January 19, 2012
The approach to development and social change in the United States has often times been ineffective and harmful to many of its recipients. Having worked in a non-profit for two years in California, I was frequently told to withhold from becoming close to the people we serve. Meaning, building strong connections with the communities we serve is not our priority.
Team Peru has pushed me to challenge that approach. Before you can make a positive impact, people need to trust you. This is one of the first things we learned from our leaders at Andean Alliance. Our team’s time in Choquecancha, working with the women’s weaving group, has allowed me to put this strategy into practice.
Out of the same coconut bowl we have sipped Chicha together, we have prepared meals together, and have even watched soap operas together. Us gringas exhausted the few words of Quechua we knew, saying them randomly, yet the women laughed incessantly every time. Yesterday we laughed, kissed and said our goodbyes one last time. The women asked us to not forget about them and to please come back soon, which is something that many of us will be doing in June.
We come from very different cultures and yet have managed to care and trust each other. Unlike my past experience, this time we made it our top priority to connect with the women before anything else. Plans to sell the women’s products are well underway and picking up speed. The women continue to improve the quality of there textiles and are hopeful that with the help of the savings plan they can create a Casa de Tejedoras, a place they can call there own. ~Jenny Agis