Mia volunteered at Picaflor House in August 2016 with her school, Piper's Corner, based in the UK. She was part of a group of 15 students who took part in a life-changing tailor-made cultural and volunteering programme at our Community project in Cusco, Peru. This is her story.
How does your volunteering trip compare to a regular sightseeing trip or holiday?
I had not experienced volunteering abroad until I had the opportunity to go to Picaflor House in Peru. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed myself so much. Every day was a new day, full of smiles! Working with the children was extremely uplifting and rewarding and even now I miss them. Of course the thought of going on a luxurious holiday by the sea sounds unbelievable but volunteering to help those who really need the help, even if it’s only for a couple of days, makes the biggest difference not only to their lives but your own. You gain a vast amount of knowledge and experience which will remain with you for life.
In what ways do you think you and your fellow students contributed to what Picaflor House is doing?
Picaflor House is a comprehensive afterschool program assisting in academic and non-academic subjects. The staff at Picaflor House offer the children a safe refuge when they have finished school for the day. They help the children with their homework, which takes the burden off the parents. As volunteers we of course assisted in any way possible by taking classes and teaching the children new things within a variety of subjects. Not only did we help and support them more importantly, we kept a smile on their faces. We taught them art, dances, English, craftwork and even organised a mini-Olympics which they loved.
What has volunteering at Picaflor House taught you about life outside of your normal environment?
Volunteering at Picaflor House has mainly taught me to never take things for granted and made me appreciate how much our society does take simple things for granted. It is sad to think, for example, even with a wardrobe full of clothes, we still think we need more. I worked with children who wore the same clothes to Picaflor every day because they had no others. These children taught me to appreciate what I have.
How has your time at Picaflor House influenced your views on volunteering?
I never really thought about volunteering until I was offered the opportunity to volunteer abroad. The trip has influenced me because I want more people to experience the amazing time that I had. If I was given the opportunity to go again I wouldn’t hesitate. The huge number of vaccinations and the very lengthy journey to Peru was entirely worth it!
I still find it hard to believe how thankful and happy all the children were even though they had so little. It just goes to show you don’t have to have everything you want to be happy. I wish everyone could have the chance to experience this as it truly makes a difference to the way you perceive life.