You can’t really understand MAKI International unless you understand the storied city of Ayacucho, Peru. Nestled at 9000 feet in the Andes, Ayacucho used to be a popular stop for travelers on the route from Peru’s capital city, Lima to the historical capital of Cuzco. It was a small but thriving city that benefited from the patronage of foreigners and Peruvian tourists alike. Everything changed in the 1980s when a rebel guerilla group called The Shining Path took root in Ayacucho. As a result of the fighting that ensued between The Shining Path and the Peruvian military, roughly 70,000 civilians lost their lives. Those with money or resources fled from Ayacucho to save their families and themselves. By the time the killing stopped in 2000, only the impoverished remained and the city had been thoroughly cut off from the rest of Peru and the rest of the world. A generation of people - and, in particular, a generation of women - came of age in a time of terror with almost no access to education or any form of basic government services. That perilous reality stunts Ayacucho to this day. Many people in the region have remained subsistence farmers cultivating barely enough to survive or have turned to the drug trade out of desperation to feed their families.
MAKI, which means ‘hands’ in the ancient Quechua language, is more than the name of our organization, it embodies our philosophy. We work hand in hand. That means our team consists primarily of people from Ayacucho - touching our community members directly. We believe in depth of impact first, scale second. We know their personal stories and their needs, and we can achieve much deeper impact as a result. We achieve scale by instilling a sense of commitment to service among our community members who impart their knowledge to others. Hands linked to hands linked to hands.
Our goal is to provide women the tools and sense of empowerment to improve their own lives with their own hands - quite literally.
Our local Peruvian team works on the ground with our communities to provide them basic education, skills training apprenticeship, education, and psychological support. self-esteem building and income generation opportunities.
Yanamilla Prison Community: . Yanamilla prison incarcerates 200 women, most of them are victims of the reality they found themselves in: no money, no choices and drug cartels approaching them with the promise of cash in their pocket and food for their children. When these women are caught working as drug mules, they often are charged as full-fledged cartel members and can end up spending decades of their life in prison for a first offense. MAKI has built and staffed a classroom for these women where they can learn work skills, team building, self-esteem and attend lectures on relevant issues. We have also provided a classroom, learning supplies, books and toys for the children who reside in the prison with their mothers.
Vinchos: In the mountains above Ayacucho, this impoverished community relies on subsistence farming. Their daily meals are corn and potatoes. MAKI has launched a chicken farming initiative that teaches women how to raise and care for chickens and provides them with eggs for eating and selling.
Carmen Alto Women’s Cooperative: At-risk mothers gather weekly for MAKI sponsored events, activities and projects. Maki provides yarn and designs to many of these women and sells their products on our website. MAKI support has enabled the Carmen Alto women to form their own ‘Association’ which is recognized by the Peruvian government and has provided them with various work opportunities and grants
Hilos y Colores: This Peruvian enterprise founded by Faustino and Mercedes Flores, a local entrepreneurs from the mountains above Ayacucho, provides work for 500 women who are primarily subsistence farmers in the mountains. For the last decade, Maki has provide advice and support to the group regarding production and marketing and as helped secured contact with multinational brands throughout the world. Maki also provides lectures from professionals in the community to educate the group leaders among the women.
Wiriclla: In this small community at 15,000 feet, the families who live here are without running water or electricity. This is our most recent project. We have provide solar lamps to each family, distributed 100 jackets to the children and older adults of the community, and we are working with community leaders to help them develop sustainable, useful programs to mitigate their poverty.
Today, Maki International is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and works with impoverished women throughout Ayacucho, Peru.