Malene Lingaard Kloster, 21, finished high school in Demark in 2011 and has been working and travelling ever since. She decided to volunteer as she wanted to try something new and thought it was a good way to see a different part of the world.
Malene opted to participate in the Care program and was placed in the kindergarten in Pachar, near the ancient Inca city of Ollantaytambo. This kindergarten has one class for children between 3 and 5 years of age. Malene found that the teacher could be “kind of strict and focused on work”, so she felt her role as a volunteer was to give the children more attention and bring more creative and new ideas to the classroom. Malene made use of the materials provided by Projects Abroad provided to make new resources for the class. Daily tasks included helping the teacher in the classroom, developing activities and resources, playing with the children and helping them with their work.
Malene feels she learned a lot during her time in Peru: obviously lots of Spanish, but also how to interact with children in a classroom environment – how to gain their respect and explain things to them. She found that, because many of the children came from homes where they do not receive much attention, she became an important part of their lives. “I think the creative ideas are an inspiration to the teacher” she says, “hopefully, bringing an element of fun to the activities instead of just having the kids [do] boring work sheets every day.”
What was most memorable for Malene was the experience of living with a host family. She found that she formed a real bond with them, that they could have fun together. They also helped her to learn about modern Peruvian culture, inviting her to ...
Behind the beautiful Andean scenery and enchanting traditional clothes lies a history of hardship, of cultivating only basic foods such as potatoes, of fighting to keep warm in the frigid nights at high altitude, and a constant struggle for survival.
Last year well over half a million children were identified as suffering from chronic malnutrition in Perú. This year 187 children under-3 have been identified as undernourished in the Urubamba region alone. Projects Abroad Perú has recently launched a volunteer program to support the local government efforts to reduce these numbers and give children in and around the Sacred Valley of the Incas a better start to life.
Working alongside the local municipality, Peruvian nutritionists, nurses and technicians, volunteers have already made an impact on the program, both giving, and assisting with workshops for mothers in the community of Ccotohuincho. The specially created Centro de Vigilancia is already stretched for capacity, with over 60 mothers and children regularly receiving healthy breakfasts and lunches, and a smaller group regularly attending the daily workshops.
The staff at the centre struggle to cope with demand and welcome the help volunteers provide, interacting and working with the mothers and children who often suffer from other problems such as domestic violence. With the education levels of participants ranging from those who only speak the native language of Quechua and are illiterate, to those with a smattering of English, volunteers have been pushed to keep workshops fun and relevant for all, but have jumped to the challenge!
Volunteers with a medical or nutritional background also accompany partner organisation staff as they do house-to-house visits. Here they ...
By Peru Projects Abroad Director: Tim de Winter
Volunteering is magical. Or at least it can be. Despite what you may believe, what you get out of volunteering doesn’t depend that much on the context, but more on the attitude you bring to the experience.
Some of our research shows that staying with a host family that has a nicer house, a higher income or that is closer to a work placement has no impact on the volunteer’s experience at all. Instead, our research suggests that the better the volunteer’s relationship with the other volunteers, staff and partner organizations, the happier they are. From general happiness studies we know that generosity trumps selfishness. As a volunteer you give your time and energy and some of your wealth and this makes you feel happier. Broader research has proven that the largest “happiness effect” is seen when people do positive things together with other people.
After 10 years of experience, I have become convinced that the essence of a good volunteering experience is to be found in the relationships you build with others. I believe this to be the fundamental starting point for the development of your experience. However, for volunteering to be magical, we need to take things further. There is no time for excuses, for saying that “the circumstances weren’t right”, or “I wasn’t here enough time” or even “I am a volunteer so I do not have to go to work today if I do not feel like it”. I believe the real focus point is your sincere commitment. What Projects Abroad Peru counts on is your belief, belief that you, in your time with us, can really do something for the lives of less fortunate people.
Not everyone is lucky enough to be born ...
Claire Conrad, 19 years old from Luxemburg, volunteered on the Inca Project during a break between school and university. She wanted to find out if archaeology was something she would like to study further. After 6 months in el Establo, she has returned to Europe to begin studying archaeology in Germany.
Clarie discovered that life in Huyro was not only about archaeology. Yes, she had the opportunity to participate in excavations, clear ruin sites, classify artefacts, learn about technical drawing and how to recognise the differences between the architectures of different cultures. But she also found there was plenty to do round the house – el Establo – as well as community work in the town of Huyro. Once a week, Claire and the other volunteers went to the library to run educational sessions with the children. “For all these tasks it is important to have enthusiastic volunteers, ready to participate and help,” she notes.
Despite the cultural differences between Luxembourg and Peru, Claire found it easy to adapt to the Peruvian way of thinking (“at least partly, a few things are just too weird”) and embrace the way of life on the project. “You have to be open-minded and be able to live without your normal standards; otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy the experience.”
For Claire, el Establo became a home she now misses more than she ever missed her home in Luxemburg. Since she has returned, the differences in lifestyle between Europe and Peru have become even more obvious to her. She formed good relationships with the staff at the project, as well as other volunteers and felt that she gained a lot from the experience.
“I learned quite a lot during my ...
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