Volunteering through ABV was truly an amazing experience. It was eye opening to see the lives of those that we were helping.
1.- Whats was a daily schedule at the program, hours volunteered?
We volunteered for 4.5 hour each morning (8:30 AM-12 PM). After the morning shift we would head home for lunch from 12 PM-2 or 2:30 PM. After lunch, you could return to work at the clinic from 2:30 PM-5:30 PM (additional 2 hours). Our evenings after work were free and we were allowed to stay out in the city until 11 PM.
2.- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
- Host Family: I was pleasantly surprised by how involved Maria was with the volunteers! She made sure to show us how to get to work, the town center, where to find the best shopping, etc. She also actively volunteered with us and would invite us to help her with other volunteering tasks! She always made sure we were comfortable in the home and made amazing food for us!
- Program: I was surprised to find out that we could also help out/volunteer in other parts of the city and not just in the clinic! For example, we got to visit a school in Acopia and give the kids there bags with bread, chocolate, cereal, and toys. They were so happy! We also got to visit a hospital for older patients and we gave them some goodies and sang American Christmas songs to them.
- I was also very happy that we were allowed to take weekend trips to see things like the Rainbow Mountains and Machu Picchu!
- Country: The people here are very warm and welcoming! They wanted to include us in what they could and were more than happy to teach us about their culture. Peru is full of so much life and history, it was was amazing to experience it all.
3.- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
- Host Family: The experience with my family was amazing. I think the only issue was figuring who gets to use the shower next since we had quite a few people living here!
- Program: It was challenging that I couldn’t speak much Spanish. I wish I had learned more in order to be able to more effectively communicate with the staff and the kids!
- Country: I definitely recommend that you learn at least some basic Spanish before coming to Cusco! Not everyone speaks English and that can cause some issues if you don’t speak any Spanish.
4.- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, money, internet)
Bring USD to convert to Sols in Peru. You get much better exchange rates in Cusco! Also as I said before, learn some Spanish! Most places in Peru have WiFi you can connect to, it might just be slow.
5.- Other things volunteers should know before coming here (besides Spanish):
- Host Family: Be prepared to live like the people here! Keep an open mind to lifestyle differences and the possibility of sharing space with other volunteers.
- Program: Again, keep an open mind! You’ll be working with people that have a very different life than you and may not have all the same opportunities that you do. Be kind and help out where you can and you’ll do great things!
- Country: Remember that this is a culture that much different than the United States’. People act differently towards one another, eat different foods, etc. As stated previously, as long as you’re open to trying new things and having new experiences, you’ll be perfectly fine!
6.- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
Volunteering through ABV was truly an amazing experience. It was eye opening to see the lives of those that we were helping. It was incredibly rewarding to see how happy the kids in the clinic were to have us play with them! Not to mention the kids and hospital patients we visited in Acopia. It is good to know that by helping out a little bit can really make such a big difference in someone’s life. I can’t wait to visit again!
7.- How would you describe your accommodation: meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
- Meals: Amazing! Maria prepared the best food for lunch! We ate typical Peruvian food and she also recommended the best restaurants in the area if we wanted to go out somewhere.
- Security: Very good. We were in a good area of Cusco and there was a locked gate and front door. We kept it locked at all times.
- Friendliness: Perfect! Maria was extremely kind and genuinely cares about all the volunteers in her home!
- Quality: Exceptional. This trip was made even better by the fact that we got to stay with such a great host!
8.- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country: Airport, orientation, introduction to the program, schedule of the program, friendliness, solving problems?
Maria was amazing! She showed us the best places to go around town, ordered taxis for us if we needed them, and explained everything thoroughly. She clearly outlined the schedule we’d be working and her expectations of us. She was easy to find at the airport too. I will miss her a lot!
9.- Whats was a daily schedule at the program, hours volunteered, activities you did?
We volunteered for 4-5 hour each morning (8:30 AM-12 PM). After the morning shift we would head home for lunch from 12 PM-2 or 2:30 PM. After lunch, you could return to work at the clinic from 2:30 PM-5:30 PM (additional 2 hours). Our evenings after work were free and we were allowed to stay out in the city until 11 PM (over 18).
There were many opportunities for other volunteering activities beside our scheduled work too. For example, we visited Acopia, a small Quechuan village to distribute bags of food and toys that we had made the night previous. We provided enough for a local school and have food to elderly patients in the local hospital.
10.- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
- Accommodation: My favourite part was meeting and making friends with the other volunteers and Maria! I definitely gained some lifelong friendships and memories I’ll never forget.
- Program: My favourite memory of the program was the day we brought the toys and goodie bags to the kids. It was amazing to see how happy the kids were and to be thanked with traditional Quechua songs and dances!
- Country: My favourite memory of the country overall was visiting Machu Picchu! It was amazing to learn the history behind it and to see the beautiful scenery!
11.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling? Emails, chat online, calls, volunteer guide:
Very good! I worked with Sarah Ehlers. She responded very quickly and provided all the information we needed! Made everything very easy to understand.
12.- What do you think about the reservation system online?
It was awesome! It was nice to see which part of the reservation I had completed and which sections I still needed to do. It was very easy to navigate as well.
13.- Who did you find Abroaderview website ?
I found this organization through Google!
14.- Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, that would be fine.