Yesterday morning we had to get up at 3AM in the morning in order to get our flight to Ayacucho at 5.30AM. On the plane we met Karin, who works at DIA and with whom I’ve been e-mailing back and forth for the past few months regarding the LNAndes collection, and her ‘senior’ Roeland who works for Solid International. Great meeting them in person!
We’re staying at Joker’s VIAVIA hotel on the main plaza in Ayacucho. Our view is absolutely stunning, the people super friendly, great double bed and as Griet would say; ‘I could organise a party in my bathroom’. So, nothing to complain about! We couldn’t check in until two so we decided to head into this beautiful little town. Fist stop: mercado! We love doing markets, it’s so much fun just to stroll around, try all little bits and bites, fruit and vegetables we have never seen and tried before, and treat ourselves on 750cl of fresh fruit juice for only 3 soles. It starts to become a tradition here!
Our breakfast wasn’t even digested yet or we were craving some more local Peruvian food again. At the market we discovered a bunch of the cutest local food stalls. With our 3 words of Spanish we managed to order two delicious vegetarian dishes. It was quite an experience, not only for us but also for the locals there. For once it was not us taking pictures, since we decided to rest a bit and didn’t bring our camera’s (darned!), but the locals taking pictures of those 2 strange European-looking chickens! So we gave the old little men our best pose! Smile!
After a shower and a sangria we were more than ready to hit our bed, god were we tired! But lovely Karin and Roeland invited us for a more than delicious evening meal. Homemade curry with cooked quinoa, fish and shrimps. Finger licking good! Roeland’s quite a chef! Yes yes, me and Griet will definitely not starve here in Peru!
On Monday, as in today, the day I have been looking forward to for the past few months, was about to arrive; meeting all the lovely ladies and young mothers that knit and crochet for LN|Beanies & LN|Andes at DIA. To be honest, I was slightly nervous to meet them! So with trembling hands I entered the workspace and saw them working, live, on beautiful Big Bertha’s, Mini Maria’s and Long Lucy’s… This might sound a bit strange to some of you! These are the names of my three sizes of scarves at LN|Andes… So you know!
A beautiful mix of traditional older ladies and more modern young mothers with there cutest little babies were there to give me and Griet a super warm welcome. What a feeling. I was literally ‘touched’ or ‘ontroerd’. After Karin gave me and Griet a bit of extra info on the amazing project of DIA, I gave a little speech to the ladies. Of course Karin was there to translate since I can only speak a few words of Spanish. I told them that I was very excited meeting them and that I will try to create as much as employment/work as possible. They all started laughing out loud while clapping there hands. For them this work is sacred and the more they get to knit and crochet, the better there living standards…
First on the programme today: ‘how to crochet a LN|Andes baggy beanie’. Armed with a bunch of crochet-pens and some beautiful yarn me and the ladies gave it a shot. Knitting a typical LN|baggy beanie is not at all easy, but at the end of the day 4 ladies have made a flawless LN|Beanie. Couldn’t have been more proud! ‘Oefening baart kunst’. Since they will have to knit about a 1200 beanies for LN, these lessons are extremely crucial. On Thursday we have another day to perfectionise some of the other beanies.
Second: make beautiful positive portraits of the ladies while holding their knits and/or kids. The young mothers that come to DIA for help, guidance and work all bring there little children and babies. They’ve been going to some very rough times but thanks to DIA they have been given a second chance. A chance of living a better and steadier life with room for love and care.
What an amazing day. I’ve been nervous, I’ve been touched, I’ve been hugged, I’ve been loved. Beautiful project, that’s for sure. Cannot wait to grow with LN|Beanies and LN|Andes in order to create more employment and to make even more ladies happy. And it works both ways, at this moment, I’m nothing but smiles.
Muchas gracias senioritas!