Cherie Corden - General Care Projects in Peru
While planning my trip to Cusco, Peru I was so anxious and excited, as I am the only one in my family who has travelled outside of our country. However, as I got closer to my departure I started getting nervous about travelling by myself to a foreign country to volunteer with an organisation I found online.
I decided to go in with an open mind and resolved to meet new people, learn about the different culture, travel around Cusco, improve my Spanish, and help the children at my placement. I am glad that was able to put my nerves aside because it turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far.
Arriving in Cusco
When I landed in Cusco, the Projects Abroad staff was not there to pick me up as my flight had been delayed by a few hours. With the help of the friendly airport staff I was able to get in touch with the Projects Abroad staff and they came to pick me up right away. On my way to Urubamba (about an hour from Cusco) I fell in love with the scenery. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.
My host family gave me a warm welcome when I arrived and they made me feel right at home! They lived in a comfortable Peruvian home with a garden, family room, kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. They also had Wi-Fi, which I wasn’t expecting but was very thankful for because I was able to contact my family back home. Though I was feeling a bit homesick and tired after my 22 hour journey, my host family made me feel comfortable and helped me get settled in.
Volunteering at my Kindergarten Placement
Two other staff members picked me up the day after I arrived. They showed me how to get to the kindergarten and explained a bit more about how the colectivos (the transportation system) worked. At the kindergarten, they introduced me to the children and the local teacher and explained my roles as a Care volunteer.
The children of the kindergarten were amazing! They knew my Spanish was not good so they took it upon themselves to teach me words they had just learned themselves. They were patient with my Spanish and so was the teacher I worked with. I developed a strong bond with the children very fast, it was incredible.
Travelling and Socialising in Peru
Aside from volunteering at my placement, I had some free time on the weekends and I was able to meet other volunteers and travel. Projects Abroad also had weekly socials where they held events for the volunteers to come take part in and meet one another, such as Peruvian cooking classes, salsa lessons, trail hikes, and more. I met a lot of the volunteers through the socials and became close to all of them. We all travelled together on the weekends to different places around Cusco, like, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and Machu Picchu. We became so close over the course of a month that I considered them all my family.
The thing that I liked most about this trip it would be the people I met while in Peru: the Projects Abroad staff, my host family, the niños (children) in the kindergarten, the other volunteers, and the locals! They were all amazing and so different. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and forming relationships that I will never forget.
If I would change anything about my trip it would be the amount of time I was there. I was only there for four weeks and that was far too short for me. I think if I could have stayed another two weeks it would have been perfect. Though I was sad to leave everyone and return home, my life-changing experiences, the niños of the kindergarten, my host family, and my volunteer friends will forever be a part of me. It was one heck of an experience that I will never forget.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.