Singaporean volunteer Choi Kuen Lai had participated in fundraising ventures for charitable projects in Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines but had never done any hands-on volunteering before she decided to volunteer with Globalteer at Picaflor House in Oropesa near Cusco, Peru.
Here she explains what prompted her to give up her time to help the children of Oropesa with their education.
"I am therefore a firm believer in education for children, as literacy will increase their chances to have a better future - It is with this belief that I chose to volunteer at Picaflor House".
Experience not essential...
"I had very little experience working with children before I arrived at Picaflor House - my only real experience with children has been time spent with my 11 nieces and nephews.
"Whilst some experience of children helps, it is not essential and one certainly does not need a lot of experience working with children in order to volunteer at an after-school centre like Picaflor House.
"The children, although not having a lot materially, are energetic, enthusiastic and happy. I was touched by their enthusiasm to learn as well as their happiness at play. The children’s energy will electrify anyone! I would say that children connect easily with volunteers who extend friendship, care and concern to them."
In at the deep end
"One day, I was asked if I could teach the three English classes for the afternoon as the teacher was sick. I said yes and took myself to task! I have never taught in a classroom before and I was to teach three groups of active and eager Spanish speaking kids, when I only have very basic Spanish like ‘hola’ and ‘como estas?’
"But once I had broken the ice with the kids and they were happy to let me be their teacher! They were most cooperative and participated earnestly in class. I was exhausted by the end of the three hours but it was a most rewarding experience for me.
"Another day I was given the task of watching over the children in the playground.
It was a rather nerve-racking afternoon watching over kids who have a different concept of danger than mine. But it was through these play hours that I experienced immense joy. I allow myself to indulge in life’s simple pleasures that often elude those of us caught up in the hustle and bustle of big city living.
"I would certainly recommend volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor House to my friends. I was impressed with the number of children that turned up every day even though attendance at Picaflor House is voluntary. This tells me that Picaflor House is achieving its objectives of providing a safe haven for underprivileged children, offering them learning opportunities and at the same time allowing them to play and to have a childhood."
Being part of the team
"I am most grateful towards the staff at Picaflor House. I felt like I was part of the team from the word ‘go’. They included me in the classrooms and in the playground from day one. I assisted in English, Art and Dance classes during my three weeks of service there. They were very friendly, very helpful and always open to my ideas. A big ‘thank you’ to all of you!
"If you sign up on your own for the volunteer experience, please wear an “independent hat”. If you feel uncomfortable with that you might be better off signing up and volunteering with a friend or friends.
"But most importantly, choose to volunteer at Picaflor House only if you like working with children and if you enjoy the chaos of highly charged kids. You will be rewarded with their generous show of gratitude."
If, like Choi, you would like to help us extend the privilege of education to the children of Oropesa village, please visit our Volunteer Peru Community Project pages to find how to become a volunteer. Or if you have already made up your mind, please fill in a volunteer application form now!