Volunteering in Peru: A Teen’s Point of View of Cusco
Hi, my name is Kristi Allen and I just got back two weeks ago from volunteering in Peru with ABV for three months. I am 17 and my mother was somewhat apprehensive about sending me to South America. However her fears were alleviated from the moment I signed up with the program. First of all, I would like to say that I had an amazing time in Peru and ABV was incredibly professional and well run. I volunteered in a school and an orphanage and lived with an older Peruvian couple and one other ABV (American) volunteer. The couple I lived with were incredibly kind and welcoming, I felt very at home in their house. I also had an (English speaking) ABV adviser living in Cusco who I could call with any questions and problems, and she took the time to show us around Cusco and check up on us at least weekly to make sure we were doing okay with our programs. She also offered the flexibility to change volunteer sites if a particular program wasn’t working out, but I loved both of the places I volunteered.
I worked as a helper in a class of kids ages 1-3 at the school and helped take care of disabled children at the orphanage. It wasn’t exactly a situation where you created your own job, but they did expect some level of self sufficiency. There was also always work for me at the volunteer sites and there were always people there I could ask for help (though not always English speakers). I had the weekends off to travel or just hang out.
My ABV adviser was reliable and Sarah in the USA office has been incredibly helpful throughout the whole process. I lived in a comfortable apartment in a small complex that was centered around a park. It was very quiet and safe. I had my own room and I could walk to the center of Cusco, which is very safe. Cusco is a tourist city, so there’s a lot of pickpocketing but I was never robbed, and I never met anyone else who was robbed in Cusco.
I felt safe walking home from the center to my house at night, but there are always plenty of taxis and they cost about a dollar to get anywhere. As Cusco is a tourist city, they have a tourist police bureau and many locals who speak English. (As a side note, Cusco is an absolutely beautiful city with loads of restaurants, museums, and other things to do. I had no trouble finding things to do for three months and I would go back in a heartbeat.) As I mentioned, I lived with an 18 year old American volunteer, so yes, there are other teenagers in the program. There were also two college girls that were only there for three weeks. I got along well with the other volunteer and it was nice to have someone to speak English with because my host family only spoke Spanish. I had an amazing in Peru and I would vouch for ABV completely.