Sunday, January 16, 2011

The big clean up!

Written by Helen Osborn, Mysmallhelp Peru, December 2010
On Saturday 18th December Us MysmallHelp volunteers took a day off from the chocolatadas and teamed up with Naturaccion to help them with a cleanup project near the start of the Inca trail where we were told Peru Rail had been dumping all their rubbish. The name of the project is Naturaccion, it was started by a Spaniard named Jose Manuel.  He and his organization had found areas in and around the sacred valley where they proposed setting up Eco campsites. The location we went to with the group to help out was absolutely stunning, and I believe that once the campsite is ready to go it will extremely popular especially because it is so near to the Inca trail. We were all aware before we started the day that it was going to be manual labor and picking up rubbish was unlikely to be a pleasant experience; however when we arrived at the site the sheer amount of rubbish was a lot more than any of us envisaged. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it was literally a sea of rubbish.

At the top of the hill just off from the train tracks there was just sacks and sacks of the stuff as well as individual nappies, sanitary towels, beer bottles, food containers….you name it! The rubbish covered the whole of the top of the hill and continued all the way to the bottom of the site, and awfully the river was laidened with rubbish as well. It really was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen or done, and I was aghast at the lack of conscience on the part of Peru Rail and the others who were dumping the rubbish. So the men set about digging holes for the trees to plant in, and the women dawned gloves and masks and began the clean up. The other volunteers that we were working with were fantastic and extremely hard working. However as I have said there was substantial amount of rubbish, and as it had been there so long it had become mixed in with the earth and so and some points we were having to really dig into the ground with shovels to get the rubbish out. Also a lot of bits start to degrade after so much time being left and so the work could also be quite fiddly. We stayed working there until 4pm.However half way through the day me and Leander did decide to use our female initiative!

There was a local football tournament going on literally next to where we were clearing up, so as we felt slightly disheartened by the sheer amount we had to do and there was some very able body men nearby we decided to go over and ask if they would help! They said yes and duly after they had finished their game about 20 men came over and helped out! It was very much appreciated and definitely helped out the cleanup process.  By this time most of the rubbish had been cleared, and we had roughly 50 sacks of rubbish. Peru rail had agreed as most of this rubbish was there to pick up all the sacks and to donate 500 trees for this particular site. However, not only did the trees arrive very late but instead of 500 we were given 50. Due to this the Naturaccion decide not to go ahead with the planting that day, which of course was a huge disappointed to the guys who had been digging holes all day.

 I spoke to Jose Manuels wife who told me that this rubbish was not all due to Peru Rail, a lot of it was also due to the Muncipilidad failing to provide the local town with a proper rubbish dump so they had joined in with dumping their rubbish in the same place. We did have some people from the nearby village helping us out, and because they too were ashamed and disgusted and how out of
control the rubbish had got. All in all, it was a hard and disgusting work but you could really see the difference, and see the ground!! It had been a good day’s work, and a great team effort!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas market in Cusco

by Helen Osborn, Mysmallhelp Volunteer December 2010, Peru

Our day started bright and early on Christmas eve, Leander and I dashed down to the market at 7am in the usual last minute Peruvian panic type way! We arrived at the market to find most people had been there since four in the morning and had already set up their stalls. We on the other hand weren’t even quite sure where our men for constructing our stall were! Luckily we stumbled upon them quite quickly!  Luckily, the day before Leander and Abel had managed to find a company in Cusco that hired tents, chairs and tables. Lurdes is a young disabled girl that Mysmallhelp has been supporting since May. Lurdes  suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, and had previously been locked away in her house in Rumira just outside Ollantaytambo for nearly 18 years.  Before Mysmallhelp helped to find her a wheel chair she had no way of moving independently. Her life has changed significantly over the past 2 months has recently started to learn to read and write with a private government teacher that Mysmallhelp helped organize to visit her at her home. Lurdes has also recently been given training in jewellery making with a Cuscenan jewellery teacher named Cristian. Cristian is delighted to have the privelige of teaching Lurdes and has said that he will be the happiest man alive if he has the opportunity to help another 20 Lurdes!!


Mysmallhelp decided to pay for a stand at the Christmas market in Cusco to help Lurdes to sell the jewellery that she made in November and December.  Designer, Abel Torres also helped by donating 10% of the sales of his designer clothes to Mysmallhelp to support Lurdes and other disabled young people.


The men set about constructing the stall with a plastic tarpaulin to prevent the rain from running the products and Leander went to find the tables and chairs. Cristian and Nelly arrived at about 8.30am ahead of Lurdes and Abel to help us work out the display for the products. Cristian has a lot of experience in this and therefore knows the best way to display products so that they are eye catching, but not set out in such an elaborate way that people are scared to touch them. Lurdes and Abel arrived about an hour later; shortly after the market quickly fell into full swing. The Plaza was packed with handicraft products and typical Peruvian Christmas food stalls. The place was literally bursting at the seams with Alpaca and Panetone!!!!-this however was very much to our advantage. Of course no one can ever deny the sheer beauty of the artisan products of Peru,  a lot of the stalls were selling the same products, Abel’s and Lurdes products on the other handed offered those trawling the plaza something completely different. Lurdes products were very beautiful and, as I said, very different to the other jewellery products. Her price was very fair and she had a good selection of products ranging from the real “I love it” pieces, to bracelets that caught the impulse buyers as well as those really looking. Abel´s products were major eye catchers, especially his hand made printed pieces. I had assumed that the target audience for Abel´s clothes would have been foreigners, because the clothes carry a definite rave style. However in the end the main buyers turned out to be Peruvians. The great thing about the range of clothes Abel was selling was that as well as the printed pieces he also had a rail of more simply stylish clothes that appealed greatly to girls between 18-30 years old. We did have to concede on the prices slightly and of course make some deals (we are in major bargaining territory after all!) but he still sold a good amount for a good price. 

The morning went very smoothly, but the thought hanging over everyone’s head was: “ and what time can we expect the rain?” and sure enough without fail it came, and wow.. it rained! Although we did have plastic covering our stall, the water still managed to get instead, and Leander had warned us how the year before the force of the rain had brought tents down. We covered every inch that we could with plastic, and regularly pushed the rain off the roof of the tent with a stick. It had been in January 2010 when the rain was so strong that it caused the river in the sacred to flood and thousands of people’s homes were destroyed. Luckily this year the rain was not as strong, and so all we had to do was wait for it stop, however that did take a good two hours! All in all it was felt that the Christmas market was a success in terms of sales and advertising for Abel, Lurdes and MySmallHelp. The Christmas market itself was lovely! During the whole of December there had been a distinct lack of Christmas spirit, however on the 24th of December in Plaza de Armas, Cuzco it suddenly sprang to life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mysmallhelp in Peru

2010 Working in partnership with Casa Hogar del Sol, Desana Giving, Odontologos Sin Fronteras, Living Heart and Awamaki

Following the devastating floods in the sacred valley in January 2010 Mysmallhelp UK decided to put up an emergency appeal to help the flood victims. This appeal resulted in a fundraising campaign raising over 20,000 pounds.
The funds raised by Mysmallhelp initially went to provide emergency food for the flood victims of the Paucarbamba community that had lost their homes in the devastating floods. Food was provided for 150 people on a daily basis over a 10 week period and two temporary food shelters were built for the upper and lower communities. The Paucarbamba community organized themselves into two groups and took it in turns to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner on a communal basis sharing cooking and dining space.
Mysmallhelp also provided donated clothes, blankets and emergency educational materials.
Following the 10 week initial period, it was jointly decided with Casa Hogar del Sol and Desana Giving that a survey should be done in the community to decipher what was the best way to help the community in a long term sustainable way by creating jobs and additional income. The survey resulted in the decision to set up the CUYLANDIA project building a training centre for guinea pig rearing and additional guinea pigs for each family interested in setting up their own guinea pig rearing businesses.
The guinea pig rearing training centre was built in August and the training sessions took place over an 8 week period before the guinea pigs arrived in Paucarbamba!
The families are now rearing guinea pigs in their homes and are receiving supervision from the agronomist employed by Casa Hogar del Sol.

Throughout the year Mysmallhelp has arranged for various volunteers to be sent to the Huayroncoyocpampa community to help with the clean up operation, recuperating materials and rebuilding houses.
Mysmallhelp founder, Leander Hollings became the proud “Madrina” of the first rebuilt house.
Mysmallhelp helped to find a teacher and coordinate efforts to set up a knitting cooperative for the homeless women of Huayroncoyocpampa and is currently trying to help find customers for these products in the UK.

Mysmallhelp donated funds to set up a volunteer house in Ollantaytambo in partnership with Casa Hogar del Sol. The volunteer house has beds for 9 volunteers and has proven to be able to house up to 30 dentists at any given time!

A team of dentists organised by Desana Giving came to visit the Paucarbamba community in March 2010. Mysmallhelp helped to coordinate a follow up dental campaign organized in partnership with Odontologos Sin Fronteras.
Volunteer dentists from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Spain treated over 500 patients over a 10 day period during the month of August 2010.
Mysmallhelp helped to fund accommodation and transport for the dental campaign.

Mysmallhelp has arranged for education, books and uniforms to be provided to various individuals in the Ollantaytambo region that had previously not been able to attend school.
Mysmallhelp is working in partnership with the Taller de Pez in Cusco, providing jewellery training and work for an 18 year old disabled girl that had previously been locked away in her house for 18 years. She has now gained confidence and independence as through the friendships she has made over the past 6 months her story has been told on national Peruvian TV and she has received a sports wheel chair from a donor in Spain.

During the run up to Christmas Mysmallhelp raised funds for the Christmas chocolatadas and worked in partnership with local NGO´s Living Heart, Casa Hogar del Sol, and Awamaki to deliver hot chocolate, sweet bread and Christmas gifts to over 3000 people.
Mysmallhelp travelled in a decorated mini bus with clowns and volunteers spreading Christmas cheer on Christmas day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Chocolatadas, Christmas 2010, by Matteo Lewent

Although the actual number of days of the chocolatadas numbered only 8 the preparatory work for them, done mainly by Leander, had taken various months and by the time i arrived was in full swing involving frequent trips to Cusco and negotiations with various suppliers and other NGOs. The aim was to provide chocolatadas involving hot chocolate, fruit bread, entertainment and Peruvian made presents for upwards of 2000 children based in the Sacred valley (although it turned out to be a lot more than this!) in associacion with 3 other charities based in the sacred valley; Living Heart, Paskay and Awamaki.

Our first 3 chocolatadas were done in partnership with Living Heart, a charity providing nutritional projects to remote rural communities. The first chocolatada location was in a field between 2 villages in the mountains above Pisac .We set out early in the morning with a sense of trepidation not quite sure what to expect where our first order of business was to pick up the clowns from their house (to my disappointment they did not live in a big top!) and got a baby and a small child into the bargain!! We picked up Rita who loaded our combi up with over 200 plastic balls and other presents, between these and the number of people we had in the van it was no wonder that we got stuck in the mud on the way up! Following our arrival the chocolate was put on the fire to heat, despite some difficulty getting the fire started (probably because I was poking my nose in trying to ´help´!!), and the clowns put on their show which they seemed to love despite inital fears that some of the children may not understand a show in Spanish! We gave out the plastic balls, presents and red noses in a none too orderly fashion as well as random donated clothes which was interesting as giving adult mens shorts to an 8 year old girl might not seem to be all too useful but they would get distributed to friends and family.

The children seemed to love the finger puppets, seperated at length by Helen, Leander, myself and a small army of helpers, and the older children loved the T-shirts designed by Abel Torres an artist based in Lima with Cusco and Mysmallhelp symbols dotted all over them! Kids were pushing to get presents, coming back for seconds of presents and hot chocolate and parents inventing children they did not have all in their eagerness to get presents. A great introduction to chocolatadas and it was nice to see the kids wearing their red noses and playing with their presents on the ride back down, despite the biting midges and crying babies!

Chocolatada number 2

I was always dreading this chocolatada with a 4am wake up and a 4.30am departure. The journey up to the village took over 5.5 hours and involved going over a mountain pass in excess of 4300m and it was absolutely freezing probably because of the snow outside. We breakfasted in Lares before heading to to the village which was precariously perched on the mountainside bathed in sunlight basking in amazing views of the valley. We were given a very warm welcome by both the headmaster and the kids and did the chocolatada for the primary schools kids as the school was split into into primary and secondary. Following the clowns show and distribution of the presents and the red noses to the primary school kids, and a couple of cheeky secondary school kids we were treated to lunch in one of the classrooms, which when sitting on the mini chairs certainly bought back memories of school!!! The headmaster kindly took us to the main plaza in the town to show us the inca ruins there and explain a bit about the history of the area and it was great to see the kids playing with their presents about the ruins, a great mixture of the old and new!! Our journey back took well over 7.5hours because apparently it is a good idea to only open the road for 2 hours a day, one in the morning and 1 in the evening so Helen and I took the opportunity to do a small hike which was not easy at that altitude combined with running into Llamas it was an interesting experience!!

Chocolatada number 3 with Living heart

Was very much looking forward to this chocolatada as we had been promised that it was nowhere near as far away as the previous one and we had 2 additional helpers in the form of Scott and Meg both from England. We had met Scott the previous day and very quickly had got him involved in sorting out tinger puppets, red noses and t-shirts! What an introduction! As soon as we arrived at the school our van was surrounded by children looking to help us carry the presents and bread down to the school! We distributed the presents and hot chocolate to over 500 children, mothers and teachers and attempted to play a rather energetic game of football with the kids which was really hard at that altitude!! After this we were treated to a tradtional Inka ceremony including pan pipes and blessing Pachamama (at least thats what i think was going on!) as well as a crazy trumpeter who Abel for some reason quickly befriended and serenaded us throughout the clowns show and the games with the kids. Our lunch of quinua soup was really good and we headed back to Ollantaytambo feeling as though the last 3 days with Sacred Heart had gone really well and we had bought a lot of joy to the kids! Would the next one with Carlos be any better? We were about to find out!

Chocolatada with Carlos

In previous days we had been visiting only one village and doing 1 chocolatada per day so it was going to be very interesting to try to do 8 over only 2 days especially considering that each chololatada previously had lasted over 4 hours. Would there be enough hours in the day! Intially a bit disorganized with the bread not turning up until at least 10am despite our 8am plan to leave. Our target villages were those affected by the terrible floods in January and our first stop was the village of Paucarbamba where we were greeted with hugs by about 20 beaming children. A new school building was being built next door higher off the ground so as to avoid a repeat of the floods should they occur again. Whilst Scott and I entertained the kids with our rubbish football skills, Helen and Meg started a game of Jump rope whilst Leander was assisting the hot chocolate. The next 2 villages followed a similar format both at schools with a particularily memorable visit in the village of Ancopachar where Scott donned a Ben 10 outfit, a karate cartoon character,and spent the next 2 hours being hit by the kids whilst 2 Americans who donned santa and dinosaur costumes suffered similar fate. Our final location was at the village of Paucarbamba which was in the shadow of Ollanta, where loads more kids had turned up from the larger town than we had presents for. At this point the heavens opened to compound problems especially with the hot chocolate which due to communications breakdown had not been made and Meg and I handed out the hot chocolate, fruit bread and presents in a reasonably organized fashion!!


The final chocolatada for Mysmallhelp was in partnership with the organisation Awamaki and took place in the remote village of Patacancha. Mysmallhelp took the presents in the Christmas mobile with the faithful driver Ruben and met the Awamaki team up in the stadium where they had hot chocolate which was prepared the night before by a Peruvian chef! The children all lined up for their hot chocolate and panetone and the presents were handed out in an orderly fashion!

In the end, Mysmallhelp provided chocolatadas and presents to over 2000 children, in excess of 1000 adults and one particularily friendly bloke with a trumpet!!! Although long hours and lots of preparing presents )especially blowing up those dam plastic balls seeing the children walking awat from the chocolatadas with big smiles on their faces playing with their presents definitely made the experience worth it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


By Helen Osborn, Mysmallhelp Peru volunteer, 20th December 2010

Two months ago I was saying see you soon to Leander, as I left to volunteer in Trujillo. Now that two months is up. Here I am again back in the beautiful town of Ollantaytambo. My original reason for coming here was to help Leander with the Christmas Chocolatadas she had planned to organize for over 3000 people, in the villages near (and far) from Ollantaytambo. However, when I arrived the week before the start of the Chocolatadas we had another pretty huge project to complete. Mysmallhelp had received a donation of 72 boxes of shoes from America by Desana inc. on behalf of Buckner international. A big thank you goes out to everyone involved especially to Sonia and
all of the volunteers at Living Heart that helped by receiving the delivery of the shoes and the movement of them from the Living Heart store room in Ollantaytambo to the Paskay volunteer house on Patacalle.

Mysmallhelp had a list of approximately 350 people due to receive the main portion of the shoes donated by Desana Giving and Buckner. In addition, Mysmallhelp received funding from Australian friends Victoria and David to purchase an additional 80 pairs of traditional sandals to be donated to members of the more remote communities
(Tastayoc and Patacancha) that had also been measured for shoes during the August health campaign. Matt and Leander had already travelled to Cusco and purchased the traditional ojota shoes and delivered them back to Ollanta. David, is the podiatrist that examined, treated and measured the feet of patients in villages surrounding Ollantaytambo. David and Victoria raised funds to purchase the traditional shoes for the remote communities as they agreed with the belief of Mysmallhelp that it wasn´t appropriate to donate Western shoes to these traditional communities. The shoes were donated as a Christmas present and way of saying thank you to the people that came to the health mission in August 2010.

Approximately 800 pairs of shoes were donated to Mysmallhelp! So yes we had A LOT of shoes to sort... Matt another volunteer who arrived here before me had already devised a system of allocating the correct sixed shoe to the right person, the system was brilliantly organized and with the help of Liliana (a member of the NGO Paskay) and Nelly (a volunteer from Desana Giving) we sorted the shoes reasonably quickly labelling each shoe with the name of the owner and separating piles of shoes to be distributed in each village. The shoes were distributed at five different village schools. The first was Phyri. We arrived at the school and organized the shoes into order; we then
called out the list and distributed the shoes numerically. It sounds like it should be a perfect system, however we all agreed Phyri was the most frustrating of all the schools. We repeatedly told the children to not touch the shoes as they had been laid out in order; however it is hard to control the children when their parents refuse to listen as well. The lack of education and discipline of the parents is unfortunately a reoccurring theme in the poorer areas of Peru. This then generally means that the discipline of the children suffers as well. To make things just a little trickier, unfortunately some of the people wanting shoes in Phyri were on the list for shoes from the next location Caticancha. It would have been a nightmare to unpack all the shoes for Caticacha in Phyri so we decided to take the people from

Pbyri due to receive shoes in Caticancha in our little mini bus... Needless to say the bus was pretty full! In Caticacha things were much more organized, the Director of the school took charge of our list and divided those who were on the list from those who were not, and this made distributing the shoes a great deal easier. When we arrived at the Pachar school there were no children to be seen as it was a fiesta so we had to resign to return another day...

The next day, on arrival up in the remote community of Patacancha the school was closed, however as always there were a

few children hanging around; one of them happened to have the keys to the school. Most of the children only spoke quechua, but luckily we had Ruben our trusty driver on hand to translate! Patacancha appeared to be an extremely traditional yet unfortunately poor town. The children were wearing clothes that were in some cases pieced together. The people of this village had requested traditional sandals, as the Director of the school was not around we went on a hunt for the next responsible adult to leave in charge of the shoes. We very luckily stumbled across the President of the community. He very happily took over our list and the shoes for those who were not at school that day. The President had been at the Dentist project and knew all about why we were giving the shoes so we all felt highly confident leaving distributing the rest in his hands. The remainder of the shoes were distributed to the allocated people at the schools in Pachar, Rumira and Tastayoc.

However, we still found ourselves with a large amount of shoes that needed distributing so we decided to make a donation to two other local projects in need of shoes for their communities. The first partner project was Awamaki, who are working to help the flood victims of the Huayroncoyocpampa community where many people lost their homes
in the January floods. We also made a donation to The Sacred Valley project which helps provide secondary education to young girls from families in the surrounding mountain villages.

Mysmallhelp distributed the remainder of the shoes directly from the Paskay volunteer house. The word spread quickly that we had shoes for distributing as we had given away a few pairs to our next door neighbours Chuchi and Libertad and their alcoholic mother. It didn’t take long for an extremely unordererd queue to form at our front door. The shoes went exceeding quickly, which is fantastic as they went to people who really need them.

Many thanks once again to everyone involved especially to George and Kathy at Desana Giving and their Buckner friends!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bring Christmas Cheer to the Andean Highlands: Mysmallhelp Peru’s Chocolatada

by Camden Luxford

Attentive readers will remember that back in February I was in the Sacred Valley for a day helping out at some of the communities badly affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding of earlier this year.

Image: Camden Luxford

Recently, I returned to one of them, just outside of Ollantaytambo. It was wonderful to see the newly constructed houses going up in solid brick instead of adobe, and to see the children again, swinging from the shoulders of tall English volunteer Matt and racing into position for photos.

Construction is slow, though, and several families are still living in tents as they piece their lives back together. And the rains have begun again. Christmas here will be cold and wet.

I was in Ollantaytambo visiting a friend, Leander Hollings, who is one of the organisers of a Christmas Chocolatada for this community, among others. I’ll be joining them on the 20th and the 21st, to distribute hot chocolate, panatones and small gifts to the children. We’ll be travelling with clowns and musicians, and having watched Leander dashing back and forth between Cusco and Ollantaytambo under the weight of endless pairs of shoes and finger-puppets, slowly going mad trying to get quotes for hot chocolate for thousands, I can’t wait to see it all come together for her, for her volunteers, and for the communities we’ll be visiting.

There is, however, still a lot to be done, and a lot of money to be raised. Please, I would love it if you could find a few dollars or pounds or yen or reales or soles to buy a cup of hot chocolate for an Andean child this Christmas. You can donate over at, and I can vouch that all the donations are going straight to a worthy cause.

Image: Camden Luxford

Alternatively, if you’re going to be in Cusco or the Sacred Valley during the next few weeks and would like to help out on the day, get in touch with me via the contact page and I’ll be happy to let you know the details.

Leander takes a break. Image: Camden Luxford

And don’t forget to pop back here to see the photos of how it all came out on the day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Children offer gift of hope and optimism

There was an abundance of festive cheer at Marybert School and Orphanage on Christmas day as more than a hundred people from the local community joined celebrations and entertainment at the church based in the school grounds.

The Marybert youngsters played a pivotal role demonstrating their singing and dancing talent, and generally spreading joy with their smiling faces. The church service, whilst a total mystery to me (because it was in Nepali which is not native language of Scotland!) was captivating. As I sat warmed by a huddle of girls from the orphanage (males and females tend to be segregated at times of worship) it occurred to me just how different this celebration was from my own days of regular church going. As a child I would sit in a church almost too cold to bear where complicated words and passages from the Bible would be shared with the congregation, but most of which I didn't understand. Here in Gwarko the stage is awash with animation and gesticulation. There are many smiles and knowing laughter. The congregation (and audience as we switch between concert to preaching) is energetically relaxed. There is clapping, and singing and much arm swaying. It's a beautiful atmosphere to be a part of and it reminds me just how special it is to have faith in your heart.

It's this faith that keeps us going when times are tough. It's the old saying that 'it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness' and that candle is what My Small Help lights day after day,and hopes to keep burning. We exist to help underprivileged children to carve a brighter future for themselves through education and satisfying their welfare needs. We adopt the festive 'It's better to give than to receive' adage. That said Christmas day is my birthday (Jo Young, MSH volunteer) and so the children take immeasurable delight in showering me with handmade birthday cards and drawings before singing Happy Birthday to me three times in English, and at least twice in Nepali. We share a beautiful heart shaped birthday cake together and I watch them smile and intently compare presents with each other (a generous gift from previous volunteer Kate Baker, UK). Thousands of pounds haven't been spent on these children, nor have hundreds; the gifts they received on Christmas day probably don't even amount to £10. The difference is that they have real value, and the feeling I had when spending time with them was priceless. Any happiness they have comes from within, and that is where MSH knocks gently at the door. We have faith and love for these children and so we invest your emotional support (that of course comes in the form of finance) in the children, and in return we watch them regulate their school attendance, improve their school grades, and have trust in what we can offer them.

As the sun begins to set in Gwarko everyone basks in what's left of the winter sunshine to enjoy their festive Daal Bhaat. The children and I watch them from the rooftop (we were front of the queue!). I glance around and see a desolate and inhospitable space. There are no toys, no playground equipment; just a few dusty and dirty pipes, concrete blocks, pieces of torn fabric and empty metal drums. It's hardly a playground and I want more for them. I ask one of the girls who brought me up here why it's her favourite space. Her answer is a lesson in perception, and one that I'm happy to retain: "Because the air is fresh and it's beautiful to look at the mountains [points to snow capped peaks]. You can see for miles from here and you can watch what's going on downstairs." I smile quietly to myself. She's got it in one; regardless of what surrounds you in life it's what you choose to see that really matters. My Small Help chooses to see the bigger picture, just like this young girl, and just like all of the sponsors and people who make donations. It's a vital reminder that I'll hold close, and one that I'm more than happy to share.