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Interview with the President of the Urpis Association of Antaquillka
Learn more about Urpis de Antaquillka, the women’s association of the Andean community of Cuper Bajo.
Hello, dear reader! If you are here, probably is because you may have read our short introduction about the social sustainability project to which we have been contributing: Urpis de Antaquillka
We know that you would like to know a little more and, since we are a company that always seeks to be transparent in its sustainability projects, what better way to find out through an interview we did with the person who leads the association: Mrs. Roxana Paucar.
We are sure you will not regret reading this beautiful story of overcoming.
Let’s get started!
Name: Roxana Paucar Quispe.
Position: President of the Urpis de Antaquillka Association.
Good morning, Mrs. Roxana. Please tell me a little more about Urpis de Antaquillka. How was this association born?
Urpis de Antaquillka was born in March 2019, when the women of the community of Cuper Bajo, with the help of Mrs. Roxana, organized themselves to work as a community and be able to move their families forward, thanks to the idea of foreign visitors who saw the potential they had. “Life in the community before that was very sad, as we only lived on what we were paid for our animals. We had no way to sell our products, our handicrafts. We could only sell to artisans from other cities who took advantage of our lack of knowledge. So the Guaman Poma de Ayala Center helped us with training and we were able to organize ourselves. However, the pandemic affected us a lot and with their help we want to recover.”
Tell me a little about the people who make up the association. As I understand, you are a group of women, right?
Yes, we are 23 mothers from the Cuper Bajo sector. The men here are involved in agriculture.
How has being part of this activity changed your life, and do you think it has helped you in any way?
Our life has changed a lot. We are all mothers and we want to get ahead. This gives us the hope of being able to raise our families and help our children study so that they can be somebody in life. It has given us the empowerment we didn’t have. Now we support our husbands, we fight for a living with our handicrafts and the other services we offer to visitors.
Could you tell us how the lives of some of these women have changed thanks to the help of the association?
I will tell you my story, because that is how the association was born. In my case, we worked making, for example, girdles. It was difficult to sell it, since we do not have access to technology and our native language is Quechua, so we do not speak Spanish well. Seeing this, artisans from other cities took advantage and paid us less than a third of what it cost in other more touristy places.
It was because of this injustice towards the Andean people that I decided to work on my own and help my community. I looked for help everywhere, we trained ourselves, I taught my companions to improve their technique in the creation of textiles, natural color shading, preparation of typical homemade food. We have gone from only being able to receive visitors with our animals to having a community with quaint little houses and arranged to give the best welcome to passengers and to be able to offer them quality products that also supports us.
Do you consider that your community economic situation has improved?
A little, when passengers come it helps all of us in the community.
As we know, Peru is a centralized country and it is not so common to see support for communities far from the cities. Cuper Bajo is 1 hour away from Cusco. Do you think this has been a challenge for you?
Yes, the only help we had was from our families who supported us, we did not receive any additional help until now. We have had to walk a lot looking for help. We are very grateful to Guaman Poma, the center that trained us.
Has this situation changed, in what way? Do you receive support from any government entity?
So far we have not received any help from government agencies, but we mothers continue to meet every Wednesday to continue working and sending our handicrafts to an association in Chincheros in order to survive.
The covid 19 pandemic affected us all in different ways, how did it affect you and your community?
Our situation was very sad, we could not go out and that made it impossible for us to do our jobs. Both we and our husbands were unable to generate income and we only obtained what we could from our animals.
How do you feel about showing a bit of your community’s culture to visitors?
Whenever visitors come, we take them on a tour around the lagoon or to see the ruins. It is here, around the lagoon, that the grandparents of the community perform the Andean wedding with typical costumes of the area.
How do you feel when a passenger leaves happy?
The fact that a passenger leaves happy fills us with joy and makes us feel that we are doing well, that the tranquility and affection with which we treat them makes them feel well cared for and that they want to come back. It gives us strength to continue.
How do you feel about being part of this association?
I am happy to have organized the association. It makes me happy to have companions and to be able to support them by teaching them new weaving and handicraft techniques so that we can all fight together to send our children to school.
What do you think sets you apart from other communities where visitors might go?
The most important thing is the affection with which we treat them. The experience is a differentiating factor: the Piuray lagoon is impressive, the walk with wonderful views, the walk with our llamas and the archaeological ruins. Also, the quality of the material with which we make our products is very good and we are always improving our technique.
How do you think Peruvian Sunrise will help your project?
It will help us a lot if they visit us, this will brighten up our homes, it will help each family to cover household expenses. It will also allow us to show our culture to the world, so that they can appreciate the products we have.
In your words, what is your vision for the association or how do you envision the association in the future?
We would like to make the association bigger. Recently 2 moms have joined us, they want to learn and improve to provide other services, other jobs.
We hope that in the future our association will help our community to continue training and improve the talent that our women have. With this we will be able to be someone in life, we will get ahead and we will be able to help our children. I am sure that we will put all our strength and love in this project.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this interview. This is a social sustainability project that touched our hearts and that we want to help. We believe that a journey where we can enjoy ourselves while helping the community is much more rewarding.
If you have any doubts, questions or need more information about how you can help while visiting Peru, contact us!
And If you liked the interview, you are very welcome to share it on your social media.