Day 12 in Cusco - 20th May
This morning we had our weekly volunteer meeting, where we discuss how everybody’s getting on and address and issues or questions people have in the house, school or communities. We discovered it had been a good week as the construction projects were progressing quickly, lessons were being planned and going well, and most importantly no-body had been ill! After the meeting, we had a delicious cookery lesson given to us all by Santusa, our cleaner/house keeper and occasional chef . During the lesson we all cook different parts of a three course meal which we then eat together in the house courtyard. Today we had a delicious Quinoa soup, a local dish, Peruvian chicken curry and a warm chocolate cake for dessert…lovely!
This afternoon I had been scheduled on a community visit, a group of us drove up to one of the communities we’d be working at: Quilla Huata. Firstly we trekked up a steep slope to a house which had been destroyed recently by mud slides. It was the boys job to knock down the walls of the house and break up the mud bricks for the men in the community to reform, and eventually re-build the house. It was great to see the materials of the house being re-used so sustainably! While Lauren, our volunteer leader chatted to the owners of the house, I made friends with some children watching us work. The children live in the community and one of the boys I recognised from our classes at the Pumamarca school. It was very humbling to see the conditions in which these children live, and made me realise the importance that the school plays in these children’s lives.
I had been allocated to help run the Talleres workshops with another volunteer Jenny, so we headed back down the hill with Lauren to the school where the workshops were being held. During these workshops the mothers of the community attend afternoon classes, three times a week and learn weaving, knitting, painting, jewelry making, arts & crafts, ceramics and woodwork. During these workshops they work on craft items which we collect and take up to the school in Pumamarca to sell to tour groups.
It was my and Jenny’s job to record the name and number of each woman, and keep a record of both the materials they take - wool, fabric etc. and the finished items they bring back for us to sell. Not an easy task! Even with the help of Iris, our Peruvian social worker, it was a very busy few hours which flew past very quickly. We got lots of practice on our numbers - especially those in the hundreds, and how to pronounce the Peruvian names - v’s are pronounced as b’s, j’s as h’s and ‘ll’ as ‘ly’, which takes a while to get used to, especially when you have a line of women to check in and they‘ve forgotten their numbers! This week the women had been very productive and brought lots of scarves, hats, wall hangings and bracelets for us to take away with us.
The workshops are a great way for the women to chat together, talk about their lives and bring up any issues with Iris, the social worker without fear of a reaction from their husbands or families. Some of the mothers had brought babies, several of which were occupying themselves by crawling or running around the floor and under our table to our amusement! Teenagers from the community can also take part and there were a group stationed on the jewellery table. The boys especially I noticed, were particularly apt at making necklaces!
After Talleres, we headed back down the mountain with a few extra people in the mini-bus - some of the community head down into Cusco after the meeting, either to sell things, or visit family and hitch a lift with us, saving themselves a 2 hour walk in the dark!