Note from editor: Post written by Chi Do, a passionate Jolkona volunteer.
Nested in the foothill of the mountains leading to Machu Picchu is a small town called Ollantaytambo. We visited Awamaki, a non-profit grass roots organization that was revamped in 2009, yet its beginnings are decades old. Their mission is to provide support for highland communities, especially of benefit to the women and children who reside there.
Awamaki’s aesthetically decorated store brings weaving and knitting products to consumers. These materials and pieces come from communities deep in the mountainside, handmade by the local families. It is truly a family business with help from the wife, husband and their children. In this way, Awamaki provides business opportunities that strengthen the whole community.Â Awamaki has recently implemented a mobile clinic program which provides medical assistance in remote areas. This fulfills a great need, as horses are the only mode of transportation for these locations.Â Sustainable tourism is another interesting aspect of Awamaki. It makes perfect sense as Ollantaytambo is a town that relies heavily on tourism. It is a great idea for incorporating social enterprise in their strategies, as well as generating a stable source of funding for Awamakiâ€™s programs.
What stuck out to me the most was the high number of volunteers Awamaki gets every year. Â We met only 5 volunteers during their quieter season, but they can get up to 25 volunteers at peak time. Most are young adults from the United States; high school or college graduates, young professionals who look for a change in their career directions, or just wanting to learn about a different world than their own. We spoke to Amy, a current volunteer. She gave up a job offer right after college to volunteer with Awamaki for 6 months. She desired to pursue a passion of serving the underprivileged. Â There was also Jon and Emily, a couple from Chicago who are spending the next 6 months contributing to the programs at Awamaki in any way they can. As I hear more stories from the volunteers, I feel proud. We are the young generation who think about others, who want to make a difference in this world, and who do something to keep that passion going.
Awamaki became a partner of Jolkona in late 2011. As I see it, this partnership has the potential to provide additional opportunities for volunteer exchange or connection with sustainable tourism.
Check out their work here and provide any support as you see fit.
Participate in our Jolkona campaign for Awamaki.