The gala is over. We'd been working non-stop preparing for the gala since we arrived here.
Let me try to explain the gala.
The gala is an event that Ascender has every year (in Lima as well as Ecuador and Bolivia) to raise money locally to support their yearly programs; it usually consists of an introduction, awards and recognitions, dinner, musical guest, and auction. Unfortunately, Lima has struggled the most out of the three South American galas since they started having a gala in 2007, and usually are lucky to break even (this means selling enough entrance-tickets to make up for the costs to have the gala). This year they didn't break even. Their sights were set a little too high I think, and a lack of support/diligence/intelligence from the accountant was a major pitfall. The location in which the gala was held was a club/bar called Rompe y Raja- really cool place, but not meant to have galas, and WAY too expensive to rent (since when it is usually rented out, it's not meant for the renter to make a profit, just to have a party, get it?) also they raised the price on us last minute (a 19% tax!) and changed their minds about letting us earn money from alcohol purchases; all of which could have been avoided, or at LEAST understood earlier, if our accountant had done the things he said he was going to do and had kept current relations with the location that HE had insisted on for the gala, but oh well. So after coming to terms with the huge sum that we had to pay this club, we just crossed our fingers that people would come to Rompe y Raja just because it's a well-known club in Lima- not much luck, maybe ten people came just to come, and four of those left in a huff. Our program was supposed to start at 8, and nobody showed up until after 9- this may have been due to the fact that we're in South America, and that this certain club usually doesn't open until 10:30. Diana and I were put on ticket-duty, in a teeny room with a teeny ticket window for most of the night; scrambling to find people on the list, see if they had or hadn't paid, how much they were supposedly told they had to pay so we could charge them, then figuring out whether or not we were supposed to give them a dinner ticket or not, where they were supposed to sit, and how to communicate that to Jose Luis who was seating people. It was a mess to say the least. Haha, and on top of that, we have crappy math skills and were dealing with conversion between American Dollars and Peruvian Nuevo Soles.. where was our accountant at this time...? Good question.
So I started with the bad news so I could end with the good news- the really cool thing was, two local volunteers David and Jenny (who were really helpful the whole night) came in and took over for Diana and I so we could go eat around midnight. We got to watch Bartola sing, the food was delicious, and after the show we danced with the remaining people -just Ascender employees and spouses, ourselves, and friends from the neighborhood who had so graciously donated. We even got some employees to dance with us, it was really fun! Some more good news is that the auction went really well, and we also had silent donation slips which a few people donated with; these donations weren't enough to make us break even, but they helped! Also, throughout this whole preparatory gala process, we've been making connections with a lot of businesses who, although could not attend the gala, are very interested in donating equipment, materials, time and manpower to Ascender Peru. We are praying that the staff here will use these connections and build relationships with these companies. Why buy the materials for a school when you can have them donated??
I have a personal belief that everything happens for a reason, and even though the gala was not a success as far as raising funds goes, perhaps the future relations with these businesses will turn out to be worth more than we could have possibly made with the gala.
Diana, Taylor, Rob and I are leaving for Cuzco. In Cuzco we're going to Saqsaiwaman (sexy woman), Valle Sagrado, Oyllantaitambo, and Pisaq. Then we head to Aguas Calientes via train; it's the base town to Machu Picchu. Then the train back to Cuzco, and from Cuzco, a superlong bus ride to Puno where we'll visit Lake Titicaca, visit the floating islands, but stay on a real island for a couple nights, then take another bus to Juliaca where we'll catch our plane back to Lima. The trip is going to be packed with adventure, and I'm super stoked. I'm really grateful that Diana and I are going to be with the boys so we can do things that might be a little sketchier if it were just us two girls.
When we get back, Diana and I will only have a week left in Lima. We want to work our hardest to secure certain relations with certain businesses, then also we plan on doing as much hands-on work in Huaycan as possible.
I'll be coming home broke. Broke but happy. Happy to see my family, friends, and as some of you know, to see James for the first time in two years. I'm still lost as to where I'm going to be working, AND where I'm going to be living... Two really huge things.. but everything will work out. I just get lucky. Also, I have really great friends.
I hope you all know I love you. No matter where I am :)