Ok. So it has been weeks since I have written and for that I am very sorry! On the one hand it is a really good sign as things have been going well for the beaders and hence I have been rather busy!
However on a sad note I lost my friend and companion George the street dog. For those of you who haven´t previously heard about my four legged friend George, he was adopted initially by a Canadian volunteer but soon adopted
all of us, and used to spend a large part of the day asleep wherever I was working or waiting for me outside the door of the house. He would also accompany me wherever I went, protecting me from cyclists and motorbikes in particular regardless whether I wanted protecting or not, and even coming into the market and all shops and restaurants with me. However Lesley, in whose house he used to sleep, decided to take him back to Canada, and bravely went through the lengthy process of getting the right injections and
papers with all authorities to take him home with her at the end of her stint. So after several emotional farewells George left us and his native Guatemala and flew off into the sunset to a new home in Canada. The story does not end there. On arrival they were due to stay with a friend, who having her own dog was not keen to have George to stay. George as a result
spent his first week in Canada in a Doggy spa having his nails done and his hair washed and blowdried on a daily basis. From street dog to lapdog in a few days. Anyway he is also having problems adjusting to the cold and is refusing to leave the house. Lesley has a coat for him and is even having
him some doggy boots made for him. Poor George- my days have been a lot more lonely without your companionship.
So the work rush came at a good time and kept me being too dog sick. First of all Jan, Karen and Gary from Miracles in action arrived. They are lovely people. They had brought a selection for stuff to distribute and funds for the carpentry programme for the disabled kids at ADISA. The best items for
me though were the hundreds of pairs really cutsie brand new underpants or knickers as I called them much to the amusement of the Americans. My favourite pair was the Spongebob Squarepants squarepants. These were given
out with Lucy in a school supplies distribution in the affected canton of Tzanchaj. I wish I could have seen the kid who got the squarepants!
The same day that we distributed the pants I met with a lady called Lea who is a professor of Anthropology who has been coming to Guatemala for years. She had asked my help with translation on behalf of a beading project she was overseeing for a doctor- Doctor Gil from Springfield in the States who
was one of the founding doctors of the Hospitalito and a major fundraiser for them. Doctor Gil had decided that he wanted to go to the Olympics in Turin and as he was going to take some beaded bracelets to commemorate the games. In fact he wanted to take 5000 bracelets. Now this was the same day
that the games started, so there was a week to make them before he flew out there for the second week. Nothing like a rush job! He had worked with some girls before the storm
but he wanted them to coordinate women from the camp and pay them fairly. However they soon realized that this would have a huge impact on their day to day business if they were going to pay them over three times as much as usual
for this one off bracelet, so decided not to proceed. So lucky for our ladies they got the order instead. Well we didn´t commit to 5000 but to as many as possible. And the timescale was tight.
On Monday we had a group in making up samples with flags and the words Olympics or Turino 06 written up. As soon as the sample was made we had women waiting to pick them up and take them away. However it wasn´t that simple for the ladies to copy the samples. The letters were difficult as
the level of literacy is at best poor, and generally non existent in our women who generally are not able to sign their own name. The flags were also problematic as they tried to make the bracelets symmetrical and as a result put some flags back to front on the right hand side of the bracelets. The clasps were also difficult as Doctor Gil had requested glass bead
clasps, which are smaller and slippier than the usual clasps they make, and so the ladies were making the clasps too big and they would not stay closed. In the first few days we rejected three times as many bracelets as we accepted and were fairly despondent. However in the end the ladies managed to make over 1300 bracelets in a week which added an enormous amount to the profit share as Doctor Gil paid a handsome price. We took $1600 this week not including materials which he purchased separately. My buddie Lorenda
also came down and did a piece for Canadian radio about the Olympic project to drum up some publicity.
Doctor Gil also wants us to get on with some World cup samples fro Germany. Thus far we have had a few interesting takes on a football key ring from women who clearly have never seen a football at close quarters so have now asked our one male beader to have a try. He has done the first team shirt. I just hope his ball is less strawberry shaped than the ladies attempts! We have already had requests for Iranian and Ecuadorian shirt keyrings and bracelets from other sources too, so this could be big business if we can get it
right! The other spin off was the idea to look at developing a basic literacy programme to run alongside the beading classes.
That week was exhausting and I really did work all hours. The next week however was almost as busy. Jan and Karen´s Miracles in Action partners Marti (and husband Tavo who unfortunately does not have a younger brother) and Penny and Rita arrived, and all four or them purchased substantially. We also arranged a beading class for them and they made their own bracelet. Man did they come up with some nice designs. Penny had too much to buy to finish hers though so we are awaiting her return so she can give it another go. We had most of Penny´s order ready for her to check and pick up, with some items not being possible as the colours were
not available. It was great to see that with very few exceptions the women had met Penny´s high standards and that they will benefit from her custom again if they continue to work to her satisfaction. Thank you to all of the
Miracle in action crew for your support for our ladies as well as for all the support you give to so many Guatemalans through your many projects. In total you spent over $900 with our ladies which is fabulous.
I want to say a public thank you to Karen at this point who left me some money for my personal expenses too, for which I am very grateful. Thank you also to Marti, Tavo and Penny for lunch and the Margarita, and Jan and Gary for the cheese and wine. I really enjoyed spending time with all of you and
hope very much that you will be back here again soon to share some more fun and friendship. Please come next weekend Marti if it is still an option!
So two really successful weeks at the end of February when we had expected a really slow month. It was definitely worth the sleepless nights.
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