On our last morning in Arequipa I set off early and raced around the city picking up last minute equipment and materials, delivered a final bead-work session with the team, taught Juan Jose how to use the sewing machine, explained to all the trainees about how the project will provide them with employment and talked Bethsaida ( the project leader ) through how to use the forms I had created for her (invoicing, stock control etc etc etc), all at break-neck speed, before saying hurried and emotional goodbyes. I arrived at our guest house with less than 3 minutes to pack before leaving for the airport – to find that Grace had already done 99% of it in my absence. I’m so proud of how she’s risen to every challenge on this intensive trip, she’s been truly amazing. The whole team have been absolutely brilliant.
Retuning now to the UK I am keenly aware that the most difficult part of the work lies immediately ahead. Starting a social enterprise and giving people skills is one thing, making it a success in the long-term is quite another. What we need most are customers, in Peru and the UK, if we are to pay the people making the crafts a good wage so that they can support themselves and their families with dignity and pride. There’s still masses of work to do on marketing, further designs, financial management, fundraising to cover initial set up costs and equipment etc... the list is daunting, but not insurmountable. Thanks to the wonders of Skype I shall be able to support Bethsaida, her team and the new fledgling project every week over the next few months and years as it develops and grows. We also plan to send out a long-term volunteer, a design graduate, to work alongside Bethsaida for 12-18 months, hopefully from September if we can find the right person soon enough. That’s the job at the top of my long list as soon as I get home. Those of you who do, please pray we find the right person swiftly. We so want Juan, Maribel and their friends to be truly, transformatively blessed by this new project, but we can’t do it without the help of lots of people all doing their small bit to help. If you’d like to, you could donate towards equipment and materials, host a jewellery party or just buy some of the new Peruvian products. Together we can make this a massive blessing for all the 35+ people we trained, and many more disabled people to come.