Discover Veronica's Solidarity Leave

Veronica is working as a Sales Account Manager at Pomellato in Milan, Italy. She took a Solidarity Leave on August 2016 in order to provide some help to a Peruvian NGO called Awamaki. This is her story:

 

What did you bring to the mission?

First of all, I brought my enthusiasm. I’ve been dreaming about participating in a volunteer program for years, so I like defining my participation in the Kering Solidarity Leave programme as a dream come true.

I had the unique opportunity to share my professional experience to support an amazing NGO in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Awamaki is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers rural Andean women. It offers skills training that connects its women's cooperatives to global market opportunities, and enables them to earn an income to transform their communities. With Awamaki's help, Andean women sell their products to international retailers of ethically-sourced handmade goods.

As an International Sales Expert, I was involved in projects that included: developing the international wholesale strategy and client relationships, with the aim of increasing the sales of their handcrafted products; reviewing sales materials and; renovating the two Fair Trade Stores in Ollantaytambo and improving the shopping experience; assisting with digital marketing; implementing activities aimed at increasing online traffic as well as sales on Awamaki online store.

Living and working in another culture, while donating your time and energy to do a worthwhile cause has great rewards and may enrich your life long after you return home.

 

What did this mission bring to you?

Participating in this mission gave me the chance to learn more about small, local and international non-profit work. Through my daily work and interactions with members of the local community, I gained a better understanding of the culture, of fashion, production, and fine arts from its local and historical root, as well as the issues that affect that part of the world. I also learnt a lot about myself, as I took on the challenge of living and working in a completely new environment.

I think it’s one of those experiences that puts things into perspective in your life, you gain a new awareness of what is truly important and it makes you feel good. The experience is filled with emotion, you live in places where you would never have gone otherwise, and you see the world through other people’s eyes. Finally, you feel useful by sharing your skills, while you learn and grow from everyone around you.

The best memory I have is surely the day spent with the indigenous Quechua community that works with Awamaki. I had the chance to meet lovely and sweet women in the remote mountains of Peru, who showed how they transform alpaca or sheep wool from its raw state into a beautiful, vibrant textile. It was really fascinating to see this ancient art form come to life in its original environment and so interesting to learn about the Pre-Incan weaving tradition and Andean indigenous culture. I loved the fact that the women call each other “compañera”(partner) …it really conveys the idea of community and solidarity. It was a very enriching and special day.

I loved working for a social cause and I’m definitely motivated to continue doing social change activities also in the future. It was an amazing and unique experience, which I’ll never forget.