After a day of orientating the team around Arequipa and collecting final bits of equipment and materials yesterday, we finally welcomed our first trainees today, who arrived with great excitement. We started with the physically disabled group in the morning, who're learning beadwork; and added the larger group of folk with learning disabilities in the afternoon who learnt how to make cards using die-cutting machines and local fabrics. Everyone was really keen to learn and we were really surprised at how quickly they all picked up the new skills. Within a few days they'll be experts! Despite our lack of Spanish, the warmth of the welcome and the affectionate enthusiasm of all the participants meant we were able to start building really lovely relationships with all the trainees very quickly. There was a fab surprise for us at the end of the day; we were all enthusiastically entertained by Richard the Karaoke King and Laura (above) who performed a local dance for us all. We were even presented with hand-made chocolates which they'd made especially for us. It's been an extraordinary day, especially for the Leeds volunteers who've never experienced anything like it before. Grace - our youngest team member at 13, has been a total star and has made a lot of new friends, as have we all!
Susie Hart MBE