Photographers Fabiola Cedillo , Alessandro Bo and Fernanda García @ DINA Photography Group are the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributors of this documentary photography. From the project ‘BARTER | Alternative for subsistence in pandemic’. To see Alessandro’s body of work, click on any image.
This work was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Emergency Fund for Journalists.
BARTER | Alternative for subsistence in pandemic
During the current humanitarian crisis, we have witnessed the resurgence of de-monetization practices, as well as the revaluation of basic trades as an alternative to a more dignified and equitable life. This report produced in Cuenca, Ecuador focuses and tells the story of three women: Tatiana, Gemma and Fanny; who affected by the economic crisis, mostly due to the pandemic and inspired by the Andean worldview; found in barter a great solution to sustain their economy. This ancestral practice, typical of indigenous communities, has made its way in several cities as an organic response to the health emergency and the economic crisis.
Gemma Rosas, born in Barcelona, arrived to Ecuador as a representative of the Spanish Red Cross. Writer and illustrator of children’s books and mother of three children, born and raised in the Amazon for over 15 years of her life. After confinement, loses her job and her regular income. During this time, she begins to exchange her books in exchange for various products and services to support her three children.
Gemma has illustrated and written children books that have been published and translated into Spanish and Kichwa. She has exchanged these for a range of products and services in person and through a social currency system called “Jurupi” a project that was born during the pandemic among friends who wanted to support each other by creating a community of exchanges with deferred barter through a social currency. During the pandemic, she explains waking up at six in the morning to fix and clean the whole house, make coffee, meditate, and work on her writings and drawings until the children get up.
Gemma packing the last documents of her business. El Barranco Gallery , that used to sell popular arts and crafts with a fair trade from indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian rainforest. The project took place for four years and finally broke because of the pandemic crisis, forcing her to close. As a result of this, Gemma had to start looking for other ways to support her family.
Gemma spending her last days in her place during their last days prior to moving from Cuenca to a small town called San José in the Ecuadorian coast, not being able to cover the household rent.
Tatiana Rodríguez, Andean agronomist and chef. She has a restaurant called “La Chichería”. As a result of the pandemic, her business went bankrupt, so she begins to look for other alternatives to survive with her family. Trough bartering, she manages to reactivate her business, have a house to live in and generate a network where she constantly exchanges products and services.
Tatiana Rodríguez, Andean agronomist and chef, has been doing research on food for more than 10 years, in this image, she is in the garden of the house where she has lived since the pandemic thanks to a barter she carries out with Lucía Astudillo (owner of the house) who receives food, necessities and medicine from Tatiana.
Claudio Córdova, Lucia’s partner, receives lunch from Tatiana at the door of the building where they live, this is the only space where they meet everyday, since Claudio either has left his home since the pandemic.
Luna Figueróa has known Tatiana since they were teenagers, when the pandemic began she received a call from Tatiana who invited her to move to Cuenca and be part of her team. Luna and her son Matías have lived with Tatiana since the sanitarian crisis began. They receive food and housing in exchange for the work of Luna, who collaborates in the restaurant, conducts field research on agro-ecological products, arranges the garden, takes care of the dogs, among other activities.
Fanny lives on the outskirts of Cuenca on a farm called “Learnaya”. To support her family, she produces organic food that she later exchanges with other products and services. For example, during the pandemic she welcomes three travelers who remain in Cuenca, unable to return to their countries of origin, they, in return work on the farm’s vegetable garden.
Mauro Demenza left his native Argentina in September 2018 to travel throughout Latin America. In March of this year when the borders closed due to the pandemic, Mauro was in Cuenca – Ecuador and through some friends he contacted Fanny, owner of the “Learnaya” farm; she offered him lodging and food in exchange for working in the activities that take place there.
Fanny making the eucalyptus essential oil that she produces with the leaves of the farm’s trees. The design and the labels of the oils will be done by a friend of his with whom he will trade by “barter”
The daughters of Patricia Mendez and Andrés Perez harvest vegetables in the garden of the farm. Andrés gives Domenica, Fanny’s daughter, math classes in exchange for food. This day the family Perez was in the Learnaya farm and forest enjoying the open and safe space since they had been kept in quarantine until then.