We traveled to a village about 50 miles away from Cusco and visited a school. The population of this village was primarily indigenous and they did not have access to many “typical amenities”. As it was around Christmas, we made hot chocolate for the children and provided them with gifts. Seeing their faces light up was an absolute joy, and was by far my favorite experience during the program.
Whats was a daily schedule at the program, hours volunteered?
On an average day, one heads to their volunteering program at around 8:15 am to engage in a series of activities. During the duration of my stay, I worked at Hospital San Juan de Dios in Cusco. During a period of 4-8 hours, several volunteers and I took care of disabled children who stayed at the hospital. Our duties included looking after the children, feeding them, and playing with them. After work, one has time to explore the city of Cusco.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
- Host Family: I did not expect to live with a larger group of people at the home stay. This was an amazing opportunity to meet individuals with similar goals as well as to explore the surrounding region.
- Program: As someone who is aspiring to work in the medical field, it was wonderful to see how a hospital truly operates. One cannot help but compare and contrast it with Western medical standards. Being a part of such minutiae was rather eye-opening, and I am glad to have experienced this.
- Country: Peru was an incredibly wonderful and welcoming country! This was my first time in South America and I loved my time here. In addition to having natural beauty, the city of Cusco was rather clean and amazing to travel around. We also went to some remote regions of the country, full of lakes, emerald valleys, and towering mountains.
What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
- Host Family: I had no issues with the host family; Maria Elena was incredibly welcoming and accommodating. In addition to cooking some wonderful dishes, she recommended plenty of restaurants around the city. She kept a clean and orderly household that was relaxing to come to after work. Overall, staying with Maria Elena was a wonderful experience.
- Program: My primary issue was initially communicating with the nurses as I am not well versed in Spanish medical vocabulary. However after a few visits it wasn’t a huge issue.
- Country: My Spanish is rather unrefined, so that was a bit of a hassle. Besides that, I regret only staying in Peru for one week!
Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, money, internet)
Having about 600 soles per week was plenty for extra food, travel, and souvenirs. Make sure to bring extra cash if you’re interested in going to Machu Picchu, which I would highly recommend. Internet can be rather difficult to come by, so I would recommend investing in an international plan.
Other things volunteers should know before coming here (besides Spanish):
- Host Family: Make sure to respect the rules in placed by the host family.
- Program: Be sure to keep at open mind as customs vary by region. In Peru, one can say the people are more lax, which can be a culture shock to Westerners.
- Country: Peru is a wonderful country and you won’t regret visiting!
Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
As someone interested in the medical field, ABV immediately piqued my interested. Working hands on at a hospital was absolutely incredible, one can truly make a difference, even on such a small scale. Being in Peru also helped me expand my Spanish skills and provided a renewed interest in the language (as I haven’t taken a Spanish class since high school). The people here were very genial and welcoming. During the time I fell in love with South America and hope to return soon.
How would you describe your accommodation: meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
- Meals: Maria provided breakfast and lunch, and I usually had dinner in Cusco proper. The meals consisted of traditional Peruvian cuisine, which were excellent.
- Security: Her home was in a safe neighborhood next to the university and very close to the hospital I worked at. This area boasted several restaurants and cafes, which I often frequented. Centro Historico is about 1.3 miles away, which is 20 mins by foot and 5 mins by taxi.
- friendliness: The host Maria Elena was very warm hearted. The other volunteers I stayed with were friendly and open minded.
- Quality: It was a very clean and spacious accommodation with plenty of modern amenities like a hot shower and Internet.
How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country: Airport, orientation, introduction to the program, schedule of the program, friendliness, solving problems?
Maria Elena picked us up on time and proceeded to give us an introduction to the program as well as the city of Cusco. The program itself was incredibly interesting and well paced. Working alongside the nurses to help the children was a truly eye opening experience.
Whats was a daily schedule at the program, hours volunteered, activities you did?
On an average day, one heads to their volunteering program at around 8:15 am to engage in a series of activities. During the duration of my stay, I worked at Hospital San Juan de Dios in Cusco. During a period of 4-8 hours, several volunteers and I took care of disabled children who stayed at the hospital. Our duties included looking after the children, feeding them, and playing with them. After work, one typically has time to explore the city of Cusco. I had a wonderful tine seeing the central area as well as outlying areas. Cusco is a lively town with beautiful architecture, kind people, and delicious food. One also had plenty of time to explore the rest of Peru. I had a wonderful opportunity seeing Machu Picchu and the surrounding countryside.
What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
- Accommodation: I enjoyed staying with a large group of individuals with similar aspirations. In addition to volunteering together, we also got to explore Cusco.
- Program: We traveled to a village about 50 miles away from Cusco and visited a school. The population of this village was primarily indigenous and they did not have access to many “typical amenities”. As it was around Christmas, we made hot chocolate for the children and provided them with gifts. Seeing their faces light up was an absolute joy, and was by far my favorite experience during the program.
- Country: Seeing Machu Picchu was incredible. The train ride there was very scenic and although the hike was strenuous, it was very worthwhile. Overall, I enjoyed being in South America much more than I expected.
How was the ABV USA support prior traveling? Emails, chat online, calls, volunteer guide:
The ABV support was incredibly accessible. They provided trip details in a timely manner and responded very quickly to any questions I sent them.
What do you think about the reservation system online?
The online system worked very well, I was able to arrange the trip without any issues. The interface was straight forward and provided information with no hassle.
Who did you find Abroaderview website?
I had been looking for a reputable organization to work with for several months. Abroaderview was mentioned to me by a volunteer coordinator at my university. They told me it was an excellent opportunity to work abroad and this immediately piqued by interest.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes! I had an incredible time with ABV and would highly recommend the organization. I would love to speak to any potential volunteers.