According to dictionary.com, the first definition is “a body of persons entrusted with a mission to a sovereign or government.”
As we use the term, our meaning is a little different. We see our embassy as “a body of persons entrusted with a mission to each other and their community.
We recently opened our first Wakami Embassy, and its mission is to create a space to connect with each other and the community.
Let me give you a little background…
My story with communities goes way back. As I have shared before, I am a biologist. I love the Earth, I want its rivers to be clean, its oceans to be intact, the land to be full of forests and jungle, and native plants and animals to be everywhere.
30 years ago, as I was graduating with my Masters degree in Agriculture, my journey took me deep into the ecosystems I cared so much about, and even while I loved the lushness and vitality of many of the places I visited, I also saw ecosystems stripped of all of lushness, all vitality – suffering.
It was in those harshest of places that I found inspiration. I was able to meet the people living there. I was invited into the heart of these rural homes and villages. I witnessed, firsthand, the hardship, and, most importantly, I was able to see their dreams.
You see, there was one clear voice – no matter which village – saying, “We need a source of income. If you can sell what we produce, the rest we can do.”
So at the beginning of my journey, all I could think of was to how I could help to create opportunities for the people in these villages. I became focused on creating a system that would change their lives – a system that would not allow children to die because their families did not have the $10 that would have saved them.
Their dreams, and that inspiration, are what created the Wakami System that we know today. Through the Wakami System, we were able to link local artisans to a constant market and bring the training necessary for them to be part of the value chain.
Where there had been war, famine, and poverty, something new started happening. We were fascinated by what we saw.
We saw income flowing into these rural homes, especially into the hands of women. And we saw how this meant healthier children, girls attending school, empowered women participating in change . . . dreams becoming real, peoples eyes shining . . .
Through a Rotary connection, we were asked if people from the US could visit these communities and work side by side with tem, to build key infrastructure that would bring new opportunities. As I write this, it’s been 5 years of these trips . . . and what I saw and our team saw was priceless.
Our travelers saw how people from the villages and people visiting had similar dreams, We saw how, when we shared our vulnerabilities, we all connected. We saw how, as we got to know each other better, barriers dropped and our common humanity emerged. After 5 days of working together, there was no they and us . . . it was only us. Laughter, tears, shared meals, hugs, goodbyes . . . we were all people in one home, our planet.
Each time a group of travelers visits, we see transformation in the Wakami team, the travelers, the communities, and me too. If I had to point to one thing that happens during these trips, it is that hope reaches new dimensions, and gratefulness becomes an everyday feeling.
An Embassy is Born
These trips made us want to create a place where people can have this experience, if only for a while. Can come and meet other people from the world, from the villages and share their dreams, their talents, their vulnerability, and by connecting to each other, realize the power of the individual and the collective to transform reality.
We found a beautiful place in Antigua, Guatemala, a World Heritage site, to be able to do this. And when we were thinking of a name, we thought it would be called The Wakami Embassy, a place for citizens of the world to get inspired, to connect and to rethink development, to rethink sustainability, to rethink our way of life, one in which both the people and the land can be in harmony. We wanted this place, this Embassy to be a gateway into this emerging world, the one we create when we work together.
In the Wakami Embassy there are workshops where people from the villages share their experiences with travelers from other parts of the world. It’s the hub for different trainings so communities can access different value chains that require different skills, It’s the place to be a part of a circle of light, or a finding your purpose workshop. It is a place to buy products that carry the energy of hope. It’s a place to just be.
Welcome to this home away from home! Bring your dream with you! And enter…