Volunteer Name: Abby Kingston
Project Location: Cusco, Peru
Volunteered at: Centro Salud & Orphanage
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
Maria Elena was absolutely wonderful! I felt as though I had all the support I needed to be successful when volunteering and when navigating a new country and culture. I felt very comfortable asking her anything; she made me feel right at home!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Host Family: How absolutely wonderful Maria Elena is!! We couldn’t have gotten along better. She also has a woman, Alejandra, who works for her (cooking, cleaning, etc) who is there most days, and is incredibly nice and welcoming.
Country: How affordable everything is! Cusco is by far the most affordable place I have ever been; your money goes a long way! Also, traffic is completely different that in the US; pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way! Be careful when crossing the street.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Host Family: There really weren’t any challenges that I faced with Maria Elena; smooth sailing!
Country: I didn’t have any real challenges with the country, only maybe that it took a day or two to get used to using Soles (Peruvian money).
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1. Definitely bring all different types of clothing; layering is a must as it is cold in the mornings and at night, but warm during the day.
2. GO TO MACHU PICCHU
3. I found it much easier to buy donations in Cusco; it is much cheaper, and easier than bringing everything in your luggage.
4. Bring chap-stick and lotion, it is very dry because of the altitude.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
The money exchange rate is fantastic! Everything is extremely affordable in Cusco (for example a ten minute cab ride is about 4 soles, which is about $1.25).
Go to a travel clinic before you travel and get all of the necessary vaccines you need! Also, Diamox (acetazolamide) is a medication for altitude sickness that they can prescribe for you; I took it as directed and didn’t have any altitude sickness! They should also prescribe you Ciprofloxacin, in case you get traveler’s diarrhea.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
Overall I had an amazing time in Cusco! The people here are so nice and welcoming, the weather is gorgeous, the city and mountains are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and the food is great (definitely try ceviche at least once, it’s amazing)! You certainly have to be able to roll with the punches, and if you’re more Type A, you definitely need to turn that switch off! The work is great, but you have to be very assertive and have some Spanish skills. The patients are incredibly thankful and tough as nails, and it is so rewarding to just do simple things like give vaccines or hold a hand. Working at the orphanage was fantastic as well! The girls are so excited to meet someone new. The majority of the time I helped with homework (math, grammar, English), and when their homework was done we played volley ball! I think what they needed most was just hugs and affection. It´s been an incredible, eye opening experience, and I’m truly sad to be leaving tomorrow! I hope someday I’ll be able to visit Peru again!!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others: Maria Elena’s home is modern and very comfortable! I felt welcome from the moment she picked me up from the airport (she was right there waiting for me). She has a large lock on the door, which was locked from the inside at all times, and I had my own key! The neighborhood (and city) is very safe; I never felt nervous when I was on my own. Meals were delicious (especially lunch)! I was welcome to help myself to anything, at any time!
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: Working in the clinic (healthy children) for the well-baby visits! It was a blast! The kids are all adorable, and the families are so appreciative.
Host Family: Every day with Maria Elena was fantastic, but if I had to pick one thing it would be having lunch everyday with her, her father, and the other volunteer!
Country: Machu Picchu was by far the most beautiful place I have ever been! It is well worth the extra money!!! I would recommend it to every volunteer coming to Cusco!
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
It was great! Any questions I had were quickly answered by Sarah and Maria Elena!
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
The online reservation system works well.
9.2- Who did you find Abroaderview website
I searched on Google and entered “volunteer nursing abroad” “nursing volunteer program” “nursing abroad” etc.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, if limited to email only.