Peruvian Volunteer Project: Day 1-3- Lima
We arrived in Lima at around eight o’clock on Thursday evening after a long day of travelling. We had a light dinner at the Residencia Universitaria Femenina, the university residence of the Teresian Association in Lima, before going to bed. This was within walking distance from where we were staying. On Friday, we went to Colegio Isabel Flores de Oliva (CIFO), the Teresian School in Lima. We were given a tour of the school by members of the student council. Our visit coincided with a very special day for Peru. It is known as the ‘Day of the Flag’, which is a celebration of their Peruvian patriotism and love of country. We watched as the school performed a flag ceremony involving drums and marching banners and flags. Our visit was very interesting and everyone was so welcoming. Afterwards, we visited a pre-Incan, mud-brick temple and burial site. It was extremely interesting and we took lots of photos.
On Saturday, we went on a tour around Lima. We visited some of the famous buildings and churches and the bustling food market. The art and architecture was beautiful in the churches and we were all amazed by the detail. Afterwards, we went for lunch in a restaurant which had musicians and performers that showcased the traditional dances from the different regions of Peru. We had our first try of traditional food and were pleasantly surprised. We sampled dishes such as lomo saltado, and yuca chips. It was delicious and also amazing to see all of the traditional dances. We also joined in, dancing to the music. It was a great experience that we all enjoyed. In the evening, we visited Parque del Agua with its incredible water fountains. They were beautiful and really colourful. We all got soaked running through them but had so much fun.
On the final day in Lima, we celebrated mass and then went to an archeological museum about the the history of Peru, including the Incas. It was a great tour and we all learned a lot. Later that evening , we got the bus to Villa El Salvador and said ‘goodbye for now’ to Lima. We were so impressed by the city and it was a weekend none of us will ever forget.
Alexandra and Daniela, Peru Crew 2019
Guadix Centre and Villa El Salvador
Upon arriving in Guadix Centre, we met with Eli and the rest of the lovely team who would be caring for us over the next two weeks. After our first delicious meal of many, we met with Eli, to discuss our expectations and the difficulties we thought we might face in the day-care centres and abused children’s centre. Everyone’s unique opinions were shared and discussed. Queries were answered and minor worries resolved. After the meeting, we headed to bed exhausted, after a long day’s travel.
On the first day in Villa El Salvador, we met Tony, our tour guide, and learned all about the district of Villa. A group of American college students who were also volunteering in Villa, joined us on the tour. We visited the grave of an influential woman, Maria Elena Moyano, who was murdered by terrorists for campaigning for female empowerment in Villa. We witnessed the stark contrast between the affluent areas of Lima to the poverty of Villa El Salvador. Some streets of Villa were covered in rubbish and stray dogs. A number of houses were poorly built and should have been considered inhabitable. The graveyard where Moyano was buried was being used as housing due to a severe lack of space. The slums consisted of roughly 450,000 people.
After we returned to the welcoming Guadix centre, we had lunch, courtesy of our lovely chef, Lucie. We went to see all of the schools and the centres we would be helping out in for the next two weeks. It was shocking to see the minimalistic equipment that these schools had available to them. Yet it was evident how happy all of the children and staff were despite this.
The next morning, we all attended our first day of interacting with the children. We introduced ourselves and got to work. There was an immediate connection between us and the children. They were all very excited to meet us, as we were with them.
After lunch, we all attended our second placement and had a great time getting to know the children there. Once again, we bonded quickly and grew fond of all the children and staff.
After a tiring yet exciting day of work, we all had a tasty dinner and discussed our own experiences of the day. Peoples’ personal stories were shared and any questions or issues were resloved. We headed to bed, all of us excited to see what lay ahead and looking forward to getting to know the children more.
Maggie and Sarah, Peru Crew 2019
Week 1 in Villa, Day 3 – 5
Wednesday was our second morning working in the local schools in Villa El Salvador. We were greeted warmly by the children we met the previous day. This immediatly made us feel welcome. We enjoyed teaching the children and helping the teachers. We played puzzles with the younger groups and helped them with jigsaws. We helped the older children with schoolwork such as maths and even a bit of English. At lunchtime we helped some of the younger children with eating their food. It was really interesting seeing the cultural difference between the food children eat in Ireland and the food children eat here in Villa. At 12 o’clock, we returned to the Guadix centre and Lucie cooked us a wonderful lunch of Lomo Soltado. This is a traditional Peruvian meal which every single one of us enjoyed. After lunch, we went to our afterschool placements where we helped them with their homework and read stories with them. The time flew and before we knew it we were back at the house. That evening, we went to the local church for evening mass. This was an interesting experience because we got to see the religious culture of the area. The church was very big and well kept which dramatically contrasted the surrounding houses. It was a lovely mass and the perfect time to reflect on the previous days.
Thursday was our third day working in the schools. By this time we were all very comfortable in our classes and with the kids. Some of the teachers even let us teach the class about Ireland and the Irish culture. The children were really enthusiastic and this was a really good learning experience for us. That afternoon we introduced new games to them such as hop-scotch and duck duck goose. It was clear to us that they enjoyed these games. That evening, after dinner, we had a meeting with Ellie about our first few days in Villa where we discussed the work of Pedro Poveda. We watched a segment of his movie and it was nice to be reminded of the reason we are here in Villa El Salvador.
On Friday, we only went to the morning placements in the the schools. It was hard to say ‘goodbye’ to them for the weekend and we had to reassure the children that we would be back on Monday. This was because at 3pm we had to leave for our weekend adventures in Ica. We packed up the things we would need for the weekend and prepared ourselves for the long bus ride. The bus ride was around three hours and we arrived at the hostel in Lunahuana for dinner time. We had a lovely Peruvian dinner of seafood and yuca. We went to bed early that night to prepare for an exciting morning of white-water rafting!
Isabelle and Sophie, Peru Crew 2019
Adventures in the South of Lima
On Saturday, we woke up early and headed out to start our weekend packed full of activities. After breakfast, we began the day with a short trip down the river of Lunahuana in a truck on our way to where we would start white water rafting. We all piled into two rafts and set out for our trip along the river. We all had an absolutely fantastic time despite nearly losing a few girls to the vigorous river rapids. We then all climbed to the top of a rock and took turns jumping into the river to be carried along by the rapids. It was an unforgettable experience and definitely a highlight of the trip for many of us. After some hot showers and lunch we got back on the bus and made our way to Paracas. The beachside town was beautiful. We took a stroll along the shore followed by some photos. We then enjoyed a lovely dinner by the beach which brought the day to a close.
On Sunday, we had another early start waking up before seven to go out on a boat to see Las Islas Ballestas. The views were absolutely phenomenal and the warm weather made the trip so enjoyable for us all. We saw the famous white islands along with Peru’s well known Candelabra and Inca Markings. After the boat trip we went to a nature reserve close by Paracas. The scenery again was stunning with amazing views of the cliffs and desert lands of Peru. Despite being a bit of a bumpy ride, we all thoroughly enjoyed the nature reserve and took lots of pictures for our families and friends. After a quick lunch we were back out on the road to head to the desert lands of Huacachina. We were driven up and down the sand dunes in buggies taking in the amazing views whilst also enjoying the ride. We all got the chance to hop on boards and sand board down the steep and not so steep dunes of the desert. We all had a fantastic time taking in the views of the vast desert and tropical oasis. The weekend was one of the best experiences of many of our lives. The views were incredible and we all feel we really got a taste for the adventures Peru and South America have to offer.
Week 2, Day 1-3
We were all happy to return to work when we arrived in Villa on Sunday night. We were up bright and early at 7 am Monday morning to get ready and prepare for another day with the children we had been missing all weekend.
After an exciting morning seeing our kids again, we headed back to Guadix for lunch with Lucie, our phenomenal cook. We were allowed some time to rest and catch up with our parents to tell them all about our jam-packed weekend. Shortly after, we headed to the garden outside Guadix to plant our trees in remembrance of our time here. Ronaldo, a neighbour from Venezuela was kind enough to assist us. We also cleaned the garden and planted many smaller plants. By the end of our work the garden was in tip top shape.
Just before dinner, an unexpected power outage made us sing and dance around a candle. We had great time. The day finished with a candlelight dinner (even if the electricity was back!) and board games and we were tucked into bed by 10:30.
Tuesday was Amy’s 18th birthday so we all woke up early to decorate the kitchen – apart from Amy of course. She was woken up with a glass of orange juice and a chorus of happy birthday. Our mornings continued as normal going to our first placements and playing games all morning. At lunch there were a few more songs for Amy. The local team surprised Amy with a specially decorated table for the birthday cake and a background with a frieze of handmade flowers and letters hanging from the top. Amy’s name decorated the table cloth. (This was a lovely piece of artwork from the children of Guadix Centre). The teachers surprised us all with a delicious chocolate cake. We
departed after lunch for our afternoon placements as always. When we went back from our placements, the children in Guadix Centre sang to the birthday girl and they happily went home with the birthday give-aways prepared by the local team.
The more time we spent with the children at our placements the closer we all became with them, and that was probably the highlight of the trip.
On Wednesday, we went to our morning placements as usual, it was dawning on us that this was our second last day with all of the amazing kids and people we had met. We wanted to do something special for them so the ten of us decide to go to a toy shop and use our own pocket money to buy each of our classes and teachers some new toys and supplies. So after lunch on Wednesday we headed for the toy store. When we returned, we headed straight to our afternoon placements and enjoyed another fun afternoon of playing with all of the children. That night we had another delicious meal cooked by Lucy who always have something special for the three vegetarians in the group. After dinner, before bed we played another competitive game of 30 seconds (our new favourite board game!)
Last few days in Villa El Salvador
On Thursday we went to our placements for the last time. We took our gifts that we had bought the night before with us. I will never forget the look of joy on the children’s’ faces full of toys. Sarah’s children were very curious about the toys and Cameron’s were overjoyed. This just showed how much of an impact just a few toys could make on these children. Unfortunately, like all good things, it came to an end. At the end of the day we had to say goodbye to them. It was heart-breaking to see how the children from Casa Hogar came up to the van and started waving until we drove off. Franco even went as far as pressing his face up onto the window. Sadly, the windows were blacked-out so they couldn’t see us waving back, but that didn’t stop us from knocking on the window to let them know we could see them. After lunch we went to our afternoon placements. We didn’t need to bring toys this time as the morning people had already given them. Both places gave us cute souvenirs to remember them by.
When we got back in the evening we had dinner and then a practice for the Intercultural Meeting with the different schools the next day. We were all so tired afterwards that we just headed up to bed and played music on Sarah’s speaker. It had become a routine, go to bed and play music on the speaker. Friday, the next day, we still had to wake up at the forsaken time of 7:00 in the morning! When we got to Fe y Alegria School, we set up the hall. The Intercultural meeting was quite successful. Every school had a different approach to the theme on Gender Equality. There were scenarios acted out, the history of Villa El Salvador, and the rights of women. For the cultural section we narrated a folklore, sung Tir na nog and showed a video of the Riverdance. A duo from CIFO, the Teresian School in Lima sung a traditional song and Fe y Algeria did an 8-minute-long traditional warrior dance. It was amazing to get to experience some of their culture. At the end we exchanged gifts with the schools and socialized for a bit.
Later on in the day we had to prepare our Irish party in Guadix Centre. We had balloons, music, Irish themed pictures to colour and toys. What more could these children want? We brought down these cute balloons filled with confetti, from Amy’s birthday, for the children to play with. All in all, it was nice to be able to teach the children about Ireland. When the children started to leave we were once again faced with the reality of that we were leaving. Many of us felt as if we had just started to build a relationship with them and now we were leaving. We wanted to stay longer but we also wanted to come home to our families. In these passed 2.5 weeks, we have all grown, personality wise as well as someone becoming a legal adult thrown in. We got to experience Lima’s culture, make friends and meet the most energetic and beautiful children. Instead of being foreigners here to work, it was like Lima accepted us and we became a part of their society. Giving up 2.5 weeks of our summer was completely worth it.
Daniela, Peru Crew 2019
Bímís beo! ¡VíveLO+! Vivez-le plus!