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Incredible Volunteering in Lima: Costs from USD 180
International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants

Incredible Volunteering in Lima: Costs from USD 180

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

The best decision I ever made

I've wanted to volunteer somewhere since my late teens, and have wanted to go to Peru since around the same time. I'm now 36, and still hadn't done any of the things I wanted to. Once I'd made the decision to do it, Peru was the obvious choice of location. It was to be an easy way in to starting an 8 month trip around South America. I don't really know if I had expectations of what it would be like, all I knew was that I really wanted to make a difference to some lives. I have wanted to do a construction project since the time I decided I wanted to volunteer - so that's what I did! Completely different to my actual career as a Teacher of Geography... I registered with IVHQ, and signed up to do 4 weeks volunteering in construction with their charity in Lima called "Tarpuy Sonqo." It's in Quechua (the Andean language) and it means "Spreading Love." I then set about organising my trip - finally!

I was met at the airport by Wilmer, their very tiny, crazy driver. His favourite joke is to hand the keys to the volunteer and pretend that they will be doing the driving! At one of the traffic light stops he pulls out a phone and insists on taking a selfie. I'm fairly confident this is the only English word he knows...

The volunteer house is actually the charity owner's family home. She lives there with her husband, two sons and wonderful mother (who insists we call her Gran/Abu). You immediately start meeting all the existing volunteers and the other new ones that arrived on the same day as you. By the time orientation happens, you already feel welcomed into both the volunteer family, and the actual family.

Working/volunteering hours are from 8am - 12.30pm 5 days a week, although some projects also work a couple of afternoons a week. You all have the option of working in the afternoons if you want to (which I did do sometimes).

From my very first day of work, I knew I loved it. I was helping to build a children's play park in an orphanage for disabled and special needs children and teenagers. The project was in it's final stages when I joined, which meant I got to see the final result. Working on the project was hard work at times, but always so much fun. I got to work with some amazing volunteers, and our coordinator from the charity really got involved too. I've made a couple of really amazing friends from the construction project, and I think they are lasting friendships. You can't always say that. It quickly became apparent that four weeks was not sufficient. I wasn't ready to go (and I really wanted to help get the park finished). I signed up to do an extra two weeks. This was another fantastic decision of mine.

Spare time in the volunteer house was so much fun. There were crazy nights out and weekend trips away from Lima. Tarpuy Sonqo made it clear that they wanted us to travel whilst we were there, so we were allowed to take days off to go to other places. Without a doubt, my favourite trip was to the Amazon Rainforest near Iquitos. A truly incredible experience! I had several more weeks in Peru after volunteering finished, so I did the most obvious trip during that time (Machu Picchu lives up to the hype).

The rooms in the volunteer house had about 4 beds in each, most had their own bathroom, and there was always lovely hot water. The cook in the house was fantastic! Sole definitely deserves a mention all of her own!

When my six weeks were up (with the project still a few days from completion), I had to hold back the tears as I left. I was about to embark on the travel part of my trip, which was really exciting, but I was so sad to leave my friends, the volunteer house, Lima, and my project.

Four weeks later, I had to return to Lima for a week and a half to collect a parcel. As I was there for so long, it seemed obvious that I should volunteer again, so I signed up for another week. The park was now finished, and the next construction project hadn't started yet, so I volunteered in their childcare/special needs programme. For three days I returned to the orphanage for disabled and special needs children where I had built the park, and I got to witness the park being used and how much joy it brought to the children. It was wonderful! For the other two days, I went to the care home for adults with disabilities and special needs. I loved this week so much. Both the children and the adults were so loving. All they want to do is hug you and dance with you. It was a heart-warming experience. Leaving Tarpuy Sonqo for a second time was equally as hard. Lidia, Maddi, Calvin, Carlby and all the other coordinators do a fantastic job, and they really make the volunteers feel welcome and appreciated. I can't recommend this project and IVHQ enough. It was the best thing I have ever done, and yes, it was a brilliant way to ease myself in to travelling around South America. I am now four months into my eight month trip, and I am loving it all. And I still love my volunteer family. Lima is my home away from home.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 14, 2017 at 3:43 PM

    Hi Amber, Wow! What an awesome review! We couldn’t be happier that you chose to volunteer in Lima as a starting point for your South America adventure. What a great way to ease into such a huge trip and to build a home base for you to return to if you ever need it. It sounds like the work you were involved in was very worthwhile and the photos of the playground you helped complete look amazing. How special is it that you were able to return to your placement to see the playground getting good use?! We are stoked to hear that you are loving your South America trip and we hope to hear more from you in the future.
    Charlotte – IVHQ Peru Cusco Program Manager

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

I won the lottery in Peru!

When I got in the plane to Lima, I was expecting to volunteer with orphanage kids and try to make a small impact in their everyday lives, without really knowing if I was helping them in the long-term, though I thought it might be worth it anyway; even if I only made a small difference in a child's day, I would be happy. I was also expecting that this experience would be positive for my resumé, as an International Development student, and I was hoping to meet a few people along the way, but I was sure that ultimately I would be relieved to finish volunteering and leaving to travel on my own. However, this is not how my experience went. Even though I only did two weeks volunteering with
IVHQ/Tarpuy Sonqo, I have learned more about myself in that period of time than in the last year, I got to be part of a Peruvian family and learn about their culture and way of life, I had the chance to spend time and create strong bonds with teenage mothers who are in a difficult situation, and I got to meet people who ended up becoming very important to me. At the end of it all, I couldn't care less about my resumé and couldn't be more heartbroken about leaving the volunteers, coordinators, homestay family and inspiring teenage girls. When my two weeks were done, I felt like the richest person in the whole world, because I had lived a priceless experience which I will remember forever and am eager to repeat.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review October 11, 2016 at 5:53 PM

    Thanks for your beautiful review! We’ve loved having you as an IVHQ volunteer and we are so humbled to hear how life changing this experience has been for you. We would be thrilled to have you join us again in the future.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

IVHQ childcare volunteer in Lima

This was overall a good experience. The family that hosted the volunteers are very friendly and kind. Peru is a beautiful country. There was a lot of free time, so I thought that more time could have been spent at the volunteer centers.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review January 09, 2017 at 5:54 PM

    Thanks for sharing. We are happy to hear that you had a good time in Lima and experienced kindness and beauty. It is important to have a balance between volunteering and free time, although it can be hard to get this balance right for all volunteers. If you have any suggestions regarding the program please let us know - we will be happy to take your feedback on board!
    Lachlan – IVHQ Lima Program Manager