"In La Calera, I was able to better understand the important role that these artisans and their products play in making Ecuadorian culture so distinct. I learned that while weaving, embroidery and jewelry making are incredibly important to the Ecuadorian culture, they are even more important to the individuals who make the products because they are their means of income. This contrasted with my initial perceptions towards these types of crafts because I have more often encountered individuals who practice these arts as a hobby rather than a career. In opposition, “el tejido” is not just a hobby for Rafael; it is his and his family’s livelihood. In addition, the unique blankets, tapestries, jewelry and artwork that make the markets so exciting for tourists like me are incredibly important aspects of culture that indigenous Ecuadorians are trying to preserve. This combination of economic means and cultural distinction compounds the importance of the work that we are doing in La Calera. By helping to improve and further develop the micro-enterprises of these groups of women, we are also helping them improve their abilities to live sustainability and healthfully. We are also helping them to continue to preserve the cultural customs and art that make their indigenous communities so unique."
Author: Helena Wolf, Senior in Community & Nonprofit Leadership with a Certificate in Global Health