After putting up my last post that included Nina Palomino, the young woman in Peru, I realized something: I have some video of her working at her loom, which you can see here.
Palomino told me she spends several hours a day weaving fabric, which she uses to make garments and handbags. She said she also works with her husband Juan Carlos on other handicrafts like jewelry and small painted gourds. These products are designed for tourists, and they sell well: Juan Carlos told us that some dealers had visited the day before and purchased almost their entire stock. The Palominos got some training with Oxfam America’s local partner SEPAR, and then entered a contest for entrepreneurs. SEPAR judged their business plan one of the best, and awarded them a grant: battery operated sanders and drills they are now using to speed up their production.
Oxfam and SEPAR are trying to help the indigenous Ashaninka people like the Palominos in the Central Jungle connect with the larger regional economy, so they can earn cash and build a little wealth. One of the emerging opportunities in the area is tourism, so the Ashaninka are looking at how they can take advantage of it without sacrificing their culture and way of life. Selling their handicrafts is one of the ways the Ashaninka can proudly share their heritage, and over the course of several days I visited communities where people were excited about learning new ways to interact with visitors, promote their culture, and build a better future.
So, here’s Nina Palomino weaving traditional Ashaninka cloth.