Day 72

Dia Internacional de la Mujer!

The Foundation hosted an amazing event on Friday for all of the weavers, in conjunction with International Women’s Day. They invited all of the weavers to come to the Foundation for a breakfast and to converse and spend time with each other, celebrating the accomplishments they’ve made this past year. It was funded by the Chilean government, and a representative (along with some members of the Foundation’s board) was present.

This event has been the main focus for the past few weeks. For me, I helped design the invitations that were sent to each of the artisans:

The front of the invitation for the event.

I also created some signage and banners to decorate the walkway to the room where the breakfast would take place. Nick provided some physical support by expertly hanging the banners. It was no easy feat! But they looked really great as the artisans entered and recognized those who were on the banners.

Side note: Everything for the event took place in the building that Nick and the Brazilian volunteers improved and brought back into use, so that was amazing! I don’t know how they would have hosted the event without those rooms being prepared.

The day started with the artisans arriving and walking along the corridor to the room. There were some handmade goods, like a manta cacique and ceramic art, that were on display at the end of the corridor. They entered the room where the breakfast took place and enjoyed some coffee, eggs, sopaipillas, and kuchen. Delicioso!

Nick spent about two days trying to figure out how to hang these banners. This was a little test for him because Susana and Yasmin had a vision that he knew would not work with how windy it is at the Foundation. However, he successfully got them all hung up and it looked very professional!

Full disclosure: they lasted about one hour before the wind ripped them all down, but that was long enough for all the artisans to walk down the corridor and see them!

After they visited with each other, Susana welcomed everyone, along with the board members and representative from the government, for participating in the breakfast. After that, she presented the videos that I have created (8 total) of the artisans.

It was nerve-wracking at first, but after a while, it was really fun to watch all of the artisans’ reactions to the videos. Some were shy, some teased each other, and many smiled and agreed with the sentiments explained in the videos of how they all felt about being a Mapuche artisan.

Something that was also really great was that SeΓ±ora Rosa, the oldest living artisan and one of the first to work with the Foundation, was present and was able to watch her video.

All of the artisans that participated in the videos were given recognition certificates. Rosa and Marcelina (the mother of two of the artisans that has since passed away) were given special awards for their trajectory.

After the awards were given out, Susana thanked everyone again for participating and supporting the Foundation, and gave every women that was there a sunflower (including me!) which I thought was a really sweet gesture. There were some other women outside of the artisans that were present, such as board members and Rakizuam artists.

Everyone visited a little bit longer after Susana had given out all the flowers. We wondered how often the artisans get to see each other, since we know first-hand they are not close to each other and it takes some effort to travel in the countryside. We enjoyed watching them visit and laugh with each other – it was a really special day.

After we started to sense that people were heading to the bus, we asked Susana if she wanted a picture of everyone together. Who knew how often these women got together? A picture would be a perfect way to capture the day. So we gathered all the women weavers first, then encouraged Susana, Yasmin, and Viviana to jump in, then we got a picture with the entire group that was present.

As we were gathering all the women artisans together, Nick turned to me and said, “You know what’s crazy? We’ve been to every artisan’s home that is standing up there.” And it was crazy. Before we arrived to Chol Chol, I thought it would be amazing if we got to meet even one artisan. We’ve met 15. And not only met them, but visited their homes!

Friday was a very special day for us. On the surface, it may have seemed like a small-scale event, but it was important. It was important for the weavers to be recognized for everything they do, to provide an outlet to truly celebrate themselves and not have to worry about the household chores, and to empower them to know that the work they are doing is vital to preserving the Mapuche culture.

And we were lucky to be a part of it.

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