Volunteer Work In Peru: A Comprehensive Guidebook
Once upon a time, it was the land where the Incas ruled. Peru, undoubtedly, is one of the gorgeous countries of the world, that’s home to the lush green Amazon rainforest and the ruins of Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca city in the Andes mountains.
The land had evolved immensely with age and has undergone layers of development. But even in this 21st Century, there are certain communities in Peru that are lesser privileged and requires a little external support. Volunteering Solutions, in association with local Peruvian organizations, has structured certain projects in order to ensure that participants can get to actively become a part of social change in Peru.
VolSol provides some really affordable and meaningful volunteer programs in the city of Cusco, that’s also marked as a Heritage City by UNESCO. This comprehensive guidebook aims to provide answers to all questions that might arise, as soon as you’ll think of taking a volunteer trip to Peru.
- Requirements to volunteer in Peru
- Projects available in Peru and Costs
- Accommodation facilities
- Safety concerns in Peru
- DOs and DON’Ts in Peru
- Things to do in Peru
- Why choose Volunteering Solutions?
- Reviews from past volunteers
What are the requirements to be a volunteer in Peru?
All it takes to be a volunteer is compassion, enthusiasm, dedication, and patience. Those who pertains all these qualities, or even one of these, can be a volunteer. However, there are certain prerequisites, which one needs to comply fully to volunteer in Peru.
- Participants joining the Medical Projects need to have a proper degree/ letter of recommendation. Those who wish to join the Medical Projects must be 3rd year/ final year students or practitioners.
- Since few programs also include children, it is mandatory for an interested candidate to submit a certificate for the clean criminal background.
- The age of the interested candidate must be at least 17 years (min. 18 years for medical students).
- Participants must be ready to work hard.- The volunteers need to have an open mind and positive approach towards their projects.
Note: Basic knowledge of Spanish Language is necessary. For those who don’t know the language, can opt for the 1 week Language and Orientation Program. Otherwise, you can also take classes that goes side by side, with your project.
What are the popular volunteering projects available in Peru? How much will I have to pay to take part in the projects?
Volunteering Solutions offers some incredible and affordable projects in Peru that are available throughout the year. The minimum duration to be a volunteer is 1 week and extends till 24 weeks. Participants can choose their duration as per convenience.
Currently, there are 8 projects located in and around the beautiful city of Cusco, which was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is popular for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Let’s take a quick look at the projects so that it gets easier for you to choose:
This short term volunteering project in Peru is meant for those who have a time constraint yet wish to serve the society and make some meaningful contribution. Participants will get to work rural nursery schools on the outskirts of Cusco, where the teacher student ratio is as low as 1:30. Due to lack of staff, these schools fail to deliver their duties properly, and kids are often left ignored during the school hours. Hence, volunteers are required to take care of the children and provide them love and affection. The average age of the kids coming to these schools varies from 3 to 5 years.
On the weekends, volunteers will be provided with guided tours of the city of Cusco, as well a tour to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Discover the Sacred Valley of the Inca Civilization, and immerse in the Peruvian culture in a unique manner, while volunteering for this project. There will be ample scope to know and learn about the history of the country, and how it has evolved with time.
Volunteers joining this program will get to spend all their time with little ones aging between 6 months to 5 years. Most of these kids belong to difficult background situations and most of them have single mothers. What these kids need are your love and care. The main aim of this project is to provide the kids with basic necessities and also keep them engaged in creative activities like art and craft. Volunteers can also teach alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes etc to the 4 or 5-year-old ones so that they’ll be prepared before heading off to the kindergarten school.
There is inadequate staff in these centers and thus, volunteers can also provide assistance in managerial work.
Kindergartens in the rural areas aren’t as well-equipped as those in the urban areas. Most of these schools have 30 to 40 kids ranging from the age of 3 to 5 years. The surprising thing is that due to lack of teachers, the schools are run by ‘mothers of the community’ (known as promoters). The entire system is run by community participation.
Being a volunteer, you’ll have to assist the ‘promoters’ in carrying out their daily duties. You’ve to check attendance of the kids, teach them lessons and also play with them. Teaching is more action based and the kids are to be groomed well so that they are ready for elementary school. Volunteers can also renovate and decorate the school premises.
While Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Peru, the schools are in need of well versed English teachers. the age of the students can vary from 14 years to 45 years, and these students are not divided in the grades as per age but according to their knowledge of the language.
Volunteers are provided with a fixed curriculum, study materials and are assisted by the local teacher coordinator. Volunteers usually have the liberty to develop their own projects to teach English. The main focus should be on developing the vocabulary and pronunciation of the students so that they can communicate in English without much hesitation. As a volunteer, you need to be creative enough, so that the students remain engaged in the class.
If you don’t mind taking up challenges, then you should definitely choose to volunteer at the Disabled Care Center located in the city of Cusco. The school where volunteers are placed is meant for mentally challenged and deaf students who need extra care. Volunteers have to support the teachers in taking the classes. The main idea is to keep the students creatively engaged and prepare lessons that include art and crafts, indoor games, and interactive sessions.
Participants having a degree in psychology and therapy can also assist the experts working in the school. Volunteers can also help in improving computer skills of the students and teachers, as well as carry out required managerial tasks.
Premed, medical and dental students can take part in the internship projects and gain valuable international work experience. Interns are usually placed in hospitals and clinics where they have to shadow the professional doctors, nurses, or dentists. Work is divided as per knowledge and experience. Mostly, 3rd and final year students are endowed with the maximum responsibility of treating patients, otherwise, interns have to assist the professionals.
The main goal of the interns should be to treat the patients with care and help them get well faster.
Participants can choose the program based on their skills, likes, and preferences as well as educational qualification. The minimum cost starts at $ 375 for a week and varies from program to program, based on the duration as well.
What kind of accommodation can I expect in Peru?
All our projects in Peru are located in and around the city of Cusco, as mentioned earlier. Volunteers/ interns will be provided accommodation with local host families. Homestays are the best as they give you an opportunity to peek inside the lives of the locals. Accommodation is provided on same gender sharing basis and the rooms are neat and clean. Volunteers are requested to treat the house as their own and be cordial with the hosts. There are attached bathrooms with geysers. Some of our host families also have WiFi and television provisions.
What kind of meals will I get during my stay?
Usually, volunteers are provided with 3 cooked meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) on all weekdays, at the homestay. The meals usually comprise of soups, vegetables, salads, rice, potatoes, juices, desserts etc.
On the weekends, volunteers have the liberty to explore the street food and restaurants.
What are the safety concerns while volunteering in Peru?
Peru is a safe country and usually a preferred destination for volunteering. However, we would request you not to travel alone at night, go for partying with strangers or move out of the city without informing our coordinator. In case you need any help, you can get in touch with the coordinator, who’ll be available 24/7 for your service.
Volunteers can also look up resourceful sites like Lonely Planet to gather more information about Peru and its general atmosphere. You are also recommended to follow the safety guidelines provided by the in-country coordinator during Orientation Session and in the Pre-Departure Guidebook.
Consult your physician before traveling, so that you are sure of any medication that you might need. In general, you need to take Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Diarrhoea vaccinations for your safety. No one wants to fall sick while traveling abroad. So, precautions are better than cure.
What are the DOs and DON’Ts that one must remember while volunteering in Peru?
While the Peruvians are known to be extremely cordial and warm people, volunteers and interns should follow certain DOs and DON’Ts in order to have an enriching experience.
- Always carry a copy of your passport. While getting entry tickets for famous places, they might need to check your passport copy.
- Always choose the official taxi service, otherwise, they may charge an exorbitant price. However, we would suggest you take the local buses, as they are very affordable and convenient.
- Always carry your own toilet paper, as many public restrooms in Peru do not have any.
- You might have to pay higher prices than the locals while buying things in Peru. However, that cost will be way cheaper than what you’ll pay for the same product in North America or Europe.
- Try to learn a few Spanish words – it’ll be of great help!
- You should take your own peaceful time to hike the entire Machu Picchu area. Traveling to Peru and not exploring this place well isn’t worthy!
- Dress appropriately, if you don’t want unrequired attention.
- Try the local cuisine. Peruvian cuisine is popular all over the world, and when you are there, missing out the food is absolute “no no”!
- Respect the locals, their culture, and customs, lifestyle etc. Especially for volunteers and interns, it is extremely necessary as you’ll have to spend most of your time with the locals.
- Don’t go out alone at night. Although Peru is safe enough, we would request you not to venture alone. You can go out with your mates and inform the project coordinator.
- Don’t call someone with finger gestures, it is considered as an insult in Peru.
- Don’t take pictures of people without seeking their permission.
- Don’t carry enough cash or too many valuables with you while traveling. Also, leave your documents at the accommodation and carry only photocopies.
- Don’t hurry too much when traveling into higher areas. Altitude sickness is something that you probably don’t want to ruin your trip.
- Don’t book anything online. You’ll get cheaper deals while buying hand to hand tickets.
- Don’t fall asleep while traveling in the local transportation. You’ll land up somewhere else!
What are the things to do while volunteering in Peru?
While the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of Peru is Machu Picchu, but the country has a lot more than just the ruins of the ancient Inca civilization. With diverse landscapes, rich history and archeological sites – Peru has so much to offer to its visitors that one can easily fall short of time.
So here’s a list of things that you can do during your volunteer trip to Peru. Make sure that you chalk out which of these you wish to cover, and optimize your time in the most efficient manner. You can seek the help of the country coordinator, who’ll be happy to help you in planning your trips.
1. Trek the Inca Trails of Machu Picchu
Of course, this has to be done! Take your time, and don’t be in a rush while exploring this place. It would be best if you can keep one weekend exclusively for this trip. Cross the stone Inca stairways to pass through deserted villages and fields terraced onto sheer Andean slopes. Pause, and imagine how this place must have been once, at some point in time.
2. Explore the diverse ecosystem in the Amazon Rainforest Region
The Peruvian part of the Amazon forest is most diverse and prolific. Take a boat ride along the largest river in the world and stay at one of the jungle lodges to experience the thrill of forest life. Watch the colorful Macaws and Flamingoes. Find yourself amidst nature and feel the bliss of being away from the otherwise chaotic urban life. It’ll surely be something that you’ll remember for long.
3. Visit the Sacred Valley and the region along the Urubamba River
Located at a distance of nearly 20 km from Cusco, the Sacred Valley is an extension of Inca civilization. Explore this region to witness the history and archeological remains. If you are an adventure junkie, then you can also try out bungee jumping, river rafting, and other sports in this destination.
4. Fall in love with Peruvian cuisine
The best part about a volunteering trip is that you’ll get to spend quality time with the locals and have enough opportunity to try the local food. Also, there are numerous restaurants and cafes where you’ll get authentic food. Indulge your taste buds and experience the diversity in flavors.
5. Be a part of the celebrations and festivals
Latin American countries are famous for their vibrancy and colorful festivals. In Peru, about 3000 typical fiestas are celebrated every year, so you’ll surely catch up something or the other. Get dressed in the traditional costume and join the carnival.
6. Take a tour of the local markets
Explore the local markets and experience the beauty of Peruvian art and craft. You can also make good use of your bargaining skill and pick up some souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
7. Trek up the Rainbow Mountains
Probably the best-kept secret of Peru, hiking up the Rainbow Mountains which is also known as Vinicunca, would be absolutely perfect. Most of the people visiting Peru tend to miss out this undiscovered land full of wildly desert landscapes, snow capped peaks, and pristinely gorgeous views.
Why should I volunteer/ intern in Peru with Volunteering Solutions?
Of course, when you choose to volunteer/ intern abroad, you need to decide your destination after proper research. After all, this is going to be one of the most eventful chapters of your life – so you need to take a proper decision about which organization you want to volunteer with. You have to be sure that your contribution counts in the long run. The ultimate goal is sustainable development. Peru, in spite of undergoing recent developments, still has chunks of underprivileged people who suffer from adequate healthcare and medical facilities and kids who can’t afford to go to good schools having proper teaching staff.
Volunteers and interns are required to provide help to those in need. Volunteering Solutions, in association with local organizations and healthcare centers, has taken up the cause and ensures better living conditions for the underprivileged Peruvians. In the last 10 years, VolSol has worked in nearly 20 countries across the 5 major continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Australia) and more than 12,500 volunteers have worked with us in different parts of the world.
We have a trusted country coordinator in Peru, who will be available 24/7 and assist you whenever you need any help. Since most Peruvians are Spanish speakers, our coordinator will make sure that you don’t have any problem while communicating at the project site.
It’ll be a ‘WIN WIN’ experience for you, as you’ll get to learn a lot from your volunteering journey, your coordinator as well as from your peers. On the other hand, you will be making some positive change in the society, by contributing in your own way and adding happiness to few more lives. A journey with Volunteering Solutions will expose you to certain things that you might have ignored/ overlooked all your life, and it’ll surely change your perception about everything.
Reviews From Past Volunteers:
You can read more reviews on our Facebook Page and scroll through the Instagram photos. If you have any more queries, you can drop a mail at [email protected] and directly get in touch with our Program Advisors.