volunteer activities in Peru
One of the greatest gifts you can give another person is your own time. Volunteering in your hometown or while travelling is an excellent way to do this and has many benefits for both the volunteer and the community. Research (1) is showing that regular volunteers have better physical and mental health, longer life expectancies, broader social relationships and a stronger sense of purpose and direction in their lives; this last is especially important for avoiding depression and other mental health conditions. The community receives services it might not otherwise be able to afford and strengthens its social networks.
Cusco Volunteer and Travel:
However, much has been written in recent years about the potential problems of “voluntourism,” the practice of paying money to volunteer in developing countries abroad. If done improperly, volunteer projects may be unsuccessful or even harmful, unskilled foreign volunteers can replace skilled local workers, and volunteering may create a culture of dependence in the country. But when done with good preparation and with a good organization, volunteering can be productive and a way to make your travel meaningful. Here are some tips for looking for responsible volunteer organizations:
the organization has been in the country for a long time and knows the country well;
the organization is a registered charity and regularly publishes its financial statements;
the organization works collaboratively with locals instead of just delivering whatever project they think is best;
pick a position that you have the skills for – don’t volunteer to build a house if you’ve never touched a hammer before.
There are many reputable volunteer organizations in Peru. Here are just a few:
Globalteer, www.globalteer.org A registered UK charity with a variety of projects: dog shelters, children’s after-school programs, and animal rescue and scientific research programs in the jungle.
The Meeting Place, www.themeetingplacecusco.com A cafe with a social conscience: all profits go towards their social projects, and the cafe is run by volunteers to keep overhead low. One can also volunteer at one of their partners: one provides after-school care, training and education for the children of a local community, and the other provides childcare for working single mothers.
Manu Park Volunteer, www.manuparkvolunteer.com The focus is on the protection of the Amaru Mayu Cloud Forest: reforestation, trail maintenance, agricultural projects. Volunteers have a lot of latitude to create their own projects.
Contribution with our grain of sand
The above organizations offer longer term volunteer stays. For shorter stays, Travel and Healing offers a half-day volunteer program at one of two locations. Both of these options are by donation, with all proceeds going towards supporting the projects.:
The first is at Mother of Calcutta. This project is based on helping the mentally disabled seniors and children and their caregivers by cleaning, washing clothes, and feeding. This project helps lighten the work the nuns must perform.
For this project, we bring children from the orphanage Remar out for nature walks.
Please contact us if you are interested in adding a volunteer stay on to your Peruvian journey!