When you don’t have to go into an office for your job the lines between work and life become very blurry. Even my vacations now always include informal craftsmen/craftsmanship research. Every trip I have taken this year, whether in Egypt or outside I have found local artisans, heard stories about their lives, their crafts and researched their traditions.
I discussed in an earlier post how after working in international development I always feel like I have a “development lens/perspective” in whatever I do. It is the same now with craftsmen and craftsmanship. I am always looking for traditional craftsmen, their tools, ways to integrate the craft into the local economy and I flip everything (to see where it is made).
I haven’t written in a few weeks because I went on vacation to Ecuador. Such an amazing country. Of course my frame of reference is always Egypt, so always comparing it. The common link is the kindness of the people and openness. Other than that it was soooo different. The landscape (one is in the desert, the other has the highest amount of biodiversity in the world) I have included below 3 stats to compare the countries below.
Two things that stood out to me the most in Ecuador were the minimal amount of poverty and the quality and strength of their crafts industry. In Egypt, anywhere you drive you see poverty, in Ecuador even when driving through small towns on the fringe of the country there is some poverty, but minimal. I was also so impressed with the traditional craftsmanship and the quality of crafts around the country. From the smallest vendor to the nicer boutiques the quality is very high. In Otavalo -a town famous for its textiles and surrounded by little towns that each have their unique craft - you can sense the pride in their cultural heritage. I spent a Saturday there, which iswhen they have the largest market. I was with a friend of a friends from Otavalo and she was telling me how wherever she goes, she always wears the traditional clothing. It made me think of the “soft side” of development, for example, when traditional customs (components) are held in high regard and valued.
You cannot measure it quantitatively but it definitely has an economic impact….It made me think of the potential of the craftsmen in Egypt, and the potential of the pride they can have in their beautiful work…
What other aspects do you think cannot be measured quantitatively but have economic impact on countries?
Learn more with these links:
Ecuador’s CAS (Country Assistance Strategy) document the World Bank uses to base its loans and investments from.
Comparing stats: (GNI: Gross National Income)
13.35 million people 75.5 million people
GNI per capita: 3110 GNI per capita 1558
Forest Area: 108 sq kilos Forest Area: 0.7 sq kilos