By Caitlin Lally, Marketing and Communications intern
At 4,666 meters (15,308 ft) amid the mountains of Patacancha, Peru, I greeted Viviana in her native tongue of Quechua.
“Allianchu compañera,” I said as I leaned in for a kiss on the cheek.
After taking a walk with her and listening to her explain the uses of various medicinal herbs, I took a few moments to ask her some personal questions about life in the rural community.
A weaver since she was eight years old, Viviana joined the Songuillay cooperative as a weaver and also is helping to lead sustainable tours. Now, 21-years-old, she is the mother of two-year-old son, Roy.
“When I’m not working — but I always have to work — I enjoy playing with my son,” she said as we passed alpacas basking in the glow of the afternoon sun on the mountainside.
Her favorite color, yellow, stood out on her manta among the lush green landscape and piercing blue sky. She said mantas are her favorite thing to weave because they’re difficult, yet fun.
Viviana grew up in Patacancha and has never travelled far outside of the community. She learned Spanish by attending school, in which she is currently a third-year student. Through Awamaki, she also learns business skills to further support her family and livelihood.
“My dream is to get married and learn English,” Viviana said with a spark in her eyes. Her and her partner of three years, Américo are working hard to earn enough money to tie the knot.