Our Compañera: Rosa!

By Allegra Bundy, Marketing and Communications Intern

We had the opportunity to have our interview featured in The Little Market blog. Find it on their website here.

Rosa is part of the Mujeres Tejedoras Puente Inca cooperative, based about a 20-minute walk away from the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Although Rosa grew up in a community farther up the valley, her parents sent her to study in Ollantaytambo, the main town in the area. She spent her school years living with other family members locally. This is a typical arrangement for communities in the surrounding valley. The schooling system is regarded as offering a better quality education in town and parents often send their kids to live with friends or extended family during the school year when the finances are available.

Rosa enjoys every part of the knitting process but her favorite, apart from the knitting itself, is the alpaca ceremony. Alpaca ceremonies happen a few times a year, but most commonly in September. The ceremony involves the shearing of an alpaca in order to get wool for knitted products. She also raves about the baby hats with ears that she knits for The Little Market. Those are her absolute favorite to make.

Awamaki is the only client that Rosa works with directly, and the chance at earning a sustainable income has allowed her to become more financially independent. “The work with Awamaki has helped me. It has helped me economically and I have become more independent from my husband. Before I couldn’t do or buy things without him giving me money, but now that I
work with Awamaki, I can. I’m building my own little house. I want to rent it out and get a little more money,” she explains to me with delight.

In this part of the Sacred Valley, a lot of women need to stay home and take care of their children. The men often work as porters on the Inca trail and bring in all the household income, which makes it hard for women to be fully independent, and make their own decisions. Working with organizations like Awamaki and The Little Market allows these women artisans to take control of their own income, while simultaneously being at home and taking care of their children.

When asked what has inspired her the most so far in life, Rosa explains to me that it was “her own necessity.” She needed to knit in order to make money and support herself, she makes it clear it was something that came from within.

A mother of two, a son and daughter, Rosa says her favorite part about being a mother was when her kids were much younger. She explains with a smile, “When they were little, they would listen to me much more. I could say ‘come do this’ or ‘you should do that.’ Now, my son is in Cusco and he doesn’t really listen to me.”

Contrary to her son, her daughter is still living at home. She has a form of cerebral paralysis that is not terribly severe, but still impacts her daily life. She is dedicated to spending time with her daughter and teaching her how to read, write, and much more. She is currently teaching her daughter how to knit. She explains that she hasn’t found a good center for her daughter to learn
these life skills. Last year, her daughter was learning some of these things at school but recently her teacher changed and it was no longer working out. Now she’s learning at home with Rosa acting as her teacher.

Rosa is a caring and passionate artisan. Not only is she teaching her daughter how to knit, but she also acts as a leader in her cooperative teaching specific skills to the other artisans as they are challenged with new patterns. “I want to teach them how to knit the baby hats with the ears. I want them to learn so they can work as well,” Rosa explains. Empowered women, empower
women, that much we know is true.