Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.

Lima, Peru: The richness of the Experience.

Posted in Peru on May 26, 2011

We now have nearly three weeks of volunteer work under our belts on this trip. The nine of us have undoubtedly gained insights and experiences that would not have been attainable any other way. San Jose Obrero, the school we are working at, has a strong community and culture that has been humbling to witness, even in the most poverty stricken areas I have ever seen.

While the residents of Villa Maria seem comfortable with their modest lives, from a Canadian perspective it is amazing to think that so many of the world's 7 billion live in similar conditions. Their hospitable and collectivist nature means that we are never short of helping hands, even from mothers with babies on their backs and the keen primary school kids.

Our structure is coming along very nicely. Now in the second half of the project, we are short on supplies so some of the lumber and roofing materials are being reused from old buildings. Today everyone was very busy all day, filling, sanding, priming, roofing and interacting. We have all been challenged in a number of ways, be it our patience, interpretation skills, or dealing with adverse situations such as stepping on nails (that was me).

The language barrier has made it tough to talk to the people about anything beyond the basics. We would all agree that our IFEJANT meetings have provided massive insights about the local slums, because we have had a translator who has provided great relief and knowledge. We have learned that children who work can provide nearly as much income as their parents, and are vital to family wellbeing. Kids may be as young as seven when they start to work, and schooling is just a single important part of one's education. The vast majority of youngsters above that age in Villa Maria probably work.

Even the craziest challenges on the trip have only added to the richness of the experience. We've found motivation through the sunny afternoons we've been blessed with, the smiling faces of the locals, and through each other. I cannot wait to complete our project and share what I've learned about a diverse country, community and people.

Matt Melville
DWC Student Volunteer

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