On Wednesday I met Sonia of Hearts Cafe. I had been looking for something to do for the 2 weeks Rowshan would be taking class. On Tuesday I talked to some people from the museum but I just didn't get the feeling that my skills would be any use. They have a program where volunteers pay $150 a week for lodging and the privilage of volunteering. When I said I didn't want to pay the fee but was willing to volunteer, they told me I could work in their store selling textiles made by women from some of the communities in the mountains. Yes, it is a nice thing that they are doing, selling textiles for the women in the communities, but it just seems that if they are going to realistically run a business, they need to run it well enough that they could hire people from the community to work in the shop (and get a fair wage) and not rely on volunteers. I guess, I'm becoming fussy about volunteering... But, if I'm going to put my time into something, I want it to be for something I believe in and where my skills are actually worth something.
So, I went into Hearts Cafe and talked to Sonia. Sonia is amazing. She is running the cafe, dealing with immigration issues and changes in policy about businesses run by foreigners, she has just started an NGO, Living Heart, and she has a bunch of different humanitarian projects she is juggling. All this at an age where many people would think of retiring to a nice beach town and playing golf. Hearts Cafe exists to raise funds for projects that help women and children in villages in the Sacred Valley. While doing this, it also employs people from the community, pays them a decent wage, and provides tourists with perhaps the most nutritious food in Peru. As Sonia started to tell me about the cafe and the projects, she became more and more enthusiastic as she described the solutions they were providing for various problems faced by the communities she worked with. The projects include providing breakfasts for schools, contraception and family planning advice for women who want it, clothing distribution, donations of art and school supplies to schools as well as plants and seeds for organic gardens in the village. Living Heart also has organized doctor visits to villages and conservation projects.
Anyway, Sonia was delighted to learn I was a graphic/web designer. She needed to alter the logos for Hearts Cafe and Living Heart to have a shadow of the names translated into Spanish, the Cafe web page needed to be updated, and she needed a web page designed for Living Heart. Next week, someone would be coming to help with fundraising and writing the content. After talking to Sonia, she said I could think about what she needed and if I was interested, I could come in the next morning.
It was an easy decision. Something about Sonia and her projects just inspires people to want to help out.
The next morning, I met with Sonia at the cafe and got the full information about the projects, as well as started on the logos.