We’ve had an action-packed summer, so before we move into the next craft-filled academic year, we thought it would be a good time to savour some of most exciting moments of CAI’s Summer 2016:
Guests indulged in a gorgeous, candlelit, three-course meal, enjoyed some fabulous live Jazz, and won some amazing prizes (a holiday in Barbados, a family photography shoot, a luxury facial and all sorts of other goodies). It was an unforgettable night and we raised over £6500 through the event! (You can order your photos of the night here.)
Every time a big cardboard box from Peru is delivered to the Craft Aid office, it feels like Christmas! It's always exciting to see all the new high-quality craft products that our differently-able artisans in Arequipa have been making. These vibrant cushions made from traditional Peruvian fabric are some of our newest arrivals.
They’ve already been very popular at craft fairs and stalls. We’ve even been…
In July, we had the amazing opportunity to have a stall at Plaza Latina, “London’s best Latin American festival” with music, food, dance, art and kids activities. Our craft products may even be appearing in shops in Shoreditch soon, so keep your eyes peeled…
We have so nearly raised the funds we need to buy the building in Arequipa, where we want to establish our craft centre. We have raised a huge amount of money in one year, and particularly over the last few months. We are so grateful to everyone who has given. To find out about our vision to employ more differently-able workers in Peru, watch the video.
This July, we ran a Craftival at Happygate, Harrogate’s new arts & music festival. This event raised money for three local charities, and we were blessed to be one of the benefiting charities! We had three bustling craft areas where visitors could learn how to produce beautiful marbled paper, make some seriously funky pom-poms, or even create their very own mosaic (if you missed the event, fear not! Watch Susie’s mosaic tutorial here.) Our disabled participants created a spectacular mosaic sign for the event, which drew a lot of attention. It was great to be able to show visitors some of the activities that we do at our therapeutic craft sessions and to share about our work with the Harrogate community.
It’s been a busy few months, and we’re excited about what’s ahead. Soon we’ll be waving off some new volunteers, who will be moving to work at our project in Peru, but more about that next time!
It’s wonderful to be back in the Southern Hemisphere! To make me feel even more at home here in Arequipa, this time I’m staying with the wonderful family of Pastor Abel and his wife Betsaida. I’m here to see how our volunteer Ellie Thompson is getting on, and to escort her safely across the border to Bolivia and back so that she can renew her visa. When I left her here 3 months ago she barely had any Spanish, so it makes me *so* happy to see her chattering away with her host family like a native. She’s clearly perfectly at home and is being a huge blessing to the new craft project that Craft Aid is planting here.
On my first full day here I was able to meet with all the young people from the larger Nuevas Fuerzas group that we’re working with. The world would describe this group as having ‘learning disabilities’, yet what they’ve learned in a short period is remarkable. They’re producing beautiful cards from Peruvian fabrics, and beads from recycled cereal boxes (hard to believe I know, but have a look at the finished result in the picture on the bottom left!) They were thrilled to bits to hear that all the cards they’ve sent to the UK so far have completely sold out, and they proudly told me that they’re selling well in Peru too. Christian, one of the group, stood up to make a welcome speech and said how pleased they were to be earning money from their work, which enabled them to buy the things they needed and help their families. It’s still very early days with this project, so it’s wonderful that those involved are already seeing the benefits. I told them that when they produce work that sells, two good things happen:
1) They get paid!
2) The world gets to see how talented and brilliant they are, and that’s just as important. It’s an opportunity for them to shine their light out all over the world, so people are able to see that God’s blessed them with talents and abilities just like everyone else.
The following day I set off early to purchase beads and materials for some new prototypes Ellie and I are working on, before boarding a bus to Puno, near the border with Bolivia. We arrived late at night after a 7 hour journey across arid mountains populated with alpaca’s and cactuses, and very little else. Our hostel in Puno was like an icebox, so we were pleased to be on our way again at dawn the next morning, finally crossing the border into Bolivia just before lunchtime. We’re staying in the village of Copacabana (see top photo), on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest inland lake in the world. At 14,000 feet or so, it’s absolutely freezing here, but the constant sunshine makes all the colours intensely beautiful, not least the lake, which glitters sapphire blue and is ringed with moss-green mountains.
Before leaving Arequipa I was relieved and excited to see that the building we want to help the church buy is still for sale. The vision is to purchase this beautiful old building, renovate it and create a centre which will include craft workshops, a shop and café, all entirely staffed by people with disabilities. We have just £30,000 left to raise in order to purchase it, which is so much less than justa few months ago, but we need to raise this quickly if we’re to avoid losing the building to another buyer, and there’s nothing else remotely suitable within our price range anywhere nearby. Those of you who do, please pray we can raise this money soon. The Neema Crafts centre in Tanzania was almost entirely funded by hundreds of individuals giving relatively small amounts, so if you’d like to help then whatever you can give *will* make a difference, and will get up closer to making the vision a reality.
We have to stay out of Peru for a few days in order for Ellie to get a new visitors permit when we return, for the remainder of her 9 month stay, so we’re using the time productively to reflect on what we’re done so far, plan what we’re doing next and work on new designs. I bought way more beads with me on this trip than clothes – something I’m slightly regretting now I’ve discovered how cold it is here! We set off back to the relative warmth of Arequipa on Monday, arriving sometime the next day after more hours on busses than I care to calculate. Suffice to say, its’ a long way, so please pray we get back safely. Can’t wait to get back and meet up with the rest of the differently-able people we’re working with here, it’s so encouraging to see the beautiful work they’re all creating.
Look out for pictures next week!
Susie Hart MBE