Chakipi Peru – Arielle Dulberg, Fellow

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It was while Arielle Dulberg was completing a Master’s in Public Administration at New York University and interning in President Clinton’s office when she heard about the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. She was immediately drawn to women’s empowerment through social enterprise. Nearly a year into her fellowship with Chakipi Peru (“Chakipi”), Arielle shares her experiences and reflections.

“Spending time with Chakipi entrepreneurs in the field has been the most rewarding aspect of my fellowship to date.  First of all, for the random adventure that is guaranteed on each trip [to the field]. From having to explain why the guinea pig on my plate is bringing back childhood memories of my first love, Moe (the guinea pig) to being gifted Moe’s distant cousin to take to Florida in honor of my sister’s birthday. ‘Just throw it in the microwave and reheat when you get there,’ said señora Friney, a Chakipi entrepreneur. From riding a bike without brakes through the mountains, determined to sell hand soap, to five-minute mutual exchanges of ‘hola mamita’ since I can’t speak Quechua but still want to have a conversation. All this coming from a girl who didn’t own a pair of hiking boots before August.”

  What is most memorable, though, are the connections that I’ve made with women in the Andean region of Peru –who before this experience, I had only seen in pictures. These women are now members of my extended family. Women with whom I thought I didn’t have much in common with, who have opened their hearts, their homes, shared their families and their experiences with me. The women who don’t take breaks and don’t back down, because they have kids to feed which gives them no other option than to persevere. Sometimes they cry, but they don’t complain, and no matter what, they take action. The ‘ladies of Chakipi’ do it all with the spirit and intention of creating something grander for their children. They are women who quite literally carry heavy loads on their backs every day in addition to the burden of raising a family, too, often single handedly. 

 These women have shown me true resilience; how to be brave but still light hearted; how to be serious while acknowledging that there is always tomorrow; how to be independent notwithstanding fear; how the experience of sharing with someone is more valuable than attachments to a material thing, even if it’s the last one you have. They’ve filled my soul with faces, memories, laughter, and tears, and have taught me a fierceness that I will always strive to mimic.”