ArtAndes Blog

They wove their way out of poverty

Posted January 3, 2011 @ 8:21am | by Melanie


I recently watched a very interesting documentary ' The End of Poverty' which explores the history of poverty in developing countries. The team of economists contend that the inequities arose as a result of colonization, military conquest and slavery, with wealthier countries seizing the resources of the poor.

 I think of my own small business that has been rooted in an impoverished area since the mid-eighties, and how the history of the weavers I work with is woven into the art that I sell. I have had to work for their trust, the indigenous have every reason NOT to trust  foreigners. The documentary really highlighted how harmful privatization of their natural resources has been. An example; their oil or minerals are extracted and exported in crude form and sold back to them, or free trade on grains means they can't compete with our subsidized grains from the states, farmers no longer can afford to stay on their land and they end up in shanty towns in the large and often inhospitable cities. A move that often becomes an irreversible lifestyle change, a lifestyle of poverty.

I have found a way to use their natural resources 100%, with them being the end producers. The art of weaving has kept the weavers living in their natural environments as much as possible, or for sure out of shanty towns. Migration to the cities does have a pull, and as in the case of Wilber Quispe- education in Lima vs Ayacucho for his children, is superior.

I am always aware of my inherited role as a 'colonizer'. Encouraging open communication, sharing business decisions, salaries and retail pricing have all been important steps in successfully working together as a team. Having Wilber Quispe come to MN every year, has made a big difference in understanding each others roles in  this unique business. Wilber was orphaned at 8 and was a child slave, we had a lot of growing to do! Maximo Laura has brought an incredible amount of professional experience to this business that has been invaluable. 

They have wove their way out of poverty.

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