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July 25, 2013



ELIZA SQUIBB : Shipibo Textiles: Creating economic viability and cultural visibility through craft.

July 18. After a breakfast of fried plantains, scrambled eggs and star fruit juice from the garden, I went with Adelina to a meeting in the cultural center in Pucallpa. There was a small exposition of paintings by Pucallpa natives, but the main event was a three hour lecture about exportation, complete with multiple powerpoint presentations to motivate inhabitants of the Ucayali region to start businesses. The audience of both men and women, including some Shipiba women in traditional dress were introduced to the “Plan Estratégica Nacional del Exportacion” PENX for short. The “X” was a good call on the part of the administration, or else the acronym would have signified something much less appropriate. There were some giggles when the audience noticed this letter choice, but the presenter bravely soldiered on.


While the talk about global market economies might have been important to give everyone a broader vision, the audience was very engaged and many people loudly requested sessiones de capacitacion, or actual business training sessions, pointing out that if this education wasn’t provided, they couldn’t afford to hire specialists. It seemed that people were more interested in learning the nitty gritty of how to run their own businesses rather than hearing about how hard it is to learn Chinese. Everyone went home with some nicely designed brochures, pretty posters about the Ucayali region’s exportation potential, a soda, and a chicken empanada.

In the case of Adelina, she has had some help with key aspects that helped her become the business woman that she is today, including a german volunteer who set up her website in multiple languages. But how do other artisans and business owners get this help? The most positive sign is how loudly people called for what they felt they needed most, hopefully the cultural center will take the hint and deliver more useful information with the chicken empanada next time.

Adelina’s cooperative: Ronin Kate:

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