Urban Systems in Peru 2023 November 21, 2023

Posted in on November 21, 2023


By Kate Zulinick

Urban Systems volunteers downtown Lima Peru

Today the DWC/ Urban team was introduced to each other, along with orientations and pizza. We started our day by taking public transit to the historical city centre of Lima. We were accompanied by a guided walking tour and saw Peruvian dancers from many different regions of Peru. On our tour we also saw 2 different town squares including Plaza de Armas Luna, and Plaza San Martin.

Downtown Lima, Peru

After exploring these squares we also visited San Francisco Monastery and learned about the history’s and visited the catacombs of Lima. After doing so, we visited the Pisco museum as well as the chocolate museum. Both were excellent spots to acquire. Then the group proceeded back to baranco and went to a delicious steak house suggested by Nick. This is where we enjoyed our first meal together as a group. We are very excited to begin our week at the school tomorrow, and take part in the DWC project.

Day 1

By Therese Zulinick

So today, the real labour began. We arrived at the school bright and early and were greeted with great fanfare.  Just as our bus arrived at the school, all the students began a parade through the community to celebrate the day of the rights of children.  They welcomed us into the community with songs and cheers.  What a start to the day! We then had some time with the principal to learn more about the community and the school, and we toured the site.  Joshua (DWC) shared with us the accomplishments over the past few years by our previous Foundation volunteers. 

Shout out to all those who have visted – wow, some amazing advances have been made! We got right to it – moving lumber, removing nails, applying stucco (go Forrest and Dylan!), and moving rocks (big rocks!).  We enjoyed a fabulous lunch from two moms – Vanessa and Beebeeanna.  It was so delicious.  We also had three high school students present projects they are leading to get safer and more secure garbage storage for the community as well as a a reliable bus service for teens to get to and from high school which is many miles away. These students are motivated, entrepreneurial and committed to continuing to make their community better.  We were so inspired! Once the day was over, we had a bit of rest and then found a great dinner spot in the older part of Lima – shout out to Eva! Now weary and tired, we are tucking into bed, and ready for another day.  🙂

Urban Systems volunteer hammering board Peru

Day 2

By Georgia Smith

Urban Systems volunteers preparing breakfast for school kids in San José Obrero School

Today was our second day at the school and what a full day it was. A few of us were there bright and early to take part in the breakfast program and school bus program – I had the honour of making banana pancakes for the kids. We were able to chat with some of the mothers after. It was really amazing to hear their stories about how these programs are making a positive difference in their children’s lives.

We also presented a slide show all about Canada to some of the students. They couldn’t believe it when we told them about bears and bear spray in Canada.

After that, we continued to work on various projects around the school- building a retaining wall, applying stucco, aaaand moving more rocks!

One of todays highlights was the Canada vs. Peru volleyball game in the courtyard. Peru smoked the Canadians in a landslide victory. But don’t worry, we have time to practice before our rematch on Thursday.

We finished the day with a team dinner overlooking some historical ruins right in the middle of Lima! We are so excited to come back tomorrow for another full and rewarding day.

Day 3

By Matthew Moore

Today was Day 3 at the school and it was another action packed day! Part of the team departed early in the morning to assist with breakfast preparation once again as well as view the school bus commute done daily by students.

Urban Systems volunteers purchasing school supplies in Lima, Peru

Work continued on the stucco for the new pastry workshop area walls, as well as continuing the retaining wall. Part of the team procured some much needed school supplies for the students while others helped at the kiosk selling goods to students. Students also got some exercise learning how to play American Football. Part of the team got a tour of the community at large, including the inside of a home near the school while talking to mothers of the children. There was also the opportunity to witness some of the delicious baking done by both students and other kids within the community. After the long day, the team was free to explore the city and grab food at their leisure. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

Day 4

Breakfast for school kids in Peru classroom

Day 4 was a day to remember. We began the day with yet another group departing earlier for the bus to school and breakfast program. I was lucky enough to be apart of this experience in handing the kids their breakfasts and being greeted with many smiles.

As for the work portion of the day, everyone was keeping busy…some of us were helping break oversized rocks down with a sledge hammer while others moved sand etc. In P.E class, we had a group teach the kids some dances from back home in Canada. It was so cool to see the kids having fun and dancing out all their energy! After another amazing lunch, some of us got to take a look at the reinforcement program while another group were invited to visit some of the homes of local families within the settlement. Both experiences were heartwarming and impactful to our team as our gracious host said, “our home may look small, but our hearts are big.”

Day 5

Friday’s blog: 🤗

On our fifth and final day, I think we are all finding it difficult to articulate just what this experience has meant to us, and not just the contribution we feel fortunate to have made here, but the lasting impact this beautiful community has had on each of us.

Finished concrete floor San José Obrero School Peru

This morning was once again filled with hard, sweaty labour as we hustled to finish up all the projects of the week. Last hours of concrete mixing, sand and water carrying, shovelling, stuccoing and more, but also the one thing we all enjoy the most…time with the kids! Final moments of our broken Spanglish in an effort to communicate with the kiddos and earn the giggles and smiles that are the brightest part of everyday.

When our workday ended early, the school community invited us to another delicious lunch and touching celebration honouring some of their outstanding students. The event also included heartfelt speeches from the faculty and students expressing their gratitude for all of our effort over the past week, as well as the many contributions DWC and the Urban Systems Foundation have made over the many years. The surprises continued as they honoured us with some beautiful gifts, many hugs, and even a few tears as we said our goodbyes.

Urban Systems volunteers being introduced at project site in Peru

I think as we wrap up this week and amazing experience, our hearts are feeling both full and heavy. So full from all of the love, passion, and gratitude this inspiring community has shared with us, but also so heavy to be leaving as we’ve grown so attached. Thank you, San Jose Obrero, for opening your hearts and homes to us, for trusting us with your stories, for lighting up our days with your smiles and curiosity, and for honouring us with your friendship. WE WILL BE BACK!!! ❤️🤍❤️

Posted in on November 21, 2023