Peru Community Project volunteer stories
Read what previous volunteers to Globalteer's Peru Communty Project have to say about their experiences in Cusco and Oropesa (children's names have been changed to protect their privacy).
You can read about some our volunteers' fundraising endeavours in our Volunteers' Fundraising Hall of Fame
“Volunteering in Peru was such an incredible, rewarding experience! The only thing I would change is the amount of time we were there – I would have loved to volunteer there longer!” - Sophia, year 11 student, Peru Community project.
In August 2016, 15 year 10 and 11 students and teachers from Pipers Corner School in the UK, volunteered at our Peru Community Project. It was a life-changing week, where the students experienced a tailor-made cultural and volunteering programme at they project. They assisted with teaching English, Math, Geography, Art and sport at the project and also did a tour of the historical Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley sites. Have a read of their inspirational stories here: Emma
, Deputy Head Georgia
, student Sophia
, student Mia
“Volunteering here was an amazing and rewarding experience that I’d highly recommend to anyone. Just do it. You can’t help but fall in love with the place and the people, and you’re guaranteed to leave with some of your greatest memories.”Maria is a teacher from Ireland who volunteered for two weeks at the Peru Community Project in July 2015.
I wanted to volunteer abroad for a long time and researched loads of different projects. Globalteer stood out amongst the rest as it looked and sounded like an interesting, safe, well-run and best of all, fun project.
Volunteering with the children
My experience was even more than I could have hoped for! I worked for two weeks in the afterschool programme as a ‘happy helper’ supporting the local teachers. If you love children, you’ll love this project. My time at the project included sitting on the floor playing Lego with the infant children, reading English stories to non-English speaking children (which was particularly interesting with lots of hand signs and actions needed, but they loved it), building a ‘Rio Grande’ in the sandpit, playing volleyball or soccer, making art and craft headbands, or playing in the sandpit again (they really love it)! Two weeks just wasn’t enough time with these amazing children.
There was so much I loved about the project. The children seem so happy and positive and really have so much fun with what little they have. They appreciate the little things and this is something I’ve brought home with me and hope to instil in the children in my class.
It was great to see the teachers are promoting a healthy eating policy by giving the children a piece of fruit and every day.
A special and rewarding experience
The office staff and teachers are a dedicated, eager and enthusiastic bunch of people who really are doing amazing and inspirational work. I was supported by the Globalteer and project staff from the second I arrived in Cusco to the very last day. Whether it was greeting me at the airport, showing me around the city, or answering every single question I had (no matter how big or small), they were there for me.
Volunteering here was an amazing and rewarding experience that I’d highly recommend to anyone. Just do it. You can’t help but fall in love with the place and the people, and you’re guaranteed to leave with some of your greatest memories.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Go n-éirí an t-ádh libh.
“There aren't many chances to go and do something like this, and what you can personally take out of it is indescribable.”David Green is a student at the University of London’s Royal Holloway College who volunteered at Globalteer’s Peru Community Project in July and August 2015.
Looking for the right organisation
I wanted to volunteer with an organisation that actually cared about making a difference instead of a profit. Globalteer provided that possibility perfectly due to the fact that they are registered charity. Furthermore the possibility of learning Spanish alongside my volunteering, and being able to live in a homestay really excited me, and gave me the rounded experience I was looking for.
Before going I was of course nervous as I was travelling to a country that I had never visited before and whose first language is not one I was able to communicate in perfectly. However, I felt that the information provided by the Globalteer team in Peru was incredibly useful in helping me to prepare for what I was going to be doing during my time in Cusco.
Making a difference at the project
The project was amazing. To be able to help out at somewhere that truly cares about providing a service to children in that situation was honestly incredible for me. The staff were also all amazing.
For the most part I helped the teachers and staff with their lessons for the children, whether it was in English, art, kindergarten or sport. I also helped to look after the project site by gardening and watering, and cleaning out some of the classrooms.
The best thing about volunteering was being able to help children who need it, and forming connections with them. It’s very easy to become blasé about the life we have in England, but when you go out and help at a project like the Peru Community Project you realise just how lucky we are, and therefore being able to make a difference first hand – even if only for one month – is amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity. Experiencing the sights of Peru
I visited Machu Picchu, as well as some of the other Inca ruins around Cusco. Although I was not able to trek to Machu Picchu, even getting the train there was incredible. It was possibly one of the most breath-taking things I have seen in my life, and is something that will stay with me forever. For anyone thinking about volunteering in Peru …
I would say to anyone thinking about volunteering that they absolutely should take the opportunity and grab it with both hands. There aren't many chances to go and do something like this. What you can personally take out of it is indescribable, and what you are able to give back to the people at the project is huge as well!
You too can have a rewarding experience like David by getting involved at the Peru Community Project
"I cannot thank the staff and children at the project, or the staff at Globalteer enough for this life changing experience ..."
Lauren is a student from the USA who volunteered at the Peru Community Project
in May and June 2015. Here, she talks about her experience at the after-school programme supporting local children in their education. Looking for the right project
I have always loved working with children, travelling, and participating in new and exciting adventures. When it came time to fulfill my university internship credit for my undergraduate degree in International Studies I decided to look for an international volunteer position. I chose Globalteer because the organisation’s wonderful staff worked with me to make sure I was able to fulfill my internship requirements while working for the Peru Community Project.
A rewarding experience
My time at the project was an extremely rewarding experience. The director of the project was absolutely amazing and allowed me to contribute a lot to the school’s arts and craft lessons and kindergarten classes because I showed interest in both areas. By offering me the chance to work where I felt the most comfortable, my time became more rewarding for the children and for myself.
I am so grateful to have come across such a well-run and friendly organisation that allowed me to not only fulfill my university requirements, but also granted me the ability to work with amazing children, and still spend my weekends touring Peru.
I cannot thank the staff and children at the project, or the staff at Globalteer enough for this life changing experience. I look forward to working with Globalteer again in a number of their other projects and would recommend the same to anyone who asked.
You too can have a rewarding experience like Lauren by getting involved at the Peru Community Project
"Sitting there observing the children against a panoramic backdrop of mountains and a sun setting on the Oropesa town, I was bursting at the seams with mixed feelings..."
Singaporean volunteer Irene Lee came to Globalteer's Peru Community Project at Picaflor House near Cusco with her friend and returning volnteer Choi Kuen Lai. Here, she reflects on her three weeks wth the children at the project, the impact that she has had on the children and, just as importantly, the impact that they have had on her...
"The refrains of Marianne Faithfull's As Tears Go By
kept reverberating in my mind as I sat and watched the children from Picaflor House
play in the makeshift volleyball court.
"It was my last day serving as a volunteer for the Picaflor House Community Project and I was nostalgically ruminating not only the three weeks that have flown by so quickly but also reflecting on the line from the song: It is the evening of the day, I sit and watch the children play, doing things I used to do, they think are new, I sit and watch as tears go by......
"Indeed, sitting there observing the children against a panoramic backdrop of mountains and a sun setting on the Oropesa town, I was bursting at the seams with mixed feelings
- happy to have made the acquaintance of these Oropesan kids and thereby, reliving many of my own childhood days. Yet, through it all, I was also saddened by the fact that our childhood could not be any more different!
"Their playing without a care in the world could mask a thousand and one thoughts, unbeknownst to volunteers like me. As such, I will never understand, outside the confines of Picaflor House
, the heavy responsibility they have to shoulder at home at a tender young age, the adult roles they have to assume prematurely and the heavy burdens they have to bear just to survive from one day to the next.
"Yet, I seek refuge in their momentary displays of exuberance when chasing a ball, skipping a rope, monkeying away at the bars and oscillating high at the swings. I even secretly relish the fervour they expend in fighting (yes, physically fighting) for what they deem to be theirs and the non-inhibition of casting away acculturated behaviour that we in the developed world would frown upon......like a boy fingering the remnants of crumbs of a birthday cake on a soiled basin and then putting the spoils delightfully into his mouth! I saw what living in the moment means - truly living for that few hours away from a harsh reality that volunteers would never be witness to, let alone really understand!
"Prior to my initiation into the volunteer work, I had grander thoughts of changing the kids with whatever privilege was accorded to me growing up in the developed world. Armed with lesson plans that could jolt the interest of the most passive of kids (or so I thought!), I had to abandon ship many times and cast these plans out the window to keep the lessons afloat. In that short span of time, I became a proponent of Julius Caesar's Vini, Vidi, Vici albeit with a twist at the end: I came, I saw and I accepted what I could not conquer.
"I accept the way that the kids are.....that their reality is different from mine and it's okay. They will never be subjected to the same set of rules and behaviour that I am accustomed to in the classrooms of the developed world and ironically, I - who am quite the disciplinarian at heart - think it is okay! They will never be schooled in the same way that many students from the developed world who went through the portals of established educational institutions did but again, I have learnt to graciously accept that it's okay.
"The bottom line is that my volunteer experience has taught me to truly embrace the children and their reality as they are. And to sum up my reflections with another line from the same Marianne Faithfull's song: My riches can't buy everything, I want to hear the children sing... I believe that volunteering my time and money cannot buy the children a different reality but the good intentions that come along with my volunteer work, will, I hope, beckon the children to come into the fold of a loving environment that encourages them to continue singing a tune they are accustomed to and then, gently ease them to better themselves of their own accord, in their own time and in a reality that they are familiar with."
You will love Globalteer’s project at Picaflor House. It was a life changing experience for me...I only wish I could have stayed for longer
Karen Speedy, a primary school teacher from Western Australia spent six weeks volunteering at Globalteer’s Peru Community Project - Picaflor House
- from January to March 2014, as part of a three month trip to South America. Before going into all the details of her time with us in Cusco, Globalteer, we have rather cheekily borrowed this lovely status update from her Facebook page:
“I'm very sad to say that my biggest adventure yet has come to an end. In the past 3 months I have travelled to Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced what I have...trekking up a volcano in Chile, the amazing Iguazu falls, muddy trekking through the Amazon, hiking the Inka trail, diving the Galapagos and, what I enjoyed the most, volunteer teaching at Picaflor House Community Project in Peru.”
Anyway, here is how Karen summed up her volunteer placement and what made it so special.
“As soon as I walked in on my first day I was struck by the bright colours
and the inviting ambience
of the place. The staff and students made me feel incredibly welcome. As a qualified teacher I was given the responsibility of planning for, and teaching many English and art classes, and also the freedom to choose activities according to my strengths and interests. I really felt like a valued member of the Picaflor team
“The students have wonderful energy and enthusiasm
for learning. It was really encouraging to see the improvements in their English during the short time I was there. The project is very well organised
and the staff are respected by the students.
“I thoroughly enjoyed living in Cusco, there is so much to keep you busy. The hostel was well located in a quiet street with friendly, helpful staff. I took Spanish lessons
in the mornings and volunteered in the afternoons. On the weekends I was able to take trips out to the Amazon
and the Sacred Valley
. It's also a great base for hiking the Inka trail
and Machu Picchu
“If you are considering volunteering with children in Peru, you will love Globalteer’s project at Picaflor House. It was a life changing experience for me and helped me develop an understanding and respect for Andean culture
and history. I only wish I could have stayed for longer.”
We wish Karen could have stayed longer too! To read more about volunteering at Picaflor House, visit our Volunteer Peru Community Project
Anyone coming to volunteer should not be shy...in essence, they need to be willing to get down on the floor and act silly, get dirty and have funBrit Joe Lynch volunteered at our Peru Community Project in Cusco for 2 weeks in the winter of 2013. Here he tells us why he chose Globalteer, and explains why he thinks being able to act silly and get dirty are essential skills for vounteering:
At the end of 2012 I decided to take a year out and focus on something different; I wanted to give back and specifically wanted to help kids wherever in the world they were suffering most. I was always fascinated by Peru so it seemed like a good place to start my research.
Ruling out the "big boys"
I decided to rule out the really big companies (not sure where my money goes, very expensive, corporate when dealing with them and never really felt comfortable talking with them). But Globalteer stood out to me as a well run, medium size organisation that had the type of projects I was interested in and I really enjoyed my early discussions with them.
In my work I do a lot of stuff with kids trying to understand what makes them tick…mostly about things they like and the brands - food, drinks, games etc - that they choose. I’ve always been surrounded by kids through my family and friends and always enjoyed bringing a bit of joy into their lives.
What I enjoyed most about volunteering
Every day the kids turned up they would always have a smile on their face and would always be pleased to see you. Sometimes it was the smallest of things that really had a big impact on me. I really did enjoy lesson planning – coming up with an idea for an art or English class, getting the materials together and then seeing the class run smoothly and watching the kids get involved and enjoy what they were doing. I was really amazed at some of the work they produced and just goes to show that talent and creativity exists in all kinds of children all over the world no matter what their background or situation.
Be prepared to have fun!
I think they volunteers definitely need to be comfortable around children; know how to communicate with them; know how to play games and interact on the spot with a group of kids demanding FUN. Anyone coming to volunteer should not be shy or get really quiet when they are asked questions by kids …. In essence, they need to be willing to get down on the floor and act silly, get dirty and have fun - something adults usually forget how to do once they get passed a certain age!
I was very impressed with the whole Globalteer operation – having the Gobalteer team on the ground over there really made a difference and you can see the amazing bonds they have created with the kids. I got to see first hand where the money goes
and what a difference it is making to the lives of ‘real’ children that I actually met, bonded with and spent some very special time with. A humbling experience
The staff at the project were all warm, friendly, welcoming and you could see that they really enjoyed their work and that the kids looked up to them. It was great to have the opportunity to see first hand how they each work and it was nice to see such a mix of different skills. It was very humbling to think that they do this full time and I was only there for such a short amount of time. I was fortunate enough to work with a great bunch of volunteers and have stayed in touch with most of them since we have left Peru and hope one day our paths will cross again.
If Joe has inspired you to volunteer with us in Peru, please fill in the Peru Community Project application form
and you could be on your way to joining us in Cusco!
To anyone who is considering volunteering with Globalteer, don't hesitate and pass up this opportunity of a lifetime...do it!I always wanted to do voluntary work with children abroad – I am a primary school teacher - and I also saw projects in South America as an opportunity to practice my Spanish. After some research I found Globalteer’s Peru Community Project, set in the beautiful mountainous area of Oropesa near Cusco.
I was attracted to this project as it really seemed to appreciate its volunteers, offered safe accommodation and the website was very informative, answering pretty much any questions I could have which made me feel secure when I applied. I'd never worked in a voluntary capacity in the UK let alone on another continent so I was extremely excited!
When I went to Peru, I had just finished my first year of teaching in a primary school so I had some experience working with children. Although I don't think it's an absolute necessity to have experience working with children beforehand. You just need to be fun, caring and warm hearted!
Too many highlights to mention
In my 3 months at the project there were so many highlights - seeing the children’s smiling, enthusiastic faces welcoming me into their classes and games; accompanying the children on a bus trip (very excitedly as it was the first time in the city for many of them) to a Cusco gallery
displaying their amazing photography
; watching the children perform traditional Peruvian dances
to family members and local villagers; playing countless games such as volleyball, ten pin bowling with plastic bottles, pushing on the swings in the play park and twister, to name but a few, with their never ending energy! Having fun and getting messy in art classes; visiting a local family home and being invited to have a drink of Inca Kola with them and see the new “cleaner burning” clay oven
Globalteer had fitted into their kitchen.
I would definitely recommend choosing Globalteer to anyone who is looking to volunteer abroad. I have so many incredible memories from my 3 months there that I will cherish forever. Not only was my time at Picaflor House amazing but the hostel was clean, safe and welcoming in the perfect location of Cusco which was beautiful, lively
and full of kind, friendly people
. I fell in love with the relaxed and beautiful Peruvian culture and would love to return one day. It's great to feel appreciated
I really enjoyed working alongside the Globalteer and local project staff. It was clear that they really appreciated the help and support of the volunteers and always ensured that I was happy and getting the experience I had gone there for. I also met lots of other volunteers from various parts of the world in my time there and made some friends for life
that I reunited with just a month after returning home.
I recently recommended Globalteer to a friend who was interested in volunteering and she has now signed up to one of their projects in Cambodia
! To anyone who is considering volunteering with Globalteer, don't hesitate and pass up this opportunity of a lifetime...do it!
I feel more important now, when a little girl comes and takes my hand than I ever did putting on my suit and going to meetings.British volunteer Mary Richards had never really considered volunteering before she decided to come to Peru to work with Globalteer at Picaflor House, our community project just outside Cusco. Bringing up two children and working full time always meant that precious holiday time was usually spent recharging the batteries for two weeks before getting back to the grind stone once again.
But with the children now grown, and having been made redundant from her job as a project manager after fourteen years of service, Mary suddenly found she had the freedom to do a lot more with her spare time. Here she explains how she came to be a volunteer with Globalteer’s Peru Community Project and, shares some of the highlights – and challenges – of her time in Cusco.
Why would I be any good?
“When I first started thinking about volunteering I did ask myself, what skills have I got that might be useful? I’m not a teacher or a nurse but then I thought, actually, I brought up two children, I can do this! And whilst I do speak some Spanish you don’t actually need to in order to be a good volunteer. You can communicate in different ways if you are determined and use common sense!
“I noticed a difference in the children here immediately. They seem to have no malice, they want to share things and they are so kind. There are no gender stereotypes - the boys are allowed to like pink and glitter. And they are generally so well behaved – hardly any paddies or tantrums. I only hope that it will say like that.
Seeing change, before my very eyes
“It was also refreshing to see how quickly things are moving on at the project. When I arrived there was talk of starting a kindergarten for the children’s younger brothers and sisters. And while I have been here, funding has been secured and they are looking for a kindergarten teacher. It’s just great to see things really happening. I feel more important now, when a little girl comes and takes my hand than I ever did putting on my suit and going to meetings. My husband might notice some changes in me since I came here!
“With the benefit of hindsight I think I could have easily done this for two weeks when I was still working full time instead of, say, sitting on a beach in Mexico. It might have made me view my job differently too!
My Peruvian homestay
“I stayed at a homestay in Cusco, which was great for learning Spanish, and the food was brilliant. They really made me feel part of the family. It was the feast of All Souls while I was there and the family took me with them to the huge cemetery out of town. I felt a little bit like I was intruding, but when I got there, there was a group of Mexicans playing music by one of the tombs, and ‘my family’ were really keen to show me all the little offerings at the tombs. There was even a little Eiffel tower by one of them. I didn’t feel like an outsider at all.
“The homestays are comfortable, but obviously not to European standards, but that’s what you expect. It does get cold at night too and Peruvian homes don’t have heating! So bring lots of warm clothing with you and if you want to be near the action in the centre of town then let Globalteer know when you apply as I was a bus ride away, although that was fine or me.
What I liked about Globalteer
“I liked Globalteer’s approach from the start – I admit I nearly went with another organisation but something didn’t feel right. The volunteering side of things was treated as a kind of add-on but with Globalteer I knew all about the project and the sort of work I would be doing before I left, and I felt that there really was a need for me to help. I received lots of information before I left and the pack I received when I arrived was brilliant.
"With some of the other organisations I felt like the volunteering was somehow secondary in importance, people were doing it just to collect things to put on their CVs. And of course Globalteer is non-profit which is also important to me. There were lots of pictures on the website which I liked – it was nice when I got here as I recognised lots of things at the project from the website.
“I am already thinking of going to volunteer at one of Globalteer’s Asian projects and my husband and both my children are really keen to volunteer now too. If you’re thinking about volunteering with Globalteer I’d say, do it! Don’t think twice, just get on a plane and do it.”
The children are energetic, enthusiastic and happy...their energy will electrify anyone!
Singaporean volunteer Choi Kuen Lai
had participated in fundraising ventures for charitable projects in Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines but had never done any hands-on volunteering before she decided to volunteer with Globalteer at Picaflor House in Oropesa near Cusco, Peru.
Here she explains what prompted her to give up her time to help the children of Oropesa with their education.
“Education for children is compulsory in Singapore where I come from, and I have benefitted from our meritocratic system. The education that my siblings and I have received has opened up many career opportunities to us. My illiterate parents encouraged us to pursue further education if we wished to. They never would have suggested that we leave school prematurely to help in the family’s finances. But sadly this is not the case for many children in developing countries.
"I am therefore a firm believer in education for children
, as literacy will increase their chances to have a better future - It is with this belief that I chose to volunteer at Picaflor House". Experience not essential
"I had very little experience working with children before I arrived at Picaflor House - my only real experience with children has been time spent with my 11 nieces and nephews.
"Whilst some experience of children helps, it is not essential and one certainly does not need a lot of experience working with children in order to volunteer at an after-school centre like Picaflor House.
"The children, although not having a lot materially, are energetic, enthusiastic and happy. I was touched by their enthusiasm to learn as well as their happiness at play. The children’s energy will electrify anyone! I would say that children connect easily with volunteers who extend friendship, care and concern to them." In at the deep end
"One day, I was asked if I could teach the three English classes for the afternoon as the teacher was sick. I said yes and took myself to task! I have never taught in a classroom before and I was to teach three groups of active and eager Spanish speaking kids, when I only have very basic Spanish like ‘hola’ and ‘como estas?’
"But once I had broken the ice with the kids and they were happy to let me be their teacher! They were most cooperative and participated earnestly in class. I was exhausted by the end of the three hours but it was a most rewarding experience for me.
"Another day I was given the task of watching over the children in the playground.
It was a rather nerve-racking afternoon watching over kids who have a different concept of danger than mine. But it was through these play hours that I experienced immense joy
. I allow myself to indulge in life’s simple pleasures that often elude those of us caught up in the hustle and bustle of big city living.
"I would certainly recommend volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor House to my friends. I was impressed with the number of children that turned up every day even though attendance at Picaflor House is voluntary. This tells me that Picaflor House is achieving its objectives of providing a safe haven for underprivileged children, offering them learning opportunities and at the same time allowing them to play and to have a childhood." Being part of the team
"I am most grateful towards the staff at Picaflor House. I felt like I was part of the team from the word ‘go’. They included me in the classrooms and in the playground from day one. I assisted in English, Art and Dance classes during my three weeks of service there. They were very friendly, very helpful and always open to my ideas. A big ‘thank you’ to all of you!
"If you sign up on your own for the volunteer experience, please wear an “independent hat”. If you feel uncomfortable with that you might be better off signing up and volunteering with a friend or friends.
"But most importantly, choose to volunteer at Picaflor House only if you like working with children and if you enjoy the chaos of highly charged kids. You will be rewarded
with their generous show of gratitude."
If, like Choi, you would like to help us extend the privilege of education to the children of Oropesa village, please visit our Volunteer Peru Community Project
pages to find how to become a volunteer. Or if you have already made up your mind, please fill in a volunteer application form
"If you’re on the fence and not quite sure then take my advice and go for it. It was the best thing I've ever done"
27 year-old Paul Oakley from South Wales admits that after a few tough years he took a look at his life and decided he didn't like the way it was heading. Having always wanted to travel, but also wanting to give something back to the countries that he visited, he scoured the web and decided to go to Peru and Argentina. After more internet searching he applied to Globalteer’s Peru Community Project
at Picaflor house because it “looked like a fantastic project” that suited what he wanted - plus it was close to Machu Picchu which was on his 'to do list'.
Before heading for South America, Paul had no volunteering experience
but that didn’t put him off, and he volunteered in Argentina before coming to Picaflor House near Cusco
in the Peruvian Andes. This is what he had to say about his experience.
"The only experience I had of working with children before I went to Picaflor House
was the experience I gained in Argentina and just being around my friends and all their children. If you like children then you will be fine. The children have so much to give and providing you have the right attitude then it will all come with time. The people at Picaflor House
"I made some wonderful friends that I'm still in contact with, the children never failed to make me smile even when I missed home - and Peru is a beautiful country with such lovely people. Diane (Globalteer’s Project Manager) was amazing, I had a few problems during my stay and she sorted them quickly for me. Eliza (Globalteer’s Development Manager) was also very helpful, preparing lessons and assisting in the lessons amongst other things.
"Nelida (Picaflor House Manager) was great, always smiling and helping me with my Spanish. Generally the other volunteers
were like-minded people who I made friends with and remain in contact with. Obviously there are occasionally exceptions to the rule but diplomacy goes a long way.
"I would definitely recommend Globalteer
to anyone. They were professional and supportive throughout. Their staff are lovely and really helped me out. I also like the fact that a lot of the money goes towards the project. You can see where your money goes and how much the kids appreciate it.
"If you’re on the fence and not quite sure then take my advice and go for it
. It was the best thing I've ever done. I met amazing people and had a great time and I felt I made a difference to the children's lives. Please tell my story to as many people as you can and get more volunteers to the projects!"
If you'd like to "go for it" and help Paul's wish come true, then visit our Peru Community Project
pages and apply today!
"I would recommend volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor House, especially if it is the first time of taking part in a voluntary experience on your own"
Deciding to volunteer at Globalteer’s Picaflor House
near Cusco in Peru was not a snap decision for English woman Christine McAllen. She first came across the Globalteer website in 2010, at a time when she was searching for meaning and direction in her life following the loss of her husband. She made a mental note of the work Globalteer was doing with the children at Picaflor House and later that year took a 16 day tour to Peru.
Visiting Cusco made her realise that it would be a safe place to visit on her own
if she should decide to come back as a volunteer. In 2011 she made contact with the then Project Manager for South America, and later the volunteer co-ordinator which finally made her feel confident enough to take the plunge.
No spanish? No problem
Whilst Christine had a lot of volunteering experience
under her belt already and had worked quite extensively with children, she is convinced that anyone who likes being around children and is willing to do whatever is needed to help Picaflor House will be well suited to volunteering with Globalteer’s project. What’s more, she doesn’t think that having no knowledge of Spanish
should hold anyone back either. Here is what else she had to say about her volunteering experience.
“I had a good experience working with the staff at Picaflor and met many volunteers from around the globe
– Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, South Korea, England and Wales. It was great to get to know these people and to find out more of where they lived. We shared meals together in the evening and also took part in quizzes to raise money for Picaflor House. There were also opportunities to visit markets and take part in tours with some of the volunteers.
The Picaflor House Games
“The week of the Olympics, which sadly was also my last week – we spent the whole week making flags, medals and hats in preparation for Picaflor’s own Olympic-style event on the Friday. It was a great day with three teams made up of the children and volunteers – Peru, England and Canada competing in various events during the course of the afternoon. The Peruvian team won, followed by England and then the Canada team. This was followed by the distribution of medals to all the children and the hats they made and a celebration with cake and soft drinks – a great afternoon was had by all!
“Another good day was when we shared our photos of our families and of where we lived with the children. We then asked them to draw pictures of their own families; this was a great exercise, learning about them and their families. A personal recommendation
“I would recommend volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor House, especially if it is the first time of taking part in a voluntary experience on your own – you are well supported by Picaflor staff – with written information about Cusco plus a tour on your arrival which includes a bus journey to Oropesa where the project is based.
The hostel meets all your basic needs, the staff there are very helpful and supportive it is only a 15 minute walk to the town centre. You can also arrange Spanish Lessons
from the hostel if you so wish. I am not Spanish speaking but this did not interfere with my experience at the project, you soon pick up words and small phrases and the children are keen to help you if necessary.
“I liked what was being done for the children of Oropesa and the plans that Globalteer had for the project. I follow Picaflor House on Facebook
, it is great to see what the other volunteers are doing with the children and to see the children themselves.
“Through my experience with Globalteer I gained a lot of confidence, I am now living in Cusco for three months and immersing myself in the Spanish Language for a month before I experience working with another project, I plan to visit Picaflor House on several occasions while I am here.”
Read about Christine's fund raising efforts for Picaflor House on our fund-raising hall of fame page
, or find out more about volunteering at our Volunteer Peru Community Project
“It had its challenges but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
Kiri Backhouse was just 18 when she volunteered at Globalteer’s Peru Children’s Project at Picaflor House for two months in 2011. Inspired by her godparents’ tales of South America and Cusco, and encouraged by her godmother’s accounts of volunteering with Globalteer in Cambodia, the decision to volunteer with the children at Picaflor was an easy one for Kiri:
“I just love the energy, playfulness and curiosity of children. They need to know everything right in that moment and I love the never ending questions. And of course…children are the future and knowledge is power so anything that I could do to possibly brighten a child’s future...who wouldn’t want to do that?”
Having done some voluntary work with disabled kids back home in Australia, and helped out with children’s sports during a school trip to East Timor she had an idea of what was in store for her when she embarked on her trip to Peru. Here she recounts her experience. First impressions
“I’m not sure what I was expecting, I had seen lots of photos of Cusco and the real thing did not disappoint. I had already spent several days in Chile before arriving in Peru, so I was already over most of my culture shock. I had chosen Globalteer as it was much cheaper than other companies that offered basically the same thing and for me as a student on a gap year that was really important. I also had a very high recommendation about the company from my godmother who had volunteered with Globalteer in Cambodia.
“The journey for me was quite hard as I was alone and spent 4 days in Santiago (Chile) before travelling to Peru. I was in culture shock and I experienced some anxiety in such a big strange place completely alone.”
But once Kiri was in Oropesa things soon slotted into place.
“The bus to the project was fine, the first day Annie took us and then the next couple of days Denise (one of the other volunteers) showed me around Cusco and how to get to the bus stop etc. There were always volunteers there that you could organise something with in the morning and travel in together so there was never any issue. I knew absolutely no Spanish when I arrived but I had no problems with communication – you would be surprised at how much you can get across with hand signals and a couple of words.
“The best part about the volunteer accommodation was being in the same place as all the other volunteers that meant there was always someone around if you needed them. The wi-fi was also great because I could Skype with family and it didn’t feel like you were completely at the end of the world.” Highs and lows
“I had so many highlights. Meeting such amazing people from all over the world who you know will be lifelong friends. There were too many highlights with the kids to count. One day we took them to a wildlife rescue centre, another day we got a TV and watched The Lion King in Spanish!
“There were also a lot of challenges, probably the biggest for me was not having my family around as a support unit when I got sick, had my wallet stolen, also when my Auntie passed away and I wasn’t at home to support my family. Skype was great and I had a phone for emergencies. The best thing that helped me through were all the other volunteers, whether it was giving me crackers when I couldn’t eat dinner or coming with me to the tourist police or even just there for a good hug, the other volunteers helped me through so much.
“I think the best impact we had with working with the children was just being there. Giving them a reliable safe-house where they could learn and play with their friends after school. Also that there were constantly new volunteers with different strengths from different places - that made the kids really curious about the world around them.” The final farewell
“Leaving felt strange because I had lived there for 2 months. It was really hard to have to say goodbye, especially to the children. It had its challenges but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Thank you so much for the great experience and special thanks to Annie because she was a fantastic project manager and has done so much amazing work for Picaflor House
Kiri is eager to do more volunteering as soon as she can, and has even started discussing a reunion with some of her fellow volunteers at Globalteer’s Children’s Project in Cambodia
“Of course I love volunteering so I will definitely do it again...soon.”
"An amazing experience both in terms of the teaching opportunity and the country"
American David Schwartz, 52, volunteered with Globalteer's Peru Children's Project
at Picaflor House
for three weeks in January 2012. When we asked him if we could tell his story on our website his response was pretty emphatic: “I would be happy to share this experience with anyone”. Here is his story:
“I have wanted to do something that was less physical and more intellectual as a volunteer for a while. I have done physical volunteering, helping build things, but not teaching. I looked on the internet to see what various opportunities were available and I liked what Globalteer was doing at Picaflor House. The opportunity to go to Peru really appealed to me – it’s somewhere fascinating and it helped that I have some rudimentary Spanish skills.
"Travelling to Cusco is a long trip and I had to overnight in Lima. I was met by the driver at Cusco airport which was great, so it went fairly well, even if my luggage didn’t arrive with me and got there 7 hours later! When I finally arrived everything was better than I had expected. The accommodation was nothing special but it was close to the central Plaza which was nice and getting the bus and the walk to the bus stop were great.
"The eagerness of the children to learn was the highlight of my experience and I think my ability to show them that I was truly interested in them and helping them to learn probably had the biggest impact on them. Also, I speak some Spanish so I was able to communicate with them OK.
"Leaving was an emotionally hard thing to do. It was an amazing experience both in terms of the teaching opportunity and the country. I will definitely do this type of thing again although probably not in Peru - as there are so many places to go in the world! I would possibly volunteer at another Globalteer Project
"Those two weeks I spent volunteering in Peru were the happiest of my life."
Erika Palomino volunteered at Globalteer’s Peru Children’s Project at Picaflor House
near Cusco for two weeks in 2011. In her early twenties, Erika lives in Texas but is originally from Peru, so had an idea of what to expect from her trip.
Her ambition is to work full time with children in the future so she saw volunteering as a great way to get started. But it was Erika’s father who discovered the Globalteer website on the internet, and as soon as she read about Picaflor she “knew this was the kind of experience I was looking for”.
A short bout of altitude sickness - soon cured with liberal servings of coca tea - and the chilly mountain mornings did not faze Erika who really appreciated the friendly staff and the hot showers at the volunteer accommodation. Getting down to work
Once in the classroom Erika soon worked out ways to deal with some of the situations that volunteering in a developing country can throw at you.
“Usually what I had to do every day was to encourage the children to read different stories and get them to talk to me about them. Let’s just say there were some kids who were more willing than others. ..One day I noticed that one of the kids would get done with his reading a lot quicker than the rest of the group and he would then proceed to start chatting away to kill time. At first I tried assigning him more reading, but by the time everyone else had finished reading he wouldn’t have enough time to tell me about his stories.
"Toward the end of my stay at Picaflor I finally figured out how I could make it all work. I created a system where each kid had to stop by a table once they were done reading to talk to me about their story, and if one of them got done earlier than the others they would have to go and pick up another book.
"I also assigned a big book to the kid who was a fast reader. The book was about dinosaurs. I figured that he would continue on distracting the other students if I let him sit with them on the floor and therefore that day I made him sit with me at the table with his book about dinosaurs and told him to tell me about everything the book taught him. He did just that. He compared the different kinds of dinosaurs there were, thoroughly enthralled by all the details in the book, and once I got him started there was no stopping him. I’ve never been a big fan of dinosaurs, but I just had tons of fun sitting there listening to him.” Rewards and challenges
For Erika the best part was just talking with the children, although she found trying to help resolve their arguments could be a bit of a challenge.
“The part I loved the most about it all was my conversations with the children. My favourite conversation with them was when they told me that I should quit learning all the languages I know and just focus in on Quechua (the indigenous Peruvian language). They even tried to teach me some useful phrases!
"There were challenges too. I’ve always been a bit of an impatient person and there were some days when the kids had arguments I had to help them resolve. It was a big adjustment for sure, trying to think of ways to teach them how to always respect one another. I think that during moments like those all I really needed was just more experience working with children. So I tried to think of what worked with me when I was a child or even what worked with my brother (who was a bit of a difficult case anyway), but with time I started figuring out what worked and what didn’t.”
Although most volunteers only start to learn Spanish when they get to Peru, being able to speak Spanish to the children helped Erika to settle in to her role quickly, and her language skills were a useful addition to the volunteer team’s skill set.
“At first I wasn’t sure how to handle so many children at once, but with time I figured out that these children didn’t have a lot of opportunities to bond with the volunteers in Spanish. So I took that as my chance to be the one volunteer they could really relate to. We joked around and some of them felt more at ease around me than others. Given that I know the culture pretty well, I think that the one thing I was able to do fairly well was to make everything relatable to them, because I did feel that was one thing they were missing...I tried to explain them things in their own words, with concepts they would understand.” Future plans
Erika would love to return to Picaflor House, and is even thinking about going to Globalteer’s Cambodia children’s project
. Whatever she does next, she is keen to do another volunteer trip just as soon as she can, as she explains,
“I was happy with my experience, but I was sad to leave it all behind. Two weeks felt too short - Those two weeks I spent volunteering in Peru were the happiest of my life.”