Co-Directors Madeleine Wagner and Kealey Clemens, External Relations Coordinator Cindy Peréz and me, Event Coordinator, finally landed in Quito, Ecuador after three different flights. My excitement was almost as high as the altitude. Immediately, we were awed by the beautiful, mountainous landscapes. After spending the night in Quito, a taxi brought us to Flora’s house in La Calera.
Flora is the leader of ‘Sumak Muyo.’ The business name, Sumak Muyo, means “good seed” in their indigenous language, Quitchua. The day following our arrival, we were given a tour of the community by Flora and Marisol. The women showed us different community areas including ponds where they raise Tilapia. On special days, the community cooks and enjoys the fish all together. We got a chance to try it, and it was delicious!
Later that day, I met my gracious host for the week, Inez. She is a part of Sumak Muyo, but she also does works in Otavalo and the surrounding community to promote gender equality and to help victims of violence.
A lot of how change is made is through education. Women have become leaders in the communities that relay the importance of education to their children. La Calera is dedicated to preserving their indigenous culture and expanding the education of the community’s youth with the help from the jewelry business profits.
Then, together, we went with to a neighboring city, Otavalo, where the women of Sumak Muyo buy the beads. In Otavalo, we learned, firsthand, why it can sometimes be difficult to find the same colors every time.
Later, we saw how the women of Sumak Muyo pieced the products together and then, they had us give it a shot for ourselves. Collaboratively, we worked on developing new designs for men and women that will hopefully launch within the next year! Throughout the week, we learned the stories of our wonderful partners, friends and collaborators. We got to know them and their children, and shared many interesting conversations and laughs.
Overall, I will forever cherish having the chance to be immersed in the Spanish language and Ecuadorean culture. It was amazing seeing how these incredible women are becoming leaders in their communities through microenterprise and international collaboration.
!Ojala que tenga la oportunidad para regresar! | Hopefully I will have the chance to go back
This was blog was written by Ashley Summers, Event Coordinator.