Jenny in the child aid project in Peru
“Warm, breathtaking, beautiful! These are the 3 words that describe Peru. Everything was special! It’s super to be there in a project because then you don’t just get to know the tourist side, but the authentic Peru.”
Jennifer attended a language school in Peru at the beginning of her trip to prepare for her children’s aid project. Afterwards she worked as a volunteer with children in the Teaching Project in Lamay. Here, it was not only about supporting the children, but also about having an open ear for them and spending the afternoon playing and laughing.
In Germany, I have a very structured job. I sit at a desk all day and am part of a project team that configures IT systems. It’s often an exciting job that, above all, pays a lot of money. But if I were to choose a profession without this focus, it would be one that has something to do with children! Many children in Germany have more than they need, so the decision fell on Latin America. I was less concerned with the country itself, but rather with the children who live in that country.
I booked my trip about 4 months in advance. I didn’t have that many thoughts before I left, but was very excited and full of joy. Just before departure we had a zoom conference and WanderWorld Travel answered all open questions during that.
MY FIRST DAYS
I was very lucky that I already met another WanderWorld Travel participant at the airport in Amsterdam, so we arrived together in Lima. The first impression of Lima was overwhelming. It is a big change when you come from the well protected Germany and land there at night. The next day in daylight it looked a bit different. At the introduction day we were four participants and our contact person Carlos. Carlos is a local and showed us the city of Lima, local restaurants and the local drink ‘Pisco Sour’.
The next day I flew on to Cusco. I attended a language school in Cusco to learn Spanish before starting the teaching project. So I also had time to get used to the country and the people. After 2 weeks of classes I went on to Lamay to the children’s aid project. This place is the most beautiful I have ever seen!
Besides me, there were four other volunteers from Spain there. Since the four of them had been there a little longer, they explained everything to me. On Mondays at 2pm the first kids came and it was great! It felt just right and I couldn’t imagine anything better.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
The tasks in the project were dependent on oneself. As a volunteer, you had a free hand and could organize the days with the children as you wanted. Since we were four volunteers in the project, the local employee withdrew a bit and let us take precedence. She supported us in terms of organization or organized material for our activities with the children. There were days when we played UNO and cuddled. There were days when we painted and took a field trip to a small fish farm.
All in all, it was great to see how little you can make kids happy! I learned already on the first day that the world looks different for children in such countries. Just because we in Germany have a different image of an ideal childhood doesn’t mean that children in other countries are less happy – quite the opposite.
MY FREE TIME
The free time I spent with the other volunteers from the project. Before work we visited the surrounding small towns and on the weekends we went to Cusco. There we spent the weekend and made excursions. The Mirador de San Cristóbal is one of the most beautiful places in Cusco for me. You walk up out of the city and have a wonderful view over the city. We also went to the Rainbowmountains, Humantay Lake and took a tour of Sacred Valley. This is a landscape that you don’t have in Germany. Mountains in rainbow colors and a lake at 4,900 m. You are just speechless there. All the trips were beautiful in their own way.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
Warm, breathtaking, beautiful! These are the 3 words that describe Peru. Everything was special! It’s great to be there in a project because you don’t just get to know the tourist side, but the authentic Peru. I have traveled a lot in Asia, but South America is completely different. There are rules that you have to follow. You don’t just go out on the street in the evening and you also take great care of your belongings. But I still felt safe.
I was fascinated by everything about the people. I as a ‘privileged’ German in a country where children have to work, they sleep in cold wooden huts and where they don’t have much to wear. Despite everything, the people radiate such a joy of life. There were initial fears of contact, because as a blond tall woman I looked unusual to most people. But I felt welcome at all times.
I really learned a lot from the people, for example, that material things have little value, or in other words, that many material things are simply not necessary and you can be happy with very little. What surprised me most was the warmth and punctuality of the people.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
There were many great moments that I still remember every day. But the most beautiful and at the same time the saddest was the farewell from the kindergarten. The children collected their money and bought us a cake to say goodbye. When you remember that they hardly have any money, you can imagine how much that meant to us. Instead of buying themselves something to eat, they used the money to make us happy!
WHAT I WAS ABLE TO GIVE TO THE PROJECT
I found it super to see how warmly one is received by ‘strangers’. The children depend on the volunteers and are very grateful. Also the time you dedicate to the children there is very important, because they don’t get so much attention at home and lack hugs and fun. I don’t know if I could inspire the children, but I know that I gave them a lot of love.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
I’m very proud of myself that I was able to break away from German standards and get involved with the realities in Peru. I actually work in IT and have nothing to do with children at work. But the children make it easy. They are happy about everything you do with them, even if it’s just a hug. I’ve definitely developed new perspectives and don’t know how to deal with the spoiled German kids.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
In any case, you should have no fear of contact with children. In addition, one should be warm and open. It is important to be aware that there are no luxuries there. For example, the accommodation in the Teaching Project is very simple. It is run by the family and a few locals from the neighborhood. I had my own room there with a shower. What was different from home was that it was in the middle of the mountains. There were set times when there was hot water and there were several blankets in the bed since there was no heating. In the project, 3 wonderful meals were prepared for us every day. We ate with the others from the project and also sometimes with the family, so we had a nice community.