As the nation’s capital city, Lima receives thousands and thousands of visitors each year, most often because it is the major jump off destination for the famous site of Machu Picchu. Lima is one of the most populous cities in the world with a population of over 10 million people, which unfortunately leads to numerous social problems, such as an evident gap between rich and poor. Due to these societal issues, there are many organizations in Lima that work to improve the lives of locals. These organizations, along with the city’s social problems, result in a number of opportunities to volunteer abroad in Lima.
Volunteering in Lima
Lima is a popular tourist destination, yet the wealth derived from the tourism industry does not trickle down to the people who need it most. Therefore, it is possible to volunteer abroad in Lima in a range of fields, to help improve local communities in a multitude of ways. Volunteer placements in Lima include those in education, health care, community development, and various related fields.
Education. International volunteers who wish to create better futures for children will enjoy education volunteering in Lima. It is very common for individuals to volunteer in Lima to teach English at local schools and community centers, but there are also placements teaching other subjects available throughout the city. Volunteers are often assigned to teach in public schools, because understaffing is a major issues and class sizes are therefore large. Additionally, volunteers may find opportunities to volunteer in Lima at orphanages, where it is possible to teach children more informal lessons.
Health Care volunteering in Lima might involve shadowing doctors and nurses during their day to day tasks. Health care volunteers typically work at clinics and hospitals that serve low income families, which also tend to be under-funded and in the greatest need of an extra pair of hands. However, helping support the day to day operations of a healthcare facility requires some type of background in the medical field, so most healthcare volunteers are expected to have educational or professional experience in the field. Volunteers may help healthcare professionals conduct outreach, carry out medical missions (especially in rural areas), or complete daily care of incoming patients. Volunteering in Lima in the realm of health care is a great opportunity for those who wish to expand their medical skills and experience in the field.
Community Development. Those who volunteer abroad in Lima in community development will be working hand in hand with local communities and both local and international non-profit organizations to help meet the needs of underprivileged locals. Community development volunteering encompass a range of placements, including working in orphanages, assisting children with disabilities, and contributing to various community programs and projects. Tasks will often include providing assistance to the administrative body of an organization or community center, researching or assessing programs, conducting outreach, and helping with many other community-related activities.
Life in Lima
The city of Lima is considered to be a melting pot of cultures, because of its European, Andean, African, and Asian influences due to colonization, immigration, and its indigenous people. At the heart of the city is its colonial roots, which makes it home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Historic Center of Lima.
As you walk through the city, a strong mix of regional styles and influences are clearly visible, from early colonial architecture to the dialects being spoken. There has been a large amount of immigration into the city from other provinces and nearby cities, which has diversified the local population slightly. The city is also known for being quite young, as a large percentage of young adults have found their way to live and settle in Lima.
The city of Lima is known as a gastronomical capital of the Americas, with a mix of Spanish, Andean, and Asian culinary traditions. If you are looking for an adventure for food, Lima will not disappoint. Most of the nation’s well-known chefs are found in restaurants scattered around the city.
When in the downtown area, volunteers will be able to visit numerous parks. The city of Lima has several parks that are meant to keep city dwellers active, entertained, and create a connection between the local people and nature.
For those who want to volunteer abroad in a well-planned urban area that has a huge selection of things to do and places to see, as well as a large need for international assistance, volunteer programs in Lima are ideal.
Costs & Affordability
Lima is considered to be an expensive city by South American standards, especially considering it is the nation's capital. However, with great techniques and some local help, you will surely find ways to live cheaply and make Lima a very affordable place to volunteer abroad in Peru.
Since the general standard of living in Lima is high and daily expenses can easily add up, many people opt to make their own food at home as opposed to eating out. Eating out might cost $5 in a small restaurant, but triple fold in a more upscale one, or one that serves international cuisine. Rent is quite expensive in Lima, so volunteers should do their best to find a volunteer program that includes housing if they want to save some money on accommodation costs. However, the cost of food and other items tends to be cheaper outside the city center. Overall, it is best to find a place to live, or a volunteer program in Lima for that matter, that suits your lifestyle without breaking the bank.
Accommodation & Visas
There is a wide selection of accommodation options to choose from when volunteering in Lima. From upscale serviced apartments to shared flats, furnished or unfurnished, finding a place to live as a volunteer in Lima won’t be a problem, especially because most programs include housing arrangements.
Volunteering in Lima is quite easy from a visa standpoint, since there is not a particular visa needed to volunteer in Peru. Anyone can volunteer in Lima with only a tourist visa for up to 183 days. Depending on your nationality, you may or may not have to secure your tourist visa before arrival in Peru however.
Benefits & Challenges
Adjustment. Volunteering in Lima is definitely an experience worth pursuing. Lima is the gateway for international and local tourists to Peru, making transportation highly accessible. However, the metropolitan city of Lima still remains an urban jungle that can be quite challenging to adjust to. As one of the biggest cities in South America and one of the most populous cities in the world, the traffic, chaos, and busy streets of Lima can be daunting for first time travelers.
Art & History. As a volunteer in Lima, you may find yourself witnessing remnants of a civilization dating back multiple millennia, whether in museums or galleries, at festivals, or while tasting the local cuisine, since Peru’s gastronomy is more than 400 years in the making. If you are into art and history, then volunteering in Lima will most definitely be a special treat for you.
Spanish. To top it all off, you can jump start your Spanish learning by becoming a volunteer in Lima. Generally, Peruvian people don’t speak very much English, thus, the need to understand and speak the Spanish language will be crucial on a daily basis, the perfect motivation for language learning!