the city, visiting various museums (the Inka Museum, the Chocolate Museum – yum!) and other sights. Then, we will all congregate together on top of the beautiful Saqsayhuaman ruins overlooking the city to eat lunch, play soccer, and all get to know each other for the entire afternoon.
I am so incredibly excited about this project, as these children will not only get the chance to visit the city for a fun-filled day, they get to learn about the history of where they live, andget to know other children who actually live very similar lives to themselves – I can only hope many new friendships will be made! The festival/field trip will be on August 4th, and with our money we are able to fund the entire thing, hopefully starting a long-standing tradition.
Furthermore, I also have the chance to provide hats for the children of Accha Alta – the boys and girls I took pictures with as we frolicked along the beautiful Andean landscape one weekend. They love their bright colors and have amazing clothing, however, they have been short of funds to buy the colorful yarn to make the hats they love so dearly. Immediately upon hearing news of the campaign, Nilda described how we could finally buy them hats, and how it will be a complete surprise! I think that we will be returning in two weeks to the town, as it’s a long ride through the mountains, however, it will be completely worth it to show up with the very materials they have been in need of for so long.
Everyone here working at The Center is so grateful, including myself. I learned so much through this campaign over the past month: the depth of friendship, the willingness to learn about another culture, and that it is okay to ask for help. This experience has been unparalleled, and it is such an amazing feeling to know that my message and my goals are being heard by other people, and that these people care about what I am trying to do. I know that it is different being here in Peru, working every day next to the weavers whose livelihoods depend on these beautiful and intricate textiles, compared to a distant United States, where you are so entirely far away from anything like life in Chinchero or Accha Alta. However, I have truly enjoyed articulating to the best of my ability all that I experience here, from the pictures to the descriptions where I can attempt to capture the feelings and background to every moment.
All in all, thank you so much to everyone. Your generosity does not go unnoticed, and I am here to make sure that the funds are put to good use, and that everyone who contributed gets to share in the incredible experience of giving to these communities that we work with.