Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.


Adventuring into Peru’s culture and history

Posted in Peru on May 1, 2018

Day 1: Path of Discovery

We arrived in Lima in the early morning hours. We were picked up and taken to our hotel where we promptly checked in and went to sleep.

After a few hours of rest and some wandering Miraflores, we were picked up at the hotel by our tour guide, Astrid, from Llama Path. We were escorted by bus past the Leap the Monk and La Herradura beach, two interesting tourist stops in Lima.

We had an hour’s drive to our final destination, Pachacamac. First, we went through the museum and then we hiked around the archeological site, viewing temples from four different periods of pre-Inca and Inca history. These included the Temple of Patchacamac, the Painted Temple and the Temple of the Sun. It was an incredible tour through history and gave us a great appreciation for Peru. We were definitely energized for the weeks ahead!

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 2: Paddling the wild Pacific

With another day off before we start the work week ahead we arranged to go kayaking on the ocean outside of outside of Lima. We arranged a ride to Playa Yuyos, where we met our guide Alvarez from Peru Sea Kayaking.

Some of us were nervous because there appeared to be large waves crashing against the beach, we received some introductory lessons from Alvarez before heading out onto the water. It was a beautiful day to enjoy a paddle on the ocean.

We spent the next few hours getting a different view of Lima from the water. While we did not see any animals, we did see swimmers and other boaters on the water and just enjoyed a relaxing Sunday.

Afterwards we wandered Miraflores, exploring the markets and finding some great food. It was wonderful to get to Lima a few days early to get our bearings and experience some of the local history.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 3: Rolling up our sleeves

Today was our first day at work and we hit the ground running. After an hour’s drive to the school, we were escorted around by Elvira from IFEJANT.  We got a tour of the school and the neighbouring community building and were introduced to some students and staff at the school, including the principal, Ivan.

After the tour was complete we were handed over to Miguel, the construction boss, who quickly put us to work. We spent the day digging holes, preparing rebar, and getting columns set up. We mixed piles of cement by hand to secure the rebar in place to begin the structure of the room we are building. The day was very busy but we were fueled by a wonderful lunch prepared by local mothers at the school. I think we can say we were all exhausted and ready for a good shower.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 4: Holiday Tour

Today was a national holiday – International Workers’ Day. Our group participated with the school in a march for workers’ rights, traveleling through downtown Lima. It is a very large and important event as workers’ in Peru are still fighting for a number of basic protections.

Afterwards, Javier, our interpreter, took us for a tour of downtown Lima. We saw the President’s Palace and a number of churches before taking the very squished train back to our hotel for some much needed rest.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 5: Hands On Experience

In just two days of work we are already starting to see a great deal of progress on the job site. We’ve been getting the site ready for the construction of a workshop for both children at the school and children in the community.

Today involved a lot of rock chipping, rock carrying, cement mixing, and adventures up into the hills to Miguel’s house to carry wood down for us to use. There was a lot of hard work but the volunteers were kept motivated by the smell of carrot muffins wafting out of the cooking class of some of the children.  Thankfully the muffins were put for sale in the kiosk they run so we could buy some after smelling them all day!

Two of the volunteers spent a half an hour with the grade one class working through some math homework. They really enjoyed getting some hands on experience with the children and once again, Javier, our interpreter, was priceless in this experience.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 6: New skills and art-is-try

Some of the volunteers took a break from construction today to assist the children with painting the kiosk. The kiosk is a small shop run by the students where they learn about business by selling various goods like water, popsicles, cookies and juice. It is a great learning opportunity that helps prepare the children for work when they are old enough. The painting project was started previously by another group of volunteers but there is still work to be done. We are hoping to have the art work painted by the time we leave.

The rest of the group is being kept busy by Miguel with the construction of the workshop. We are pretty sure we are all going to leave here with a Red Seal in one trade or another!

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 7: Human chain

To put end our first work week in Peru we had to move 1000 bricks! This was a great example of how much you can get done as a team. We formed a human chain and were able to get the bricks off the road and safely onto school property in a relatively short amount of time. If we were not there, and it was just Miguel and his men, this would have been a long and exhausting feat. However, we got it done and were able to get working on the next layer of the outer wall.

There are many different tasks involved in getting this room built. From working on rebar, picking rocks, getting nails out of boards or hauling sand, we are definitely keeping busy. Despite how hard we are working this first week has flown by!

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 8&9: On the town

When the weekend came we were determined to make the most of it! On Saturday we did a group tour through Lima visiting historical sites and a few churches. Saturday afternoon was free time and we broke off into small groups to explore, souvenir shop and get some well needed rest. Some of the group went to the 5th best restaurant in the world for dinner, Central, and were lucky enough to meet the Chef!

Sunday, the team split into groups to explore. Half of us went on a bike tour of Lima while another group visited a local fishing village. We all ran into each other in the afternoon in the bohemian district of Barranco. Both groups had a fantastic day exploring some of the amazing things Peru has to offer

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 10: The walls take shape

Monday! Hi ho! Hi ho! It’s off to work we go! Today, many of the bricks that we moved and stacked last week were put to good use. Two of the local workers laid bricks while we shovelled more sand, mixed concrete, levelled the ground for a future floor, and removed nails from more wood to make forms for pouring concrete around the building columns this week. By the end of the day a good portion of the walls were taking shape. We all admired the progress and had a sense of accomplishment in seeing how much we had all helped to complete on this new building for the community to use.

For lunch, the ladies prepared yet another delicious traditional Peruvian meal. Our bellies full and feeling satisfied, combined with being tired from all our hard work in the hot sun, we were ready for a mini siesta. We all laid our heads down at the lunch table for a few minutes much to the amusement of a few school children who happened by. The afternoon flew by. Some members of our group helped some of the children in class prepare Mother’s Day gifts rolling news paper into long tubes as part of their art projects. The children had also made a poster for their new friends from Canada.

Candice Lantos, Volunteer

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 11: Soccer, soccer and more soccer

The kids of Villa Maria love soccer. They play before school, at breaks and after school. Today a few of us were lucky enough to kick the ball with some students while they were waiting for their parents to pick them up. I think it’s fair to say they are much better at it than we are.

We also took a break from work this afternoon to visit the home of a grade 3 student, Alexander. His mom welcomed us in with a traditional Peruvian drink, chicha, made from purple corn. She told us of the struggles they have faced moving here a year ago from the mountains. It is a story that unfortunately could be told by thousands of families in the area. They are thankful that Alexander can attend the school and will hopefully have better prospects for work. It really drives home how extremely lucky we are in Canada and reinforces the work we get to do volunteering with DWC.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 12: Speaking the same language

Today was our last day with all of the local labour. While we don’t speak the same language you find a way to communicate over time. The guys were incredible workers and always there to help us out when we needed a little extra muscle or help finding the right tool. The next two days won’t be the same without them.

Today was also special for another reason, it was one of our volunteer’s birthdays. While she didn’t get a break from work the kids surprised her at lunch with a sign they made, some flowers and a song.

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

Day 13: Seeing it all come together

So we are finally nearing the end. Most of the heavy lifting is done and we are working on small jobs and site clean-up. It is incredible to see how much we have accomplished in such a short period of time. From a few small holes in the ground when we got here, to now having four walls, a relatively level floor waiting to be completed and a structure ready for a roof is amazing. There has been a lot of hard work and sweat, and I mean A LOT, but it is all worth it when you can see things start to come together.

One more work day to go!

Heather Mass, Team Leader

DWC Team Peru, May 2018

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