REPORTS FROM FORMER INCAS DEL PERU VOLUNTEERS
Ryan and Chelsea McClain
We both quit our jobs in March of 2005 with the intentions of going abroad for a few months. We started with 6 weeks of Spanish language courses in Costa Rica. We returned to the US for a month to figure out our next plan. We wanted to volunteer in a Latin American country for a few months. We thought of the places we wanted to see and of course Peru was at the top of the list. We did a search on the Internet of volunteer programs in Peru and Incas del Peru popped up.
One of the things that drew us to Incas was the no volunteer placement fee and we would receive significant discounts on food and lodging. We had been looking around and one of our constraints was money and most organizations charge heavy fees to volunteers.
We really wanted to volunteer but weren’t sure if we could afford it. We had sent an info seeking email to Lucho and he replied promptly and after struggling to find decent priced plane tickets we arrived in Peru.
The first 2 weeks that we were in Huancayo, Lucho was on a tour. Rosario met us at the bus station and got us started in our tasks.
We spent that time getting to know the area and the various villages, helping out with breakfast in the morning, and reviewing the website. Reviewing the website…wow! 70+ pages! We didn’t realize that this task would end up taking the entire 3 months.
Once Lucho got back into town we joined him on some of the typical tours so we could further explain the details to tourists who passed through La Casa de la Abuela and to possibly lead them in the future if needed.
We were fortunate to go on the Artisan Tour, 1 Day Huaytapallana Tour, Market Tour, and 5 Day Jungle Tour and many local village tours and walks. We also accompanied him along with 13 tourists to an unforgettable Santiago party at the base of Huaytapallana where we captured llamas to replace the ribbons in their ears.
Ryan did lead one 5-day jungle tour. I will admit, I was a little nervous about it at first, having gone only once before. The trip was with three guys from Israel, fresh out of the army. The local guide who works for Lucho and leads the actual hikes really pushed all of us. We were all worn out at the end of each day and the warm meal at the end left everyone feeling satisfied. In the end, I realized just how much I had learned from Lucho on that first trip and about Peru in general, preparing me for this trip. I think it was a great success for all and a lot of fun for me. I am just disappointed I didn’t get to do it again.
We spent every morning helping to prepare breakfast and to make sure Abuela didn’t prepare 10 marmalades when there were only 2 tourists or put an empty pot on the hot stove. Neither of us had ever been waiters before and when 15 Canadians were eating at the same time and all wanting eggs cooked different ways, it really tested our abilities. Around the breakfast table we would explain the local sights to tourists and provide them with maps and brochures. When needed we helped prepare dinner and now we know how to make papaya marmalade.
Several of our projects involved publicity for Huancayo and Incas del Peru. We reviewed several brochures Lucho was working on and completely revised the Jungle and Mountain Trip brochures (even though they never did get printed while we were here).
We traveled to Lima twice and visited around 50 hostels, passing out brochures to place at their front desks.
It was always nice to here when someone arrived at La Casa de la Abuela to take a Spanish course after seeing a brochure at one of the places we visisted.
One of our visits was timed so that we could return to Huancayo on the “Highest Train in the World”. Since this 12 hour journey runs very irregularly, it was a great opportunity. We passed out some flyers and enjoyed the ride. We also visited businesses in Huancayo to find out if they wanted to participate in a new tourist map of Huancayo that Incas was putting together.
One of the final activities we did was with a student in the natural dyes course. We scanned the Natural Dyes manual into our computer and changed most of the text into English.
We also helped translate instructions given by the instructor and documented the class for future reference.
The final ongoing project was documenting all the tours and activities with photographs.
In the end we provided around 600 photos on 2 CDs. Some went into the brochures and hopefully we will see some pop up on the new website when it is implemented.
Overall, our time with Incas del Peru was a very rewarding experience. We had the opportunity to participate in many things that we would not have been able to as just regular tourists.
The variety of tasks kept it interesting the whole time.
We met many people from all over the world as they passed through La Casa and of course, our Spanish is much better now than when we arrived. We are leaving Huancayo with many stories to share and a better understanding of the real Peru and will hopefully encourage more people to visit the Mantaro Valley.
Thanks for the opportunity!
Jeroen Cremers & Debby Coumans, Holanda
From 12 to 25 July 2007
we did voluntary work for the Aldea el Rosario, an orphanage.
Through the Incas del Peru we got in touch with the Aldea El Rosario. We found out about the Incas del Peru because of a flyer we found in a hostal in Lima. The Incas del Peru introduced us in the Aldea and helped us whenever we had questions. This report is written for the use of Incas del Peru.
The director of the Aldea, Dr Ruben Hugo Paredes Longobardi asked us to provide him with an Excel sheet regarding stock management from 31 December 2006 until 30 June 2007. This Excel sheet needs to contain all stock objects and all mutations per object per user per month.
To perform this assignment we mainly had to work on a computer. Besides that we also had to consult the director and Sra. Amelia Herquinigo Cardenas. Sra. Amelia is in charge of the inventory and she provides the stock items to the houses (´modulos´) and divisions.
Luckily our work was not restricted to the main assignment only. We also visited the Aldea many times. A few times we joined the children with sport events and fiestas.
2. Working days
Wednesday 11 July 2007
Together with Rosario from the Incas del Peru we walked to the Aldea El Rosario. The director was not there but Rosario introduced us to a couple of children and showed us some houses where they live. We talked about what we can do for the Aldea:
- make a priority list for the Aldea (what can future volunteers do, in what period of time)
- once a week accompany a mother with the children on an outdoor activity
- clean the inventory room, order and give every article a code
- help the director with the administration of the inventory.
Working hours: 2
Visit the Aldea 17.00pm – 19.00pm
Thursday 12 July 2007
Again this morning we walked with Rosario to the Aldea. She introduced us to the director and Sra. Amelia. There are 10 houses (´modulas´) and 1 house where the director lives. There are also some other divisions like enfermeria, panaderia, etc.
The director wants us to make an overview in MS Excel per article of the stock, per month. The period of the sheet has to concern 31 December 2006 to 30 June 2007.
We gathered all the following information:
- inventory list of 30 November 2006 (31-12-2006 was not available)
- inventory list of 30 June 2007 and a floppy disk with the Excel file of this list
- purchases weekly overviews of the articles provided per house
Next we went to the hotel and worked the afternoon behind the computer. We brainstormed about the format of the Excel sheet; the best way to make the requested sheet/overview.
We made a copy of the inventory list of 30 June 2007 in Excel (names items, quantities and prices) and typed the quantities of 30 November 2006 in the sheet. We made a total sheet and to prevent that the Excel sheet would get too big, we made several smaller sheets based on the item groups that were already in use by the Aldea.
These item groups are:
1. Alimentos y pronaa food
2. Aseo cleaning materials
3. Bazar clothes
4. Ferreteria hardware
5. Libreria writing materials
6. Medicina medicines
7. Panaderia bakery items
8. Otros, utensilios y bienes patrim. other items
Working hours: 7.25
Visit the Aldea 10.30am – 12.45pm
Computer work 14.00pm – 15.15pm
16.00pm – 19.45pm
Friday 13July 2007
First we made a sheet per modula/division. We showed it to Rosario before we went to the Aldea. Then we discussed the sheets with the director. He would like a more specified overview per article (all the ´ingresos´ and ´egresos´).
We went back to the hotel and adjusted the sheets. We added a sheet per article. In the afternoon we tested the sheets by entering some mutations of the month December 2006.
We also typed the ´comprobantes de bienes semanales´ of the weeks 48 until 52 in the sheet.
Working hours: 8.5
Visit the Aldea 09.30am – 11.00am
Computer work 11.00am – 13.30pm
15.30pm – 17.45pm
17.45pm – 20.00pm
Saturday 14July 2007
We went to the Aldea to show the director our work and it was ok.
Because there was a sport day, we stayed and played with the kids (referee, football and volleyball).
In the afternoon we worked again behind the computer and processed the ´comprobante´of week 53. Also we typed in the ´resumen detaillado´ 1 of December 2006 and ´nota de pedido´ of division #1,2 and 3.
Working hours: 8.25
Visit the Aldea 09.00am – 14.15pm
Computer work 15.45pm – 19.45pm
Sunday 15 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela.
We mainly typed the ´nota de pedido´ of division #4 until 16 and of modula A until J.
Working hours: 6.25
Computer work 09.15am – 13.30pm
15.00pm – 17.00pm
Monday 16 July 2007
We went to the Aldea to talk to Amelia and asked her questions about the different forms.
Because it was Dia del Niño we stayed and listened to them singing the national anthem. Later a clown appeared who entertained the children.
In the afternoon we worked again behind the computer and processed the two ´resumen detaillado´ of January 2007 and the answers we got from Sra. Amelia.
Working hours: 7.25
Visit the Aldea 09.00am – 13.30pm
Computer work 14.30pm – 16.15pm
17.30pm – 19.30pm
Tuesday 17 July 2007
We went back to the Aldea to ask more questions to Amelia. In the afternoon we worked again behind the computer and needed all day to process the answers of Amelia.
Working hours: 7.75
Visit the Aldea 09.30am – 12.30pm
Computer work 12.30pm – 13.30pm
15.00pm – 17.00pm
17.45pm – 19.30pm
Wednesday 18 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela.
We mainly typed in the ´resumen detaillado´ of February and March 2007 and the ´comprobante´ of week 1 until 7 of 2007.
Working hours: 8.25
Computer work 09.00am – 13.30pm
14.15pm – 17.30pm
19.00pm – 19.30pm
Thursday 19 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela.
We mainly typed in the ´resumen detaillado´ of April and May 2007 and the ´comprobante´ of week 8 until 16 of 2007.
Working hours: 8.50
Computer work 09.00am – 13.00pm
14.30pm – 19.00pm
Friday 20 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela and just go by the Aldea to get more papers (input).
We mainly typed in the ´resumen´ of June 2007 and the ´comprobante´ of week 17 until 23 of 2007 (week 20-23 only ´aseo´).
Working hours 7.75
Visit the Aldea 11.30am – 12.30pm
Computer work 09.15am – 11.30pm
16.00pm – 19.30pm
Preparation activity 15.00pm – 16.00pm (buying gifts treasure hunt)
19.00pm – 19.30pm
Saturday 21 July 2007
In the morning we worked behind the computer and processed the ´comprobante´ of week 21 until 23 (´alimentos´).
Because there was a sport day, we stayed and played with the kids (football and volleyball). Also we did a treasure hunt with the kids.
Every house had to find a beer felt (carton Crystal). Every house got a gift to share (color pencils, color book, magazines, stickers,
paneton). Lucho gave us a voucher for a free dinner of the winning house. But the director wanted to give this price later in the day to the house which was best decorated for Liberation Day. We also gave the children a table football game in name of Lucho / Incas del Peru.
They loved it.
In the afternoon we started with typing the ´nota de pedido´ of modula A of 2007.
At 16.00pm we went back with cakes. We bought these cakes because today is the celebration of the birthday of all the children.
We had to join a jury and judge all the decorated houses. The children even sang songs and were wearing costumes (house F won the contest). Afterwards they held a party for everybody and we joined and danced with them.
Working hours: 9
Visit the Aldea 09.45am – 13.00pm
15.45pm – 19.30pm
Computer work 09.00am – 09.45am
14.30pm – 15.45pm
Sunday 22 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela .
Because we could not open our files on ´mis sitios de red´ we started on a manual for the Excel sheet and a Word file with our activities report.
In the evening we went to La Cabaña to meet with the winners of the contest, house F. We ate pizza with them and told stories (mainly answered all their questions).
Working hours: 5.5
Computer work 09.00am – 11.30pm
14.30pm – 17.30pm
La Cabaña 18.00pm – 21.00pm
Monday 23 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela and on a computer in the office of Incas del Peru because our work of yesterday was erased on the c-drive.
Because there is no time enough for us to process all the paper forms until June 2007, we will start by making all the links and formulas in the sheets.
Working hours: 8
Computer work 09.00am – 13.30pm
16.00pm – 19.30pm
Tuesday 24 July 2007
The whole day we worked at la Casa de la Abuela and on a computer in the office of Incas del Peru. We went on with making all the links and formulas in the sheet and we started again by making this activities report and the manual in MS Word.
Working hours: 9.5
Computer work 09.00am – 13.30pm
17.00pm – 21.00pm
Burning photo cd 15.30pm – 16.30pm (all the pictures we made of the Aldea)
Wednesday 25 July 2007
Today we first went to the Incas del Peru to print our manual. After that we went to the Aldea to teach Sr. Amelia how to use the Excel sheet. We saved all the files on a cd and copied the files on to the computer of Amelia.
After the lunch we went back to continue. At the end we went to Incas del Peru and explained to Rosario what we have done. All our files are saved on ´Jeronimo en Lucho´:
Unfortunately we do not have enough time to complete the assignment, but hopefully Sra. Amelia can finish the job. Or maybe a new volunteer can help in the future (with the help of the manual).
We gave Sra. Amelia and Sr. Ruben our email and they can always mail us if they have questions.
To do Srs. Amelia:
- process the papers in the sheet of ´utiles escolares´ of the modulas until 30 Junio 2007.
- process the ´nota de pedidos´ 2007 of all the modulas and divisions (except N07.A.13 – A07.A.31: only the articles with a dot behind the name).
- process the ´comprobantes semanales´ weeknumber 24 and 25 until 30 Junio 2007 and change the dates (Friday) of all the other comprobantes.
- in the end, when every thing is typed in the sheets, she needs to check every article (the quantities on 30 June 2007 are according to the inventory of 30 Junio 2007?)
Working hours: 9
Computer work 20.30pm – 21.30pm
Visit the Aldea 10.30am – 13.00pm
14.30pm – 19.00pm
Other 09.00am – 10.00am (color book, saved files on cd)
Thanks very much and bueno suerte!!!
Jeroen Cremers & Debby Coumans, Holanda
Just as I was about to give up job hunting in Lima after a month of looking, I came across an advert in the Hotel España and that’s what brought me to Huancayo. I will never forget my 4 months work here and would like to thank everyone at Incas for making it possible for me to work in Peru. Hopefully the experience will lead to future jobs in the country of my birth and therefore a very special place for me.
My first impressions were of a very disorganized but interesting boss with too many new and exciting ideas to think about! For the first two weeks it seemed I was working 24 hours a day without a break but there was so much to do I didn’t want to stop. With the main part of the job being doling out tourist information to anyone who would listen, my first assignment was to accompany a couple of interesting American art collectors around the local craft villages looking for weavings of both pictorial and geometrical design and large, intricately carved gourds that caught their imagination. I interpreted for them and the local artisans, getting involved in complex discussions on the quality and type of materials used and the different kinds of natural dyes, such as cochineal or Andean leaves and flowers that turn lamb and alpaca wool all shades of red, green and yellow. As a result, I already felt very involved in my job and with the local people. (I later learnt what the cochineal parasite looks like and how to find it attached to the ´tuna´ cactus, and bored all future tourists with this information.)
Another of my early jobs was to greet a group of elderly British train spotters, all with names like Bert and Rex, on their arrival from Lima by way of the highest train in the world. They had paid vast sums for the privilege as it has been closed to the public for a couple of years now, although it is difficult to understand why. One of Lucho´s many local campaigns, and one in which I have become vaguely involved, is to get the train running again thereby providing a significant rise in income for the train company and local Central Andean businesses. The train group finally arrived at 1 in the morning, after a long day of steam trains and photo-taking of the beautiful views along the way. We delivered them safely to their hotel in a hilariously long convoy of taxis and gave them a tour of the steam train sheds at Chilca train station. Felizmente, the train still runs from there to Huancavelica.
The day at the Casa de la Abuela when we forgot about the vegetarians while we tucked happily into our carnero al palo (spit roast lamb), sticks in my memory as a funny moment. Lucho and I ended up running to the market at the last minute looking for trout and any kind of salad ingredients available.
As I settled into my job, things got less hectic as the low, rainy season settled in and Lucho prepared for his yearly trip to New Zealand. In the hostel I continued to tell the tourists about the walks in the beautiful Mantaro Valley and occasionally accompanied them to Hualhuas for the weaving, San Jeronimo for the filigree silver jewellery, Cochas for the carved gourds, various ancient fridge ruins on the tops of hills, Ingenio for delicious trout and Torre Torre each time falling more in love with the beautifully cultivated Mantaro Valley.
My role as supervisor in the Casa de la Abuela was made easy for the most part by a good team in Gloria, Nilda, Birgit and myself. My role in the office as coordinator of the tour agency, Incas del Perú was made fun by the presence of Cinthya and in the evenings of Andrea and Rocío, all 3 of whom I hope will remain great friends. I coordinated countless Spanish courses with Natalya, a highly recommended language teacher by all her students, for all levels of students from very, very basic to impressively advanced. Various walking trips were also organized to Huaytapallana before the bad weather got really bad.
Probably the most interesting and rewarding work for me though, were the trips to Huancayo´s local prison at Huamancaca, an area almost untouched by civilization on the other side of the river. The boys inside are interesting, interested in us and have an amazing ability to produce the most wonderful crafts from carved bone to weaving and, recently, with the help of courses provided by Incas del Peru, alpaca jewellery and carved gourds. Many a fun morning has been spent there. I assisted in the jewellery course organized by Lucho and organized the carved gourd course just recently for a few of the guys. I will miss them.
The Central Andes offers something for everyone and I´m proud to have been a part of the lives of the locals and to be able to share that with the visitors who have come this way.
Jessica van der Straten
Work done: Teaching English
Where: A Local Orphanage in Huancayo
I knew from the beginning, when I asked for this volunteer position, that this was what I wanted to do.
During my language course I went to visit the Aldea once with Lucho. I found it was quite big. There were(are) about 80 children there. The children live in homes all with an alphabet letter, A to J. The children are divided in to groups of about 8 to 12 kids with a surrogate mother. Some homes are mixed, some contend only boys or only girls. The majority of the children were girls. What I noticed at first was that the kids were poorly dressed with half broken shoes and clothes. But it is a governmental institution, so there is not a lot of money. But later when they went to school, their uniforms looked splendid.
The first day was kind of terrible. I arrived there and it was a total chaos. I had made a time schedule that was based on 8 groups of 10. I asked if they could please make me those groups, all more or less of the same age, and different sexes. One way or the other they were not really capable of doing that. And I ended up with a couple of kids just picked out of their houses. Not very handy.
One of the rooms available was appointed to me. For that classroom I had made some signs, posters, and drawings. The poster were about the verbs, to be and to have, the parts of the body and forms like circles etc. then there were signs on things like the door, the window, the floor etc. And the drawings were of simple things like the sun, the rain, a tree.
So the first group. I started with presenting myself, as well in Spanish as in English. Then I asked them to present themselves with their age. After they did that, I started pointing out the signs, and letting them repeat that. It was rather a chaotic day.
And so was the whole first week. I ended up with a list of the children’s names, ages, and education to make the groups myself. The list explained me a lot about the children’s reaction. For during the lessons when it became a little hard, a lot of them just stopped talking, or went crying, all kind of reactions occurred. But the list showed me that half of the children had not completed primary school.
At first everybody was very interested in ‘ La Señorita de Ingles’ and what she had to bring. But when they found out it was hard to learn English they were gone. What happened was either one of the reactions described here above, or they would start making up lies to not have to come. That was rather demotivating for me. It happened only once that I arrived in the morning and that there was actually a whole class waiting for me in the classroom. On the way I learned that this was typical behavior for them and not much of their fault. What they learn in school, are just facts, they only need to remember things. I noticed that within the Aldea they were approached in quite authoritarian way. And I assume that is also the way the schools work here. They seemed surprised by me just being me and either laughing then yelling at them. So learning something totally new and with another approach, has been very hard for them.
While teaching I found myself with three major problems.
First of all, I had to motivate them. I tried to do this by laughing about faults or mostly reactions that were made, giving strange examples, just keeping things light, as well as singing songs with them, accompanied by gestures to remember better.
Second problem was to get them thinking for themselves. They tend to be lazy, "I can not do this, this is to hard for me." So when you ask them a question where they have to think, those are the answers you get. For example I tried to get them to figure out for themselves what was the meaning of ‘good’ by writing down this:
Buenas Dias--Good Morning
Buenas Tardes--Good Afternoon
Buenas Noches--Good Night
And then asking them what they thought was the meaning of good. Well of course they didn’t think anything. So I tried to explain that buenas was a constant factor, and so was good….maybe they meant the same thing???!!!!
Anyway, I taught them first to present themselves.
My name is...
I am...years old.
I live in...
Then followed the questions to those answers.
What is your name?
How old are you?
Where do you live?
Only this was already a lot. Actually this was the hardest part. Once they knew this, they got some more confidence in themselves and their English course was becoming a little more interesting again. But before they remembered this, I think it took a least a month. But hey, they knew.
The next sentence was:
How are you?
This was very hard, because it is so similar to how old are you. Also they learned the numbers up to ten. That went very well, and they even wanted to know more!
Then I started with the colors. I connected them to words with the same initial letter so that it would be easier to remember and good for their vocabulary too.
During one of the games we played they also learned some animals. I basically gave them a whole list and they had to guess the animal that was hidden in the points I had written down.
I would put for example: ------- on the board and they would have to call letters and if they were good I would put them on the right place, other wise I would start drawing my drawing of a hanging man. If I got to finish the drawing, otherwise they won. Very easy, and amusing.
Another game we played was with a ball outside. You make a big circle and give everybody a animals name. Then you stand in the middle and call the name of the animal and they have to catch it. To make it harder you can make translate it, first Spanish to English then the other way round.
Both the games and the song I taught them were very motivating for them.
In the end I taught them as well, I like/I do not like, together with the colors, but I am not sure if that has really gotten a place in their mind, for they have not really been practicing that a lot.
Also I gave them a list with: mrs, mr, etc…boy/girl, grand father, father, son, brother, and all the female forms.
Not only the children have been learning. I have learned a lot as well during those two months. I learned about the mentality here in Peru, I now know how blessed I am with all that I know, and that I have the ability to think for myself, and through that make my own decisions. I think that one of the only rich nesses you can have in this world is to know and to love. The children there were so hugging, and begging for attention, something I have never missed, and it made me sad to see that. But I hope I have been able to achieve something for them, to motivate them, and to give them a little confidence in themselves that they can do and learn a lot. I think at least for a few I did. When they went to school, they were having English classes, and they came to me, to know more, to compare that was very nice.
Difficult as it has been at sometimes, I look back on it as a great experience!
Mi trabajo con INCAS DEL PERÚ
Antes de venir a Huancayo yo no sabía mucho sobre mi futuro trabajo como voluntaria con Incas. Tenía una mirada a su página web, pero desde Alemania es muy difícil imaginar como será. Esperé de encontrar un lugar donde pudiera aprender algo sobre el trabajo en el turismo, pero no tenía ningún idea preciso.
Pues, llegando a La Casa de la Abuela, todos fueron muy amables conmigo, aceptándome directamente casi como miembro de la familia. Los dos últimos meses se pasaron tan rápido, que no me di cuenta que ya se ha terminado mi tiempo aca con Incas. Disfruté cada día, mis días libres igual que mis días de trabajo o el tiempo en Lima. Lo que me gustó más fue la gran variación en mi trabajo, el trabajo en la oficina, la traducción de la página web, la enseñanza del ingles, de la computadora y del internet, el tiempo en La Casa de la Abuela para hablar con los turistas, dándoles todas las informaciones sobre las caminatas y otras actividades en el Valle, las excursiones al penal y los proyectos con los prisioneros y los días pasando en Lima para dejar las publicidades de Inca en los hostales, hablando con los turistas sobre Huancayo y el Valle Mantaro.
Pero tan importante como el trabajo fue toda la gente que encontré, todo el personal de Incas con quien he pasado muchas horas muy divertidas, con Cinthya, Andrea, Natasha, Rocío o Mariela en la oficina o La Cabaña o con Gloria y Nilda en la Casa de la Abuela. Nunca voy a olvidar a la Abuela, siempre de buen humor y siempre riendo o las frases más escuchadas de los turistas: "me voy mañana," y después se quedan otra semana.
Muchos de los turistas me han dicho que para ellos La Casa de la Abuela es algo muy especial, todos se sentían muy cómodos. Creo que eso fue por varias razones: la casa misma es muy cómoda con todos los lugares para relajarse. Mucho funciona bien porque hay una gran base de confianza entre los empleos y los turistas. Pero también creo que es muy importante que hay voluntarios en la casa que sepan hablar inglés y español para explicar y dar todas las informaciones a los turistas. Eso les ayuda también de encontrar directamente a las otras personas en la casa.
No puedo contar todos los Calientitos y Pisco Sours que hemos tomado, juntos con turistas o empleos, todas las horas que hemos pasado en el jardín, en el balcón o en La Cabaña. Había muchos días trabajando con mucho sueño, pero no quiero perder ningún momento de esos dos meses.
No había casi ningún incidente durante esos dos meses que no me gustó. Hay algunas pequeños aspectos que yo cambiaría, por ejemplo de enseñar a los empleos como hacer el mismo trabajo más eficiente y en menos tiempo, pero creo que en eso soy demasiado alemana!
Ahora mi tiempo con Incas se acabó, no puedo creerlo y ya sé que voy a extrañarlo mucho. Pero espero que pudimos quedar en contacto. Y en un año ya volveré!!!
Sé que ese tiempo siempre me quedará en memoria como una gran experiencia y como un tiempo inolvidable! Muchísimas gracias por todo!
A Local Orphanage in Huancayo
As soon as I stepped through the door I realised my decision to help out the orphanage was going to keep me in Huancayo a lot longer than I had planned. To be greeted by so many happy welcoming faces, despite what we in the West would call adverse circumstances, was another example of our own somewhat misplaces priorities. It transpired I would end up spending 3 wonderful weeks here.
A lifetime’s involvement in the Boy’s Brigade was certainly invaluable for trying to keep the demanding children entertained, but a career as a bank manager was hardly the ideal training for my new found roles of glazier, English teacher, and playground repairman. Over 30 windows were replaced using the most rudimentary tools without losing a single pane of glass, something Mike (my fellow volunteer) and I are justifiably proud of. That, and repairing the swings using some old chain, a few tyres and a local welder, will be a lasting reminder of the time we spent there. Sadly, so may be the incomprehensible mix of Scottish and English accents the children may have garnished from our valient attempts at teaching English. Hearing little Nicole say "give me five" was a heart warming moment.
Knowing we had made a small difference was most gratifying but it wasn’t until our last day did we truly appreciate just how much that small difference meant to everyone concerned. The hearfelt warmth and gratitude we received from the children, the "mothers," and the 2 nuns in charge of us both is something that will live with us both for a very long time.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity!
A local Orphanage in Huancayo
I had been travelling for 10 months or so when I managed to make it to Huancayo. The journey had not been much fun; my stomach was in a state of some turmoil before I had boarded the bus, and frequent use of the ´bano´ on board whilst the bus zig-zagged up and down the mountains left me bruised as well as ill. Getting to Casa de la Abuela with the comforts of a stationary bed and bano, gradually brought me back to some good humour. I was getting accustomed to the zoo-like atmosphere at the Casa (a parrot that attacks your feet, a crippled jungle bird that willingly submits to petting and then pecks you when you stop, a kitten that uses tourists as mock-prey and target practice, and a benign, but hopping injured dog) and thought that I might use the extensive local knowledge of the proprietor to investigate volunteering opportunities.
Lucho had contacts at the Aldea Infantil ´El Rosario´ Orphanage, and as soon as I demonstrated an interest to help he whisked me up there to meet the Madre (the Nun who runs the orphanage). The visit was somewhat inauspicious - Lucho was spat at by a Down´s syndrome boy before we had even gained access to the compound, and as soon as I set foot inside, I was accosted by a disturbed boy who clung to me the whole time we were there. Despite my misgivings and fears, I managed to pretend that I could cope, and the fact that the Madre spoke no English, and I only very basic Spanish and somehow passed muster to be allowed to work there.
I wanted to spend about a month helping the kids - long enough to actually achieve something, and still give me enough time to see other parts of Peru. In truth, I also wanted to see whether I would be able to cope with the kids, and make a difference to their lives.
On my first day of ´work´ I was fortunate enough to meet another volunteer, Lydia, who had been at the orphanage for about a month, and even more fortunately spoke English and Spanish, as well as her native French. She had been teaching the kids English, some French and various crafts. We decided to make a timetable of activities, with me taking the lead in teaching English (being my mother tongue) and computing, as I had found that they have two old but functional (well once I had fixed the mouse on one of them) computers that didn´t seem to be well utilised. I had also planned to teach some sort of car mechanics (being a car designer and tinkerer), but was thwarted by an absence of tools. I was also appalled at the state of some of the facilities at Aldea - many of the windows were broken or absent (including those in children´s bedrooms - and it gets very cold at night in Huancayo), some of the electricity sockets were just bare wires poking out of walls, water poured into some of the buildings through the walls when it rained and the swings and see-saws, although very colourful were partly out of commission for being too dangerous.
I sat in on an English lesson that Lydia gave, to get a flavour of the task, and found it quite depressing. The kids were very keen to fool around and half of Lydia´s time was spent trying to keep (a very loose) order on things. The kids also were really poor at pronunciation and although some of them knew quite a lot of vocabulary, presumably from lessons at school, their ability to form sentences and say them seemed very deficient. I focused on pronunciation when I took lessons, to try and help them get a flavour of how English sounds, although I quickly realised that English is incredibly inconsistent from a pronunciation perspective (just getting the numbers across from one to ten was a big challenge!)
Just after I had started helping at Aldea, another traveller expressed an interest in volunteering and Stuart came up to help. We hatched a plan with Lucho´s help to get some old windows that Lucho had from the Casa to get them cut and installed. It took us some time to get the 40 or so panes of glass cut to the right size and longer to clean it and then install in the buildings. We didn´t have quite enough glass for all the broken windows so we bought a few panes ourselves, used wood for store rooms and resorted to taping cracked panes in non-critical places.
We were thanked at the time for our efforts by the kids and their surrogate mothers, and were treated to a wonderful lunch at one of the mini-children´s houses after replacing some windows, although it was only on the last day at Aldea did we get a sense of how appreciated our work had been.
While we had been there, occasionally Stuart with his digital camera, and I with my video camera, would take some images of the kids. During an activity afternoon, the phrase ´Joven, tomar me foto!´ (Young man, take my photo) would become permanently etched on our brains, as we were assailed for many hours to take all manner of different combinations of children and staff. When we rigged up a computer to show the photos on our last day, the kids were clearly delighted with their images. We had brought (again from Lucho) some soft drinks and after we decided to do a tour of the ten kid´s houses to say our final farewells. We had estimated that it might take half an hour or so, and after an hour and a half of receiving flowers, presents, refreshments, food and many tears and thanks, we left truly humbled by the experience.