By Salome Noufele
Working for Awamaki has been a rewarding opportunity that allows volunteers like me to serve indigenous communities while gaining experience in various fields, including marketing & sales, tourism, and social media management. With each project a volunteer takes on, whether it’s analyzing the organization’s social impact, assisting the sales team, or posting on social media, we directly support the collectives of female artisans with whom Awamaki partners. Although daily tasks can vary depending on the organization’s needs when volunteers are here, here is what a typical day in my life looks like as an Awamaki volunteer.
The workday starts at 10 am, so I am up by 8:45 am to prepare for the day and eat breakfast. I head to the Awamaki office from my host family’s home at 9:45 am and get straight to work. From 10 am to 12 pm, I work on any projects I’ve been assigned. This can include tasks like editing pictures for Awamaki’s social media accounts and website, creating and updating any handbooks that the team uses, or writing this blog post!
A weeklong homestay was included in my volunteer package and I decided to do the homestay, though some volunteers choose to live in the volunteer house during the entirety of their stay.
At noon, I head back to my host family’s house for an hour-long lunch. Some days, I eat with the other Awamaki volunteers and staff at the office, or we eat somewhere in town. I’m back at the office at 1 pm and keep working on my tasks until the end of the workday at 3 pm. After that, I’m free to do whatever I want!
Awamaki offers a two-week orientation for all volunteers regardless of the length of their stay. Afternoons can consist of a tour of Ollantaytambo and Spanish or Quechua language support, depending on the volunteer’s comfort level with Spanish.
In the evening, I usually opt for a short hike in or around town on days I don’t have Spanish classes, which usually involve a hike. There are dozens of paths in Ollantaytambo’s vicinity that don’t have entrance fees; some of my favorite sites include the Pinkuylluna and Choquana ruins, which offer beautiful panoramic views of the village. The ALQA museum is also a great option for an evening activity. For 40 soles, you can receive a guided tour of the grounds, which feature objects dating back to the Incan Empire and modern art made by people in indigenous Andean communities.
Dinner is served at 7 pm at my homestay, but I am free to have dinner with the other volunteers at the Awamki office or at a restaurant in Ollantaytambo. After a walk around town or a movie, I’m in bed by 11 pm to be well rested for the following day.
Although the aforementioned information breaks down what a typical week at Awamaki looks like, there are a few exceptions. I may be asked to go to the town of Urubamba (a 40-minute combi ride from Ollantaytambo) with the team for the day to assist in a photo shoot or a textile dyeing session. Alternatively, if a tour is scheduled for that week, I am encouraged to accompany the group on their activity, whether it be a cooking class or a local artisan visit. Additionally, Awamaki coordinates an overnight trip to one of the artisan communities in the high Andes mountains above Ollantaytambo for each volunteer.
Volunteers have Fridays off. In turn, every other Saturday or Sunday, we are scheduled for a shift at the Awamaki store, which lasts from 10 am to 3 pm. During store shifts, I’m in charge of cleaning the store, restocking products and attending to customers.
For the rest of the weekend, I don’t have any responsibilities with Awamaki. I’ve used this time to take day trips to Cusco and Machu Picchu and go on longer hikes like the Puente a Puente riverwalk. Given the numerous towns and nearly 200 hiking paths surrounding Ollantaytambo, there is no shortage of things to do on the weekend.
No matter how long you volunteer with Awamaki, you will leave the experience a more well-rounded person with a greater appreciation for cultural diversity. In addition to helping cultivate and maintain a partnership between Awamaki and the artisans, I was encouraged to be creative and think outside the box, allowing me to practice skills like intellectual curiosity and interpersonal communication. If you are looking for the perfect balance between supporting a mission rooted in empowering vulnerable communities and embarking on a journey of self-growth, Awamaki is the perfect place for you.