Megan Wilkinson - Care & Community in Peru
When we left London, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been outside of Europe before, let alone to South America. However, what I didn’t expect was to feel as much at home there as I do at home or to create long-lasting memories and friendships which will last a lifetime.
Arriving in Peru
After a long and tiring journey, we arrived in Cusco, Peru. We were immediately greeted by a member of staff who was cheerful and friendly, even though it was 5 am. We were then taken to our host family, who were so welcoming. After getting some well-deserved rest, we were taken on a tour of the city of Cusco, taking in the amazing views and sites. We all fell in love with the city and its beautiful scenery.
Staying with my host family
From the moment we arrived, we were made to feel at home, despite being halfway across the world! The house was comfortable and cosy which made it even better. Our host mother was a fantastic cook, and she provided us with a great variety of Peruvian food. This included lots of rice, potatoes, meat, and vegetables. After staying with them for two weeks, we didn’t want to leave!
My Care Project
After settling in for the weekend, we started the project bright and early on Monday morning. We were given our itinerary, which included both volunteering at a home for the elderly and a local kindergarten. We also had many tasks which benefited the local community, such as building furniture and painting murals.
Our first activity was to further explore the city of Cusco. We went on a walking tour, stopping at many locations, not only to catch our breath but to admire the breathtaking views. We were even lucky enough to experience a Peruvian celebration, celebrating Saint Maria.
Our first volunteering experience was at a home for the elderly, where we were responsible for talking with the residents, as well as carrying out tasks such as preparing vegetables in the kitchen. It was incredible to talk to these people and find out their stories and experiences.
The next day, we were taken to the local kindergarten, where we volunteered for the rest of our time in Cusco. We were introduced to the children and the staff, who were all very friendly. We were able to help the children in their activities, as well as organising games and activities of our own. The most rewarding part of this experience was being able to make connections with the children. For example, whenever we walked in the classroom, they would all run up to us to give us a hug!
After lunch, we would complete projects, such as painting murals, making furniture, and cushions for other local schools.
Social and weekend activities
In the evenings, we had organised activities, such as pottery or cooking classes. These enabled us to understand and develop our knowledge of the Peruvian culture and traditions.
We also had many opportunities for sight-seeing. We took a weekend trip to the Sacred Valley, where were we all stunned by the amazing views. After a long bus journey, we arrived at the town of Ollantaytambo, where we toured the archaeological site and explored the local market. From there, we took the train to Aguas Calientes, the town of Macchu Picchu, where we visited the markets which sold everything imaginable. After a very early start (4 am in the morning!) we got the bus to Macchu Picchu. This was incredible; the views were spectacular and unlike anything I have ever experienced.
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.