A Note from our Executive Director as she passes the torch

Dear Mosqoy friends and supporters,

I find it hard to believe that I am writing to you 10 years after Mosqoy started. I remember arriving in Peru as a 20-year-old, blissfully naïve and energetic, unaware that my life could be so utterly changed by the students I met here. Many people have asked why I chose to start Mosqoy, and I often respond that it didn’t feel like a choice or a decision – I was simply in the right place at the right time. Though I could not have imagined how challenging this journey would become, I never awake in the morning without purpose or belief in the work that I do.


Because of its unique need in the region, Mosqoy has grown exponentially over the past decade. We began in 2006 by supporting 20 scholarship students and 5 weavers in one community. We now work directly with over 100 weavers in five different communities, and have supported over 70 post-secondary students across the Sacred Valley and the Mapacho River Valley. We receive over 100 applications annually, for only 5-10 incoming spots in our scholarship program. Our graduates have gone on to start their own culturally responsible tourism agencies, to work for the Ollantaytambo municipality, to open their own restaurants, to support their families’ medical needs, and to start their own families. Through both capacity-building workshops and increased pride for their art, our weavers have improved the quality of their textiles immensely over the past decade; each piece is now finely spun with intricate iconography and naturally produced plant dyes. We have also expanded to include a third program – the Global Stewardship Program, which aims to inspire youth in Canada and abroad to be more conscious travelers and consumers when traveling to communities like Ollantaytambo both locally and globally. Through this program, we have brought five of our most promising Quechua graduates to the University of Victoria on a
semester-long cultural exchange, have participated in an international youth indigenous knowledge exchange, have conducted workshops and lectures for over 6000 Canadian youth, and have launched a community-based ecotourism social enterprise, the Mosqoy Field School.

The invisible faces behind this success are the dozens of dedicated volunteers – passionate, critical thinkers who have invested countless hours and years of their lives to this cause, as well as the generous donors who have contributed dozens, hundreds, and thousands of dollars


into this project. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Mosqoy attracts some of the most compassionate individuals I have ever met.

While we value our volunteer base immensely, Mosqoy’s growth (which is in direct response to its need in the region) has expanded beyond its capacity as a volunteer-run organization. One of our largest challenges is burn-out. No matter how compassionate or energetic we try to be, our hearts, health, and hours simply cannot take the demand – and our programs, students, and weavers deserve invested full-time long-term leadership.

We are therefore proud to have been able to hire our first paid staff members four years ago – our Andean Youth Program Manager and our Casa Mosqoy Resident Advisor. Last year, we were able to hire our third full-time staff member, our Textile Community Program Manager.

For our 10th year anniversary, it is finally time for us to hire a full-time paid Executive Director. Other than a generous grant that was given to me from a donor to partially supplement my living expenses over the past two years, I have acted as the volunteer E.D. for the past decade; however, it deserves and demands an investment of full-time passion and energy. I dedicated as much time, wisdom, and spirit to the position as I could over the past decade, and it is now with extreme gratitude (and slight trepidation) that I announce my resignation as Mosqoy’s Executive Director. We are now soliciting our job posting in search for an ideal candidate to lead this beautiful organization into its next promising decade. (You can check out our job posting here: http://www.goodwork.ca/jobs/sustainable-international-development-executive-director-job-in-victoria-bc-non-profit-ngo-35333. The application deadline is July 20.)

To allow us to move to this next level of legacy-building, we are fundraising for the Executive Director salary for the first two years, beginning with a part-time salary & expense/benefits package of $35,000 CAD. (This position will increase to full-time as our funding allows.) We are halfway there, and need to fund the remainder of the efforts by October 15th to make this needed transition a reality. Because our donations are allocated directly to our charitable programs, we must secure this funding separate from our program needs. Beyond the two-year salary, we have set up a five-year plan that includes capacity-building and development of three social enterprises to internally generate revenue to be fully sustainable long-term, with minimal donations and grants. Meanwhile, though, to get us through this monumental transition, we need your support. If you want to contribute to Mosqoy’s legacy fund and its biggest transition to date, please email me at ashli@mosqoy.org and I will be happy to send you more information.

To me, being able to successfully pass the torch and create a legacy that can continue to grow is a key measurable step to demonstrate that our model is sustainable and not dependent on the founder. I am therefore so proud of this feat that we have collectively worked so hard to accomplish. I also feel that, at this stage, I can better contribute to Mosqoy in other capacities once I can confidently pass the torch.

Please do not worry; resigning as Executive Director does not mean I am “leaving Mosqoy.” I will continue as president of Mosqoy’s Board of Directors, as a life-long volunteer, and as a graduate student in Mosqoy’s Research & Advocacy department. In these capacities, I will continue to support Mosqoy through volunteer service, financially, and by being able to give the cause an international platform through which it can be heard.

Peru is my second home, where I will forever find my heart and witness my godchildren grow into beautiful and unique adults. As president of Mosqoy’s Board of Directors, I hope to continue guiding the organization’s long-term strategy and development, along with our other dedicated and insightful board members.


Additionally, I am a PhD candidate at UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, under the supervision of anthropologist Dr. Wade Davis and lawyer Professor Michelle LeBaron. I have recently received a scholarship to work directly with Mosqoy’s textile communities to explore issues relating to collective intellectual property rights, authenticity certification to differentiate authentic textiles from synthetic machine-made knock-offs, and the establishment of a fair-trade network to better educate tourists about where and how they may directly and fairly support Quechua weavers in the region. This is part of my larger doctoral project (which works in both Peru and Nepal) that explores the role of the arts in reclaiming voice for oppressed or marginalized populations, and proposes alternative systemic policies that better protect community voices on an international level. Alongside my PhD, I am using my resignation as an opportunity to invest time and energy to further pursue my career as a writer, artist and photographer, exhibiting and publishing about human rights and environmental issues; my first published book is my next big dream (half finished!) to be released in the next few years.

Thus, I am not saying goodbye. But instead I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you – truly, from the bottom of my heart – for traveling beside me on this journey since I was 20 years old, believing in me as I learned how to navigate this rugged uncharted map. Without you, Mosqoy would not exist today, and because of Mosqoy, my life – and the lives of so many


students, weavers, families, volunteers, and donors in Peru, Canada, and around the world – are forever changed. Thank you for believing in me, for believing in us, and for believing in this improbable DREAM. Our SUEÑO. Our MOSQOY.

May your own mosqoys come true. And may we collectively embark on this second decade with the naïve optimism of a child, but the critical intelligence of our wrinkles. It is with this spirit that I truly do still believe in humanity, in goodness, in dreams.

Thank you.

Ashli

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