Hello! I promised I would tell more about my trip to Peru, and I aim to keep that promise. But first, let’s just go ahead and get the picture of me and a really happy llama out of the way.
A few months back my group applied for and received a Change Ambassadors Grant from Travelocity’s very awesome Travel for Good program. They have a wide variety of service projects to choose from, and we eventually settled on the GlobeAware Care for Cusco program.
Why? Do you SEE the llamas? (Actually we wanted the opportunity to work with the kids)
Cusco is surrounded by incredibly remote villages that are only reachable, if you have a car, by a two+ hour trip on bumpy dirt roads. Since the people who live there don’t have cars, the trip is an arduous one hour walk and a three hour bus ride. Since the parents in the remote villages want to send their kids to Cusco to school so they can have a better future, some Cusqueños opened an “albergue” for these kids to stay in Cusco during the week, to go to school and learn extra Spanish and English in the afternoons and evenings. Then they make the four+ hour return to their villages on the weekends. It’s not really an orphanage, but some of the kids who live there are orphans.
Volunteers from the US come to the albergue a few times a year to help improve the house by day and work with the kids to play games and teach English in the evening. The main project we worked on while there was the construction of a stone bench so that the kids could watch each other play futbol and voley (aka volleyball).
It really ended up being a fine bench, if I do say so.
The kids were incredible, hilarious, and very eager to improve their lives. They come from some of the most humble and geographically remote places on Earth (I have never seen mountains like the mountains in Peru), and they welcomed us with open arms. They can also play a mean game of Uno.
While there we also….
Went to a remote village to help a family build a new stove out of mud and straw:
Played futbol atop ancient Inca ruins (well, technically the kids played while I choked on thin air from the hike up. Did I mention Cusco is 11,000 feet??):
Celebrated birthdays by stuffing our faces with cake (a tradition, or so they claimed):
Wore alpaca wool hats while visiting a pre-Inca volcanic salt farm:
And of course made the trip to Machu Picchu:
All in all it was simply an incredible, amazing trip, and not an exaggeration to say it was life changing. It’s easy to get so caught up in life and work and one’s own challenges and to forget the incredible need out there both around the world and in our own backyard. I know we’re in a tough economic climate, but if you have the opportunity I cannot recommend a volunteer trip enough.
Here are the links again, please check them out and give it some thought!