NGO Spotlight: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas

While we are always excited to bring you incredible products, it’s the organizations and communities that produce them that inspire us everyday. This week we were lucky enough to sit down with one such organization that works tirelessly to uplift the indigenous communities that have been practicing artisanal crafts for generations.

Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas (CBC) is an organization that was founded 40 years ago with the mission of organizing and providing support to the surrounding communities of Cusco, Apurímac and the Southern Andes. Not only to preserve and pass forward their traditional practice of weaving and staining garments, a skill that has been practiced since the Incan empire ruled the sacred valley.

What’s even more incredible is the way CBC is approaching their mission. Rather than letting tourists dictate design aesthetic (they do have input), CBC collects and follows design heritage from the women producing these garments, bags and purses.  When you step into their Casa Campesina (The Peasant House), one will find a vast array of handmade, naturally stained bags, purses and garments that are all made from a specific community and represent their cultural heritage.

Furthermore CBC provides a vast array of support functions for these incredible artists. These artists (mostly women) are given assistance in traveling from their rural and largely inaccessible communities to the Andean center of Cusco, Peru.  While here they’re invited to stay at the CBC Casa Campesina compound for a nominal cost (family is invited too – what’s a field trip without fam, right?). Additionally CBC frequently travels out into these rural communities to build responsible infrastructure for conflict resolution and community development to help these communities lift themselves up. The term bootstrap comes to mind, if the bootstrap was weaved and dyed from scratch.

One of the most refreshingly new aspects we encountered was the transparency this NGO strived for. Every product present in the store has a breakdown of the cost associated with producing each handmade product. Cost of production, cost of hosting the resident family and proceeds going back to artisan are clearly labeled on every product. Traveler’s know exactly where each Nuevo Sole (Peru’s national currency) is going.

In addition to stellar, handmade products CBC has been developing and promoting responsible tourism programs. Immersion, exchanges and adventure trekking are all offerings in CBC’s portfolio. At the heart of each experience is a desire to garner respect from both the traveler, the seeker of new experiences and the communities that open their arms and their homes. Education and experience are at the center of each trip.

We are proud to support CBC in all of it’s endeavors and we are honored to showcase the beautiful products of CBC on Rock+Pillar Trading Co.