BETHANY IN PERU
My name is Bethany and I spent two months living in the small village of Pachacamac, Peru alongside volunteering in a school for children aged 2-5 as well as helping out in a local orphanage.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND FAMILY LIFE
I arrived late at night and sitting in the back of a taxi, driving through the dark streets of Lima was a little scary! On my way to my host family I was so scared – seeing all the half-finished houses which I suspected had no water and fearing two months of no showering! However, when I arrived at my home the family welcomed me in with hugs and a cup of tea and, although exhausted, I knew that I would be well looked after… I was right!My family consisted of a family of five, although there were always cousins and aunts and uncles around the house… always busy and always someone to talk to which was great. Although busy, they all made sure I had everything I needed and took time out of their days to sit and talk to me during dinner and also taking me places at the weekends. I am so glad I lived with a family and experienced the ‘real Peru’ and they also provided comfort for me, knowing what to expect when I went ‘home’ from the Projects each day
Most of my time in Peru was spent working in a local school which was run by some nuns. The children I worked with were only young, so mainly it involved painting, playing games and just making sure they weren’t getting up to too much mischief. This was all great fun and seeing the children laughing and learning was a really great experience. Then after a three course lunch every day (can’t complain at all about not being fed well) I was involved with preparing activities for the children and visiting local families, taking them provisions and generally just having a chat. For a small amount of time I was also involved in working at a local orphanage. During this time I was involved in helping the children with their homework and generally just giving them the love and attention they so badly desired. This was the hardest part of the project as it was frustrating – as a ‘Westerner’ we aren’t used to seeing the conditions that those children experienced. Sure, the staff at the orphanage were doing the best they could, and the children were happy, but it was still difficult knowing that there were many other children like them in Peru and definitely an eye opener!
WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO WHEN I’M NOT VOLUNTEERING
When I wasn’t volunteering I went travelling around Peru with other volunteers that I met in the projects – cue a visit to Machu Picchu and a break from speaking in Spanish! I also spent time with my family, helping them prepare for the many Fiestas they had as well as just spending down time relaxing with a book in a local café.
THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT LIVING & VOLUNTEERING IN PERU IS…
the pace of life is very different and so things may feel slow which can be very frustrating. However you do get used to this quickly!
THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING AND VOLUNTEERING IN PERU IS….
You learn all about and get fully immersed in that culture. It’s a bit of a shock when you get home and no one here knows about the traditional dances and music you have been exposed to for your whole trip abroad. I can definitely recommend volunteering abroad. You learn so much about another culture and another way of life as well as having great fun and feeling satisfied that you have contributed to making a difference (even if it is as small as simply making a child laugh). Have fun!