Peru volunteering

Peru Infopack

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Intro
Program Overview
Program Schedule and Location
Accommodation and Food

Intro

We would like to thank you for the work that you are about to embark on. It is appreciated that you are giving so much with your contribution of time and funds to the program.

We have developed a partnership with a local organisation in order to supply international volunteers to assist with the development of local communities in need in Peru. You will be working directly with our partner organisation in Cusco, Peru.

Peru is a land of contrasts, where from one end to the other you will have quite different experiences, not only with regards to the environment and climate, but also with culture and food, for example. We have made this guide as specific to the program as possible to give you an accurate and useful picture of how the volunteer program operates. If you wish to travel further within Peru this would be an opportune time to do so; however, we recommend that you look into purchasing your own guidebook for travel as this guide will not provide you with enough detail to assist you outside of the volunteer program.

Take a journey through Cusco, Peru - the Unesco World Heritage Site lined with archaeological sites where you can travel up the Inca Trail to arrive at the famous Machu Picchu.

While having beautiful surroundings, there are also many impoverished areas where children meet in community centres and basic nurseries to have basic education and care. Many of these buildings have poor infrastructure and don't encourage a fun learning environment.

Our partner works with the local communities throughout Antigua to assist the renovation work needed at the surrounding nurseries and community centres. This work is made possible through volunteers assisting local foremen and contributing to better buildings throughout these communities.

Without your help, these areas that facilitate the basic education and much needed care for children from very low income communities won't be able to have their buildings improved they way they should be.

This is a practical, hands on role where you will assist the renovation and basic construction work being done and literally get your hands dirty! Be prepared for fun, laughter, and practical work as you build meaningful friendships with other volunteers as well as the local community you will be working alongside.

The construction projects generally take place at small rural schools, community centres and orphanages. You will be volunteering at a construction project in or around Cusco. Construction projects include renovation work (painting, plastering and repairs) and full construction (making adobe bricks, masonry, laying tile and plumbing). The building projects are to help the community improve their schools and community centres. Be prepared to be very patient and flexible, and to get your hands and clothes very dirty. All construction projects are led by a professional Spanish speaking foreman who is experienced in guiding and training international volunteers.

Please note construction volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring work gloves, work boots, safety glasses and clothes that you do not mind getting dirty. Please understand that there will be very little equipment available, so volunteers will need to bring their own safety gear. Also note that clothes should keep you simultaneously warm during cold or rainy mornings and cool during sunny afternoons. Dressing in layers and being prepared for the elements is important.

Program Overview

Childcare

At childcare placements volunteers assist the children with their homework, organise educational activities and provide the children with love and attention. The children at the projects we work with require a lot of care, attention and most importantly, companionship, and most of our projects work with severely underprivileged children. Volunteers are encouraged to use their skills and interests to develop workshops such as in music and dance, jewellery making, sports, aerobics and arts & crafts for example.  

There are many different childcare placements available in Cusco, including working at orphanages, schools and after-school programs in needy communities, homes for abused children, community centres and working with street children at shelters. There is also the possibility to work at a school for children and young adults with Down syndrome. Please expect your placement to feel disorganised and underfunded, yet the children are always happy to see you and are very welcoming to our volunteers. If you have an area which you are particularly interested in please let us know, although it will depend on availability and local need as to which project you will be placed.

Some placements have a "Learning Station" set up where you can support children in learning English and perform basic tutoring. Some placements may ask you to use your English skills to teach one 45 minute lesson per week.

We have compiled a children’s program guide book to help you prepare for working with children as a volunteer. Please keep in mind that it is a general guide for all our placements working with children across many countries – not all sections will be relevant to your particular placement. Take the time to read over this – you may even like to print out a copy and take it with you to refer to while you’re volunteering. If, on your return, there’s anything you think we should edit or add, please just let your volunteer coordinator know.

Teaching English

At English teaching placements volunteers assist staff with speaking, listening, writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary lessons. Volunteers may also be asked to help with specific learners in terms of their pronunciation and for one-on-one tutoring. You may be placed in English Learning Rooms, community centres, orphanages,shelters and afterschool care programs. The people at these projects come from low income families and cannot afford to study English at a private institute.  Please note that from December to March schools are closed in Peru, however volunteers are able to be placed at alternative teaching placements.

Please expect your placement to feel disorganised and underfunded at times, and this is why you are required. Lesson plans are not provided to you, however our partner organisation provides ample materials, books, an ESL crash training course, and lesson ideas to get you started.

Schools close starting late December until mid-March/beginning of April - during this time, placements will be at non-school project.

Construction

The construction projects generally take place at small rural schools, community centres and orphanages. You will be volunteering at a construction project in or around Cusco. Construction projects include renovation work (painting, plastering and repairs) and full construction (making adobe bricks, masonry, laying tile and plumbing). The building projects are to help the community improve their schools and community centres. Be prepared to be very patient and flexible, and to get your hands and clothes very dirty. All construction projects are led by a professional Spanish speaking foreman who is experienced in guiding and training international volunteers.

Please note construction volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring work gloves, work boots, safety glasses and clothes that you do not mind getting dirty. Please understand that there will be very little equipment available, so volunteers will need to bring their own safety gear.  Also note that  clothes should keep you simultaneously warm during cold or rainy mornings and cool during sunny afternoons. Dressing in layers and being prepared for the  elements is important.

Healthcare

Based on availability you will be placed at either a small clinic in Cusco or you will work with our partner organisation’s Medicina para los Andes program. Clinics are part of the national health care system in Peru and provide both primary and emergency care to low-income families. Clinics receive approximately 180 patients per day, 10 to 20 of which are emergencies. You will be working alongside approximately 12-15 doctors and 5-7 nurses.

In the Medicina para los Andes program, our partner organisation manages basic healthcare and health campaigns for many orphanages in the Cusco area, and some rural community centers for adults. Volunteers work alongside and shadow a bi-lingual doctor and provide check-ups, general care and physiotherapy for up to 80-100 children.

Medical volunteers should understand that independence in medical projects will always be determined by:

•    Level of training and demonstrated expertise
•    Spanish level
•    Age
•    Personality and ability to take initiative
•    Duration of program

Pre-medical, 1st and 2nd Year Medical Students

Volunteers in this category will participate in:

a)    Triage (measuring weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature)
b)    Hospital Wards  (Making beds, cleaning, and talking with patients)
c)    Materials  (Preparing materials and sterilizing equipment)

Note: You are required to bring your own basic medical supplies, including white coat, scrubs and stethoscope. Notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required. You will need to bring this with you to the office in Cuzco when you have your orientation.

3rd and 4th Year Medical School & Licensed Professionals

Volunteers in this category will participate in:

a) Topico (Cleaning rooms, giving injections and sutures)
b) Consultation (Assisting doctors with physicals and taking medical histories)
c) Campaigns (Giving vaccinations, taking medical histories and drawing blood samples)

Note: You are required to bring your own basic medical supplies, including white coat, scrubs and stethoscope. Prior to your arrival you may be required to provide copies of your training and credentials.

Non-medical volunteers (Healthcare Disabled Project)

Volunteers will be based at a clinic that provides treatment to mentally and physically disabled children. The clinic is also home to very young babies. There are both dining facilities and a school on site for the children.

Volunteers work with the children organising arts and crafts, playing with them in the on-site playground, assisting with physical therapy and helping the children during meal times. Volunteers will also help the children with personal hygiene including going to the bathroom, brushing their teeth and bathing.

Please take special note that conditions at this project can be very emotionally trying. Volunteers should prepare themselves mentally and emotionally to work one-on-one with severely disabled children. 

Note: You are required to bring your own scrubs.

Conservation/Wildlife

Jungle Conservation

In these projects, both which are based in the Amazonian Rainforest, you will be involved in various types of work depending on the current needs of the project. The primary work areas are reforestation, greenhouse development, maintenance of trails and lodges and wildlife inventories. Working in reforestation includes planting trees, shrubs and orchids as well as removing non-native and invasive species of bamboo. Wildlife inventories include observing and counting various species of birds and primates. Please note that during rainy days work may be limited and may include repairs at the lodge and/or working with the local school. Volunteers can also get involved in teaching English at the local school following their regular work.

Location 1: Atalaya - This project is at roughly 2300m above sea level and is usually where short term volunteeers (1 week-4 weeks) are located.
Location 2: Puerto Maldonado - This project is located just 180m above sea level and is generally where our longer term volunteers (2 months and over) are located.

Note: Jungle volunteers will NOT be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their time in the jungle. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project though, this may include additional costs for housing.

Note: At both Jungle projects it is required to purchase a toiletry kit upon arrival.  The kit cost is US$16.  In the kit, the following bio-degradable toiletry is included: shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and insect repellent.  During your program in the jungle, these are the products you will need to use and not any foreign products brought with you. You should also bring sunscreen but please make sure it is 100% bio-degradable. 

Andean Cultural Immersion

You will be volunteering in a small village in the Andes Mountains outside of Cusco, Peru. This project provides an income source for small communities and promote cross cultural understanding.

Volunteers have the option of being involved in the following activities:

Agriculture - As an agriculturally based community the most common crops are potatoes, corn, and quinoa. Volunteers assist with planting, harvesting, storing and transporting crops.  Volunteers also work with the animals in the community, including herding, pasturing, feeding, cleaning pens, and collecting food. Work will vary depending on the needs of the season and weather conditions. In addition, the Andean culture often includes some division of labor by gender, so your assigned tasks may vary.

Textiles - Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about traditional weaving skills and natural dyes by working with the women who create traditional textile products to sell at local markets.

Construction - Volunteers help mix and form adobe bricks and construct adobe homes and buildings within the community. Work is dependent on the needs of the community; there may not be a construction project going on during your program.

Education - Volunteers may have the opportunity to assist in teaching English classes and take an active role in educating the local children. Your involvement in this will require self motivation, and will also depend on the interest and availability of community members to participate, as well as the time of year.

Important to Note:
Due to the extremely rural setting of this project volunteers should expect the accommodations and meals to be very basic. For example, running water is at times unreliable and hot water is unavailable. You can expect bathing and bathroom/hygiene facilities to be much less modern than you are accustomed to. Sometimes bathing is done using a bucket of water. We recommend bringing your own toilet paper, which can be purchased in Cusco before you go to your project.

Volunteers are expected to take part in local festivities and community gatherings.

It is also very important to note that no English is spoken at this project. The first language in this community is Quechua, not Spanish, though Spanish is spoken as a second language. Despite the language barrier, it is possible to have a full and complete experience, though it is critical that you approach your project with this knowledge in mind. The community is very warm and welcoming to all volunteers.

The nearest village is approximately 15 minutes from your project site and approximately 1.5 hours from Cusco. This makes Cusco very accessible for weekend excursions and nightlife.

Note: Volunteers will NOT be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their project. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project, though this may include additional costs for housing. 

 

 

Christmas & New Year Project 

Give back this season by traveling to Peru and immersing yourself in a unique culture. While staying with a local host family, you will have the opportunity to have a taster of some of the projects our partner organization works with to support. You can join for just the one week, or for both weeks. Have a read below of the itinerary to get an idea of what each week will look like!

Note: Private transportation from the headquarters office to the project and back to the office every day is included in your program fee. Due to the way the dates work with the 2017 calendar, the program will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. You can use this as free time to explore the city!

 

CHRISTMAS WEEK (DECEMBER 24 - 30)

Sunday, December 24 – Arrival and Orientation

Arrival day! Once you arrive at the airport the team will pick you up and take you to the host family you will be with for the duration of your program. In the afternoon/evening, you will have an orientation at the headquarters office with the other volunteers. The team will show you how to make your way to the office.

Monday, December 25 – Christmas Day

The Headquarters Office and projects will be closed on this day. Use this time to explore the sights Cusco has to offer!

Tuesday, December 26 – Childcare Project

It's time to start volunteering and what better way to kick it off than with a Christmas party! Show the children at the centre a great time for the holiday! Celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project, and spend time doing actiivties with the kids giving them the love, attention and comapnionship they deserve!

Wednesday, December 27 – Construction

Today you will begin helping out at the construction project. You will be involved in a range of tasks including painting, gardening or working in light repairs on construction. The exact project you will get involved with will depend on the need in the community at the time. This will be communicated at your ori

Thursday, December 28 - Construction

Continue volunteering at the construction site for the day.

Friday, December 29 - Andean Immersion

Travel to the Andes mountains where you will spend the day immersing yourself in this unique culture, and helping out with the medical campaign. Some of the tasks you will get involved with include providing checkups to the locals, and educating them on topics like personal hygiene, sexual education and dental care.

Saturday, December 30 - Departure

You will have had so many memories made with those you volunteered with, the family you lived with, and most importantly those at the projects you came to work with! Today is departure day. While the airport drop off is not included, you/ can arrange a drop off for an additional charge at the client service desk - just ask the team!

 

NEW YEARS WEEK (DECEMBER 31 2017 - JANUARY 6 2018)

Sunday, December 31 - Arrival and Orientation

For those taking part in the New Years week only, welcome to Peru! This is your arrival day. The team will meet you at the Cusco airport and take you to the host family you will be living with. In the afternoon/evening you will have an orientation at the headquarters office.

Monday, January 1 - New Years Day

Happy New Year! Spend the day getting to know those around you, and exploring some of the beautiful sights Cusco has to offer! The headquarters office and the projects will be closed on this day so there won't be any volunteering.

Tuesday, January 2 - Dog Shelter

The volunteering begins! Start off your volunteering by visiting the local dog shelter and help the dog care campaign. You will assist at the shelter and provide baths, grooming, walking, and general care for the animals.

Wednesday, January 3 - Andean Immersion

Get ready to immerse yourself in a unique culture as you travel to the Andes mountaints and take part in the Andean Cultural Immersion project. Today you will be helping with the medical campaign. You will help provide checkups to locals and educate them on topics such as personal hygiene, sexual education, and dental care.

Thursday, January 4 - Andean Immersion

Continue your stay in the Andes and spend time with the rural communties there. You will help out in a very rural community with their daily work. Activities include weaving, farming, cooking, and a range of other tasks! 

Friday, January 5 - Childcare Project

This will be your final day of volunteering. Today you will have an outing with the kids! Depending on the weather and what kind of activity the kids need, help bring the kids to a park or other outing to get some fresh air and have a little holiday fun!

Saturday, January 6 - Departure

This is the departure day. I'm sure you will have made a lot of memories during your time volunteering, and also with the family you stayed with! While airport drop-off is not included, the in-country team can arrange this for you at an additional charge so have a chat to the team about it!

 

Program Schedule and Location

Schedule

Volunteers need to arrive on the Sunday before any Monday of the month. You can choose which start date suits you best. On your arrival you will be picked up by a member of the in-country staff at the airport and taken to your accommodation.

The next day you will have an orientation session at our partner organisation's headquarters. This includes a PowerPoint presentation about our partner organisation, the program, and general information about living in Peru. You will also be given an info sheet relating to the meeting, which includes information on your volunteer project (schedule, contact person, location, how to get there etc.) and your Spanish class schedule. All volunteers are provided with a pocket-sized card with our partner's emergency telephone numbers. You will then visit your project with a staff member, who will show you how to use public transportation. You will be introduced to the staff at your project (who will have your details), and you will be able to discuss your role at the project in more detail with the staff.

For volunteers on the Andean Cultural Immersion program, you will spend your first couple of nights in Cusco with a host family, before travelling to your project. In regards to the location of your placement, you will not be able to take Spanish lessons, but you will be taken to your projects and accommodation in the Sacred Valley after the orientation. If you would like to take Spanish lessons, you can stay an extra week in Cusco. Please note that extra charges for accommodation apply.

For Jungle Conservation volunteers going to Contachaka (Atalaya) it is strongly advised that you arrive in Cusco before noon on Sunday, so that orientation can take place Sunday afternoon. This allows volunteers to take early buses to their Amazon locations on Monday morning. For volunteers going to ITA, you will have orientation on Monday and leave Monday night.

Volunteers in Cusco will help at their project for about 3-4 hours every day (Mondays to Fridays).

Interns in Cusco will work at their project for about 4 - 6 hours every day (Monday to Fridays). Alongside this, interns complete their written (final deliverables and evaluation) work as well.

For all volunteers involved with off-site conservation projects, you will return to Cusco on the Friday of your final week and will spend your final night in a homestay family in the city.

Placement Location

Volunteers are placed in Cusco and, for the Andean Cultural Immersion, the Sacred Valley. Jungle Conservation volunteers are based in one of two Amazon locations (Atalaya - Highland jungle or Puerto Maldonado - Lowland jungle).

Cusco is a city in south-eastern Peru, near the Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley) of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. The city has a population of about 300,000 and an altitude of around 3,500 m (11,500 feet). Cusco is the historical capital of the Inca Empire and is the gateway to "the lost city" of Machu Picchu. There are still remains within the city of the palace of the Incas, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located about 10 miles north of Cusco and extends northwest through Pisac and Ollantaytambo. 

The Peruvian Amazon covers roughly 60% of the entire country and ranges from the foothills of the Andes to the lowland rivers of the Amazon Basin, ranging between 80m-3800m above sea level. It is considered one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. Volunteers in the Jungle programs will travel to their locations by bus. In-depth information on this will be given to you during your orientation session in Cusco.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

Volunteers based in Cusco will be accommodated in a traditional homestay, living with other volunteers in a Peruvian home. The host families have been carefully selected with volunteers in mind and have almost all had experience hosting volunteers in the past. All houses have electricity, running water, and a western-style toilet but usually have no central heating. You may want to bring a sleeping bag or blanket for extra warmth at night. You will eat meals with the family. Your laundry can often be done by the host family for a small fee (charged $5 per kg).

Our partner organisation asks all volunteers to observe the following rules at the homestay accommodation:

1. Breakfast is served at 7:00am; lunch at between 12:00 and 1:00 (NB: lunches no longer included from 2015 onwards); and dinner at 7:00pm. If you are unable to attend one of the meals please tell your host family. Meals can also be wrapped for take-away or saved for late arrival.

2. Please note that meals are included, however snacks are not. Please do not 'raid the fridge' or prepare your own meals independently. If you would like to store some of your snacks please let us know.

3. Please do not smoke in your room or anywhere else in the house. 'Insistent smokers' will be asked to leave the accommodation immediately without refund.

4. Drugs are strictly forbidden. Guests consuming drugs or with drugs in their possession will be reported to Peruvian authorities and will be asked to leave the program immediately without refund.

5. Overnight guests are strictly forbidden.

6. Friends are not permitted in your room.

7. Please do not use the washing machine. Laundry service is provided in-house including wash, iron & fold for a small fee.

8. Please do not remove anything from the house including towels, blankets, pillows, etc.

9. Your keys must be returned in-person. If they are not returned you are charged a $25 (USD) replacement fee and any certificates and/or letters of appreciation related to your program with us will be delayed.

For volunteers on the Andean Cultural Immersion program you will stay in Cusco for the first couple of nights to receive your orientation. Conditions for this program will be more rustic then for those in Cusco. In Cusco, you will be staying in a traditional family-stay where you will be placed with a pre-approved middle class Peruvian family. Breakfast and dinner are included in your home stay. You will be provided with a key to the house and are free to come and go as you please, however, you must respect the routine and house rules of the family.

At your project, the setting is very rural and the houses are made of adobe bricks. You will be living with a typical Andean-Quechua speaking farming family. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in your stay; meals are basic and made from locally available ingredients.

While all of your meals are provided, you may consider taking some of your favorite snacks along with you, since the meals may not provide a lot of variety. There are small stores in the nearest village (15 minutes away) where you can buy snacks as well.

We also recommend bringing along books, small musical instruments, or games to entertain yourself in the evenings. Please remember there is no internet and limited phone signal where you will be staying.

Please note that the family lives a very simple life together with their children and pets. They also raise guinea pigs at home.

Andean culture has different standards of hygiene than other cultures. Be sure to bring antibacterial cream in case you get any minor scratches, and purchase your own toilet paper as sometimes this is not used. Temperatures can vary so be ready for the possibility of head colds. Make sure you take care of yourself and eat plenty and take your vitamins.

Laundry: There are no laundry facilities available at the Andean Immersion project. Be prepared to hand-wash your clothes and dry them in the sun. If you have a free weekend, you can also take your clothes to Cusco to have them washed. 

For volunteers on the Jungle Conservation program you will be housed either in same sex bunkhouses or a mixed-sex dormitory, depending on the location. Linens and mosquito nets are provided, volunteers should bring their own towels. These locations are remote and electricity is either limited to a generator for a few hours in the evening at one location, to no electricity at all at the other. Please also note that numbers at this project vary throughout the year, with periods of time where there may only be a couple or one volunteer. If this is a concern for you, please let us know and we can refer you to a project in Cusco where the majority of our volunteers are based.

Important to note: Details on the homestay family you have been allocated will be given after you have arrived in-country. We are unable to confirm this with volunteers prior to their arrival in-country for a couple of reasons. Firstly, our partner organization has a confidentiality agreement with each of the local homestay families which means that for privacy reasons, they are unable to give out details of the homestay families prior to volunteers arriving.

The second reason is that the family you have been allocated is subject to change. Often volunteers will choose to extend their stay while on placement. This means the staff need to quickly adapt to the change and it could mean that a volunteer yet to arrive needs to be placed with a different family.

Each of the families are middle class, local Peruvian homes and they will be providing your breakfast and dinner. There have been great reviews about the families from past volunteers and it’s going to be a great cross cultural experience! 

Food

Volunteers at homestay accommodation are provided two meals daily. This will be typical Peruvian fare, simple but hearty. If you have any special dietary requirements (vegetarian etc) please let us know well in advance so we can inform your host family. We cannot guarantee a Kosher diet.

For those in the Jungle Conservation program, please note that the Atalaya location serves vegetarian meals only. Meals at the Puerto Maldonado location include meat and vegetarian options.

For volunteers on the Conservation Jungle project and the Andean Cultural Immersion project, 3 meals daily will be provided while you are at your project. While you are in Cusco (both prior to travelling to your placement, and on the Friday when you return), you will have 2 meals daily provided.