Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Machu Picchu Challenge.

The Journey Begins: Volunteering in Lima

Posted in Machu Picchu Challenge on April 20, 2018

Meeting Our Beneficiaries

Our volunteer team, under the leadership of Doug Wittal arrived safely in Peru on Sunday afternoon after an overnight flight from Vancouver to Mexico City and Mexico City to Lima. This is a much bigger city than I imagined; the van driver told us the population was 11 million. I had no real expectations about Lima but assumed as it was on the ocean, it would be humid and lush. I was wrong on both counts. It is a very dry place; Lima gets very little rain so it is actually very dry and much of the city is very brown.

Our team is 11 strong; 10 from Kamloops and one from the US.

Dinner Sunday night was at a really beautiful restaurant called Huaca Pucllana; it has lots of open are and is surrounded by Inca ruins called. It was great to get out and walk after hours on planes and in airports and Mira Flores (the area in Lima where we are staying) is a very safe and the temperature is quite nice.

We had a very early start on Monday (6:30am!) and after the mandatory Starbucks stop, we were driven about 1 hour to the school where we are working with our partner. The school is called San Jose Obrero. The partner is IFEJANT. It is actually quite shocking to drive there. You leave the beautiful lush area where we are living, travel through this big, busy city to an area that is so completely different. To access the school, you need to drive up a steep, unsaved road full of tuc tucs, a few cars, and the odd truck.

This school is not government funded. It is funded entirely by donations. The area is arid, rocky, and has steep hills on all sides. The school has been carved out of the side of the hill and exists on many levels so we are constantly climbing stairs. The homes around the school are perched on the edge of the hills and there are long stairways all around to take people to their homes. The homes are mostly very small rectangular structures with a tin roof. Many have no electricity and they have huge and expensive challenges to get any water to their homes. And yet the children show up for school looking neat and clean!

We are working on a two story addition which will be used for classroom space and trades education. We are constructing the rebar frames for the structural pillars for a two story addition to the upper most area of the school.
A few of our team members spent some time in the classroom and also went to visit a family at home. Besides all the iron work, we are also supporting the painting of the student run kiosk at the school. The kiosk sells snacks and drinks as well as some fresh baked goods; the children learn how to bake in the kitchen constructed by DWC volunteers from the past.

As with my other DWC experiences, the partner feeds us an amazing lunch; this one is cooked in the kitchen at the school. The food is great and features some Peruvian specialties.

Watching the kids play soccer on the dry patch of dirt that is littered with trash is a little heartbreaking but the smiles on these kids faces and their shy calls of “hello” and “good morning” almost makes you forget how truly poor these families are. I must also note that everywhere you look there are dogs wandering although most look well fed and generally pretty healthy which is quite different from some of the countries that I have visited.

Lisa Lake, DWC Machu Picchu Challenge 2018

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