New Humanity Movement

Economy and Work

Maria-Moreno

 

A textile worker and the culture of the Calchaguies in Argentina: See how the ideal of fraternity, incarnated in the world of work, can bring about the redemption of a group of women who’ve always been discriminated against, and who gradually recover their identity and their dignity, a recovery which helps their entire native American community.

 

by Margaret Ramirez De Moreno, Santa Maria di Catamarca, Argentina

I was born in Santa Maria, a region at the foot of the Andes, rich in native culture, but extremely poor. I’m a descendent of the original Calchaquies. I am married and the mother of seven children.

I was the first representative of the Aurora School of Santa Maria of Catamarca, which, after 35 years of activity, was recognized by the Argentine Government for the great educational contribution it makes to the study and recovery of the techniques and symbols of the Quechua culture.

It was in that school that I came to know the spirituality of unity, which led me to choose fraternity as the ideal of my life.

In 2003, faced with the spread of unemployment, I decided to set up a spinning mill to supply the school’s weaving workshop. It wasn’t easy to convince the women of my land, who’d always been discriminated against, to take up the work of spinning again, given that to get to the spinning mill they had to cross over rivers and travel many kilometers every day.

We didn’t have what we needed but gradually, each gave whatever they had—a spindle, wool, their own skills in certain traditional arts…. We still had the problem of expensive machinery.

One day I had to make a journey, and I told the driver what was worrying me. He replied straightaway that he knew how to make spinning machines. “Can you do it?” I asked.
“Yes”, he said, “if you pay me whenever you’re able to.”

Just at that time we lost the building where we were working, along with our most experienced worker, who had graduated. These were hard times when we began to wonder  if it wasn’t time to give up.

Then I suggested to my colleagues that we make a “pact”: to work each day seeking the good of the other, always attending to the needs of the other, putting the person who was beside us in the first place. I was asking, basically, that we put into practice in our work environment the evangelical love I’d learned from the Gospel which says: “..the rest…will be given to you in abundance.”

Soon after, we received a donation which made it possible for us to buy a building and equipment. The “Tinku Kamayu”—meaning “united to work”—studio was set up. There were eight of us at the beginning. Now there are eighteen, with a growing output. We feel we’re part of a bigger project, which involves other Calchaqui people.

We have found our identity as a people and with it a cultural development, with the opportunity to work for ourselves and for others, giving value to the riches of our own people and advancing the good of our city.


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