Thursday, 9 July 2009

Video Clips from our Goodbye Celebrations

Here are a selection of short videos taken at our recent goodbye celebrations. To view better quality versions in larger windows please check The Colour of Hope's YouTube channel.

The little ones dancing...
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Thank you from José...
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Thank you from Luís...

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Thank you from Hugo...
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Thank you from Trinidad...
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Thank you from José Luís Lima...
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Thank you from Natali...
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Thank you from Katherine...
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Thank you from Bilela...
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Goodbye Celebrations at The Colour of Hope

As many of our supporters already know, I will be returning to the UK on the 15th July with a view to staying there permanently. I have been directing The Colour of Hope’s work in Peru since 2007, and have worked with children and young people out here for the best part of the last eight years. But now I need to begin thinking about my own personal development and what the next step will be for me.

Although we won’t be running the same project for the time being, The Colour of Hope will continue to exist as a funding body, redirecting any funds that haven’t yet been allocated into other similar effective and trustworthy projects in Peru. Those of you who make regular donations are very welcome to continue to do so if you feel it appropriate.

A couple of days ago, we had a small get-together here at The Colour of Hope to celebrate all the good times we’ve shared and the skills we’ve all learnt. Many of the young people and families we’ve supported over the last few years were present at the gathering, as well as some of the local volunteers who’ve helped us along the way. In true Peruvian style, there was a place for both tears and laughter, sadness and joy. Each of the young people gave thanks for what they've learnt and then the music was turned up and the little ones (and some of us big ones!) started dancing. As usual, everyone enjoyed the cake, fizzy drinks and other party nibbles.

I will leave Peru with mixed feelings; sad that it is the end of an era, but content and confident that each of our young people will continue to improve their lives, putting what they have learnt into practice. Of course it will take some much longer than others to truly get on the straight and even, but the overall atmosphere at the gathering was one of progress and hope for the future.

Thank you to each and every one of the people who has supported The Colour of Hope and our work over the last few years, albeit by giving your time, financial aid, advice, positive thoughts or any other form of help. Great work has been done here, work that would not have been possible without you.

Amy New, Project Director, Lima - Peru

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Young Peruvian family receives the all clear from doctors about TB

Two of our young people, Natali and Hugo, and their family were diagnosed with TB back in March. But, thankfully, they have now been given the all clear by doctors.

Hugo is now officially non-contagious, even though he has to continue his treatment for at least another four months. Four-year-old Luís is also non-contagious and has been allowed to go back to his nursery. He too will have to continue his treatment for several months yet, but he's very glad to be able to see his little nursery friends again.

Baby Lenny hasn't caught the disease and Natali is undergoing regular tests for the foreseeable future to make sure that she's still clear. She has been able to go back to work at her training placement with Wall Luxury Essentials and is coping very well.

The Colour of Hope continues to provide regular financial and emotional support to this young family, mainly thanks to funds donated from Wall staff. This is enabling them to eat a better diet, including fresh fruit and vegetables, vitamin supplements and high protein foods.

Despite all their problems and difficulties, Natali and Hugo are two of our most highly motivated young people. They always put their all into caring for their two children and really deserve the support they are receiving. Once again, thank you to all those who are involved in helping this young family.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Ten thousand Peruvians march through Lima in support of Amazonian people

For two months, indigenous Amazonian people have rallied against laws which they say will open their lands to oil and gas drilling. Violence erupted last Friday in the town of Bagua Grande when more than 2000 native people - many of them carrying spears and machetes - launched a protest over the Peruvian government's drilling plans. About 30 to 50 protesters and 24 police officers were killed in the worst clashes for at least a decade.

After visiting the area, 1400km (870 miles) north of the capital Lima, rights lawyers said hundreds of people could not be accounted for. Indigenous groups are insisting that the government be tried for crimes against humanity. One of the lawyers, Ernesto de la Jara, urged the government to begin an independent judicial investigation.

"Dead bodies may be covered up for now but, little by little, the truth will come out and they (the authorities) will have to respond," said de la Jara. But the government denies any wrongdoing and has launched a publicity campaign portraying the murders of policemen as acts of savagery.

"It has been irrefutably proven that the police were tortured and killed," Maria Zavala, Peru's ambassador to the Organization of American States, said in a speech in Washington.

Approximately ten thousand Peruvians marched through the centre of Lima yesterday in support of the Amazonian people. Riot squads had to use tear gas to prevent protesters from reaching the Congress building. Watch this short clip of the chaos that reigned in Lima's streets.

Text coutesy of the BBC and Living in Peru

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Friday, 5 June 2009

Chronic child malnutrition in Peru will drop to 16% in 2011

At the end of 2007, an estimated 750 thousand Peruvian children were suffering from chronic malnutrition in Peru.

Yet in 2011, chronic child malnutrition will drop to 16 percent in Peru, said the executive secretary of the Fight Against Poverty Discussion Forum (MCLCP), Félix Grandez. This reduction will mainly be seen in children under the age of three who live in rural areas.

Grandez added that anemia will have dropped to 20% among children and pregnant women by the same year.

He also remarked that the government is investing approximately 1.2 million dollars in programs to help poor rural populations.

Yet 16% is still an awfully large percentage of the country's child population. It's a reminder that even though Peru's economy is expanding and exports are beginning to increase, the country still has many serious internal problems to deal with.

Text courtesy of Living in Peru

Peruvian Shining Path terrorists recruit child soldiers

Alan Garcia, President of Peru, has said that Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) will be sued for using child soldiers in their armed conflict against the state.

The terrorists are said to use children to kill wounded soldiers. “This is something very serious, horrific and inhuman that even the world's ruthless terrorist groups have never done", said Garcia at a press conference. It is something that deserves to be sued at international bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations and the European Parliament.

Last week, Peru was shocked by national programme Punto Final's footage of children brandishing weapons as members of the Shining Path movement. The platoon was led by a boy of about 10 years old. The programme, shown on Peruvian television channel "Frecuencia Latina", shows the training of 17 children armed with automatic weapons and wearing military fatigues.

Click the video link below to see a clip of the footage.

Text courtesy of Andina News Agency

video

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Poverty in Peru reduced to 36.2% last year

A report from Peru’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) states that last year poverty in Peru was reduced by 3.1% - from 39.3% in 2007 to 36.2% in 2008.

According to INEI, in 2007, poverty dropped by 5.2%, from 44.5% (2006) to 39.3% (2007).

The World Bank reported that progression of poverty reduction figures presented by Peru have a reasonable precision, because in last 4 years the country has kept a method of calculation comparable in time.

These studies were supervised by an Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from government institutions, the academic community, think tanks and international organizations such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and France’s Institute for Research on Development.

Source: Andina News Agency

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Young family copes with TB diagnosis

Back in March, Natali’s husband and four-year-old son were diagnosed with TB. Natali also had to undergo tests to see if she had been infected. The test results came back a week ago, and she was over the moon to be given the all-clear. This means she has been able to go back to work and resume her normal routine.

Hugo is now a few weeks into his treatment, which is long and extremely intensive, but apart from expected side effects, he says he is starting to feel stronger and more himself. Luís, Natali’s four-year-old will also be starting treatment in the next few days once the necessary documents come through.

TB is sadly extremely common in Peru, perpetuated by cramped living conditions and poor diets. But with the right treatment and a good diet the disease is curable in the vast majority of cases.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to take a car load of donations up to Natali and her family, with the help of staff from CEDRO, a local NGO. The items included vitamins for the whole family, kindly donated by Judith and Hernán Balcázar and staff at Wall Luxury Essentials, tins of fish, rice, lentils, beans and other pulses from CEDRO and milk, tuna and other tins from Blanca de Romero from Bianco de Mare textiles factory. I also included some clothes and toys that had been donated to The Colour of Hope.


Thank you to all those who are supporting Natali and Hugo’s young family, especially their sponsors Jess and Rosa Batten-Stevens, Judith and Hernán Balcázar and all the representatives of Wall Luxury Essentials, Monica Ochoa from CEDRO, and Blanca de Romero and all her staff at Bianco de Mare textiles factory.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Keiko Fujimori would take 25% of the vote in the 2011 election

Keiko Fujimori is the most popular presidential candidate in Peru, according to a poll by Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado published in El Comercio. 25% of respondents would vote for the daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori in the 2011 election, up eight points since August:

The recent conviction and sentencing of Keiko's 70-year-old father, Alberto Fujimori, for 1990s death squad killings and forced disappearances have thrust Keiko into the spotlight.

"I think this very harsh verdict will be a boomerang," said Keiko. "If they thought they would defeat Fujimorism with this, they're all wrong." Immediately after the verdict, she called it "vengeful" and predicted public outrage would propel her to Peru's presidency. If elected, she has said she would pardon her father.

Keiko said she has collected the signatures of 700,000 people who back her father and has set a goal of obtaining 1 million. She told reporters that she plans "a great crusade to clear the name of Alberto Fujimori. We want to go to the most remote villages, above all those that suffered the scourge of terrorism and let it be known how unjust this verdict is."

Although she is the most popular presidential candidate for the 2011 election, many analysts say her appeal is limited. Investigative journalist, Gustavo Gorriti, who was abducted in 1992 for criticizing Fujimori's shuttering of the opposition-led Congress and courts, stated that Keiko's candidacy is "essentially single-issue: Fujimori's freedom."

Watch this short clip of Keiko and Fujimori propaganda, just a taster of the huge red writing scrawled on every spare wall-space along the Southern Panamerican Highway:


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Source: Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado / El Comercio
Methodology: Interviews with 1,000 Peruvian adults, conducted from Apr. 15 to Apr. 17, 2009. Margin of error is 3 per cent.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Former President Fujimori is sentenced to 25 years on charges of human rights violations

Peru’s ex-president Alberto Fujimori has recently been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, following a verdict of guilty on four counts of human rights violations.

Alberto Fujimori was on trial for crimes against humanity for allegedly sanctioning the Colina Group paramilitary death squad that killed 25 people in two incidents known as Barrios Altos and La Cantuta. He also faces various other charges for corruption, bribery, illegal phone tapings, and misconduct during his decade-long presidency.

The sentence, and the verdict, are historic in Peru and the hemisphere, as it is the first time a former president has been tried and found guilty of similar charges. Fujimori has also been sentenced to pay compensation of 62,400 soles to the families of each of the 29 victims of the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta cases, and 46,800 soles to each of the kidnap victims Gustavo Gorriti and Samuel Dyer, a total of approximately $614,000.

Fujimori's eldest daughter, Keiko Fujimori, said she “would not hesitate” to grant her father amnesty if she wins the 2011 presidential elections. Human rights activists have rained heavy criticism on Keiko for this suggestion:

“The congresswoman must be reminded that people who have committed crimes against humanity and have violated human rights, crimes for which her father will be condemned, cannot be pardoned or amnestied nor can they receive any type of political, penitentiary or legislative benefit. This is the core of the matter,” said human rights lawyer Carlos Rivera.

“Fujimori has committed crimes of forced disappearances, and this type of crime cannot be pardoned. The Human Rights Court, in its 2001 sentence in the Barrios Altos case, declared that crimes against humanity and violations of human rights cannot be pardoned or amnestied,” Rivera said. “So someone should tell the congresswoman that the pardon will remain a wish because it’s not viable and it’s not legal.”

Fujimori enacted a controversial amnesty law in 1995 that exonerated all military, police and civilians for any human rights violations committed between May 1982 and June 1995 if they were associated to the counterinsurgency war. The law, argued to be necessary for “national reconciliation,” led to the release of those convicted for the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos massacres.

But in September 2001, the Human Rights Court, at the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, made an interpretative sentence in which it announced that Fujimori’s Amnesty Laws were without any legal force.

Legislators from different political parties also strongly reacted to Keiko Fujimori’s comments:

“I think that we should evaluate the possibility of writing up a bill that makes it illegal for a person who becomes president to pardon their family members,” said Congressman Juvenal Ordóñez.

Keiko Fujimori is a 32 year-old business administrator and is the probable presidential candidate for Fujimori’s right-wing party “Alliance for the Future”.

Courtesy of The Peruvian Times.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

13 Peruvian soldiers killed in El VRAE - The Forgotten Valley of Peru

Almost a year and a half ago I wrote a post about the chaos and extreme poverty that rules in El VRAE, The Forgotten Valley of Peru. Sadly, it seems that nothing much has changed, despite supposed increased government and military presence:

One of the deadliest terrorist operations in years — suspected to have been planned and staged by a former teacher turned guerrilla — has left 13 soldiers dead in Peru’s remote Apurimac and Ene River Valleys, or VRAE, said Defense Minister Ántero Flores Áraoz.

“The attack carried out with dynamite and grenades occurred on Thursday, and the victims include a captain, a junior officer and 11 soldiers,” Áraoz said during a press conference on Saturday, adding that the remote and jungle-covered VRAE and arduous communication in the region explain why there was such a delay in announcing the deadly ambush.

The attack was staged by “Olga," a close friend of Víctor Quispe Palomino, or “José,” the Shining Path’s political leader in the region.

Alberto Cerrón Palomino, or “Camrade Artemio,” is the only known Shining Path leader from the group’s original directorate never killed or imprisoned. He still commands a force of some 200-300 insurgents in Peru’s central jungle region.

The Shining Path has been largely dormant since 2000. The once 10,000-strong Maoist rebel group nearly brought Peru’s government to its knees during the 1980s with car bombings, assassinations and brazen attacks on police and military outposts. But the group lost momentum following the 1992 capture of its founder Abimael Guzman, who is serving life in a naval prison.

Nevertheless, sporadic Shining Path attacks still claim lives every year.

The recent spike in deadly attacks is largely attributed to a fresh offensive by the Peruvian military, launched last August by Peru President Alan García.

The isolated VRAE is located at the confluent river borders separating the rural departments of Ayacucho, Cusco and Apurímac. The zone is a hotbed for drug traffickers and their hired guns — mostly guerrilla remnants of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency — who regularly carry out deadly roadside ambushes against police and assassinate local officials in retaliation for raids on cocaine processing labs.

Last November, four police officers were killed and four others wounded by Shining Path rebels armed with machine guns on the outskirts of Tingo María, in the Huánuco region of Peru ’s central jungle. Some 40 guerrillas armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades ambushed a four-car police convoy in the coca-producing Huallaga valley at the height of kilometer 23 of the Federico Basadre Highway, as the convoy was leaving Tingo María, on its way toward Pucallpa.

Then, on Oct. 10, 2008, Shining Path guerrillas ambushed a column of military trucks with a bomb and gunfire, killing 13 soldiers and two civilians and wounding 14 other soldiers and three civilians. The rebel attack was the past decade’s deadliest.

Civilians were riding with soldiers in trucks returning to the Cochabamba Grande base in Huancavelica - near the jungle-covered VRAE, where about 30 percent of Peru’s coca leaf is harvested – when they were ambushed near the town of Tintaypunco. Rebels detonated a bomb as the convoy rounded a bend, and then opened fire with automatic weapons. In days prior to the ambush, the army claimed that five rebels were killed in the area, and that 15 others were captured.

On Nov. 16, four police were killed in another ambush by narcoterrorists on the road just outside the city of Huanta, in the department of Ayacucho. The highway patrol was attacked by about 30 men armed with machine guns and rifles. At the time, then Minister of Interior Remigio Hernani said the attack appeared to be in revenge against continuing police raids in the area to combat illegal coca and cocaine production.

According to Jaime Antezana, a sociologist and expert in illegal coca and cocaine production, these attacks indicate that the anti-narcotics program is not achieving its objectives. He reports 21 rebel ambushes since July 2003. These attacks have killed a total of 35 soldiers, 23 police and more than a dozen civilians.

Peru was once the world’s leading producer of coca. But the country slashed its production by 70 percent between 1995 and 2001 primarily because of low coca prices, interdiction, forced eradication of coca fields and programs that encourage farmers to grow alternative crops. But by 2002, the number of hectares used to illegally grow coca in Peru increased as efforts to eradicate the crop in Colombia forced production southward.

This can be explained by the balloon effect, or the drug fields’ tendency to shift elsewhere and sometimes to smaller and harder-to-reach plots in response to local eradication campaigns, and the fact that for farmers, the coca harvest provides more money than any other crop: up to five times as much can be earned for a kilogram of coca than for a kilogram of coffee.

In June 2008, a study conducted by Peru’s National Commission for the Development of Life without Drugs, or Devida, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicated that coca crops had increased by 4.5 percent in 2007 and that approximately 92 percent of Peruvian coca production is destined for the fabrication of cocaine paste and cocaine hydrochloride.

In the VRAE, production of the alcoloid-packed leaf has risen steadily from 14,170 hectares in 2002 to 16,019 hectares last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Courtesy of The Peruvian Times

Sunday, 29 March 2009

New youth employment scheme provides hope for our young people

Last Tuesday, I went to visit Bilela at her new job at Colegio Euroamericano, Pachacamac.

Bilela has been one of our more difficult young people because of her severe lack of self-confidence and self-worth. Dumped in a care home at the age of 7 and neglected by her family throughout most of her young life, it's not surprising that she's still suffering from the symptoms of rejection. She has a speech impediment which, in a country where anti-discrimination laws are seldom exercised, makes finding work much harder.


But a couple of weeks ago, Bilela was overjoyed to find out she'd been
accepted at Colegio Euroamericano (Euroamerican School) as a kitchen helper. Sr. Aldo Lazo del Carpio (pictured right), owner of the school, is supporting The Colour of Hope by giving jobs to some of our young people. Bilela is the first to benefit from this new scheme. It is a great opportunity for her financially speaking and will also give her excellent work experience. So far she's doing very well and really enjoys the school's friendly atmosphere.



Thank you very
much Sr. Aldo for all your support, and thank you also to the staff of Colegio Euroamericano for giving Bilela such a warm welcome to your team.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

People's Opinion on Global Issues

We all know what the Seven Wonders of the World are, the Top 500 Companies and even the World's Strongest Man. Yet there is no centralised information about what the biggest problems of the world are, at least not from the people's point of view.

Felipe, from Costa Rica, has begun an internet poll about global issues and is hoping to collect enough information to be able to kick-start social projects based on the results. Visit his website at http://topissues.intribu.org/ to cast your vote and make your opinion count, or propose what you think is the world's most important problem this year.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Wall Internship Program Peru

This video is about Wall Luxury Essentials Internship Program in Peru and The Colour of Hope's involvement. Natali, one of our most promising young people, talks a bit about her past and how much her life has changed thanks to Wall and The Colour of Hope's help.

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Charity Talk at The Latymer School, London

Many thanks to Trustee Georgia Platman for the talk she gave at The Latymer School this month. Here is a report from Georgia:

Last week I went back to my old secondary school - The Latymer School, Edmonton - for the first time in six years to give a talk to the sixth formers about The Colour of Hope. I was extremely nervous and had no idea what to expect, but the students and teachers made me feel welcome to be back and their support for the charity was overwhelming. I gave a forty minute talk about my life since leaving in 2003 in front of nearly 500 sixth formers (16-18 year olds). As they are all on the cusp of leaving school, I think they appreciated hearing about what a fellow Latymerian did upon striking out into the world - I got positive feedback from all the students who came to talk to me afterwards.

A collection from the students also showed what a generous bunch they are - they donated £192 to The Colour of Hope after hearing my presentation! That will go a long way to helping another young person escape the poverty cycle in Lima. So a HUGE thank you to all of those students who gave money, and also to those who enquired about the charity afterwards. Feel free to either write to me - georgia@thecolourofhope.org - or to Amy in Peru - info@thecolourofhope.org - for more information about fundraising or possibilities of fundraising in your gap years.

Many thanks to the teachers at Latymer who made the talk possible, and to Shaun Newport for assisting.

Tany & Katherine's Birthdays

Last Tuesday, we celebrated Tany and Katherine's 19th birthdays. It was a small gathering this time, as most of the young people are now working. But everyone enjoyed themselves, especially Katherine's 2-year-old, Christian. Thank you to Jess and Rosa Batten Stevens for the support they provide Tany and Katherine and their respective families.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Work for 5 disadvantaged young people

To all our Peru-based supporters:

5 of our young people are now at the stage of looking for work. One of them (Trinidad) is about to confirm a computer apprenticeship, but the other 4 haven't managed to find anything yet. All of them are from orphanages and have have tragic life stories, previously suffering from extreme poverty, sexual abuse, living on the streets etc. But they're all are keen to put their suffering behind them and start building a positive future. The Colour of Hope is supporting them at this crucial stage because life as a young person in Peru isn't easy, and is far harder without the family support and love that we all need.

If you can help one or more of these five young people, or know someone who can we'd be very grateful. Perhaps you know a business with staff vacancies, or maybe you could put a word in at the shops/businesses you use to see if they'd be willing to take on another worker/apprentice.

Here are some brief details of the young people and I can send CV's if necessary:

Bilela (19 years) is skilled at cake-making and cake-decorating. She's looking for work in a Pastelería/Panadería (cake shop/bakery). She lives in Pachacamac, so would be able to work in La Molina, Lurin, Pachacamac, Cieneguilla type area. It would be her first job, so she would probably start off as an apprentice and do "practicas" (perhaps in exchange for her bus fares and food).

José Luís (18 years) has studied Panadería (bakery) at ProJoven and is also looking for work in a bakery. He will be living in Pueblo Libre when he leaves care, so could work anywhere near there (Pueblo Libre, San Miguel, Magdalena, Cercado de Lima, Breña, Jesus Maria, San Isidro, Miraflores etc.). It would also be his first job, so he could start of with "practicas".

Katherine (18 years) is very skilled at most types of sales work. She's also very creative and has taken a course in "Manualidades" (Handicrafts). She will be living in Central Lima when she leaves care so, like José Luís, could work anywhere central (Pueblo Libre, San Miguel, Magdalena, Cercado de Lima, Breña, Jesus María, Miraflores, San Isidro etc.) She has had several jobs and also been self-employed, selling a variety of products. She is a single mother, but her son is now 2 and will be looked after by his grandmother while Katherine is at work.

Tany (18 years) is one of our most intelligent project participants. She has a good understanding of small business administration and management and is trained in Corte y Confección (dressmaking). She'd like to find work in this field, but is happy to do something else in the meantime. She has experience as a waitress and kitchen helper. She lives in Huaycan, but is happy to travel to wherever the work is located. She's a single mother of a 2-year-old, but she can leave her daughter at the nursery while she goes to work.

José Luis and Trinidad don't have any family or anywhere to go when they leave care so The Colour of Hope will help them to rent shared accommodation. They'll need a few basic household goods such as a small stove and gas bottle, kitchen items, bedding etc. If you have any items you no longer use or need, please get in touch because it will be a great help to these two young people.

Please contact me on 990336722 or at info@thecolourofhope.org. Thank you all so much for your ongoing support.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Christmas at The Colour of Hope

This Christmas we celebrated in the traditional Peruvian way, with steaming mugs of hot chocolate (despite the hot summer weather!) and panetone bread. Two Peruvian volunteers, Katherina and Bertha, kindly contributed edibles, as well as giving presents to the young people and their children.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was a good end to a very successful year for the charity and our project participants. Many thanks to all our supporters, without whom such success would have been impossible. Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for 2009.