Sophia volunteered at Picaflor House in August 2016 with her school, Piper's Corner, from 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.
Going to Peru to volunteer allowed us to see a different side of the country and we were able to interact with local people and learn more about their daily lives, which was extremely interesting. I also found it easier to connect with the local people as we knew more about where they had come from and what their lives were like. Although we were able to do some ‘touristy’ things, volunteering with the children was the most rewarding thing that I have ever done and it allowed me to learn so much more about Peru as a country rather than just learning about things that tourists would see.
In what ways do you think you and your fellow students contributed to what Picaflor House is doing?
We were able to teach them English and we were also able to create a more interesting and exciting programme for them by playing with them and interacting with them in lessons such as art and dance. We created a different lesson plan for each day which allowed the children to have more of a variety of lessons when they were at Picaflor House – this meant that they were engaged when we were working with them.
What has volunteering at Picaflor House taught you about life outside of your normal environment?
Working at Picaflor House genuinely taught me how lucky we are as a first world country and it also taught me about the difficulties that children face in their day to day lives such as having to stay on the streets or go to work after school whereas, we are able to go home and be safe after school. Picaflor House also taught me how grateful the children are for their education which made me think about how lucky we are to go to such a wonderful school back in England.
How has your time at Picaflor House influenced your views on volunteering?
After working at Picaflor House, it made me want to volunteer there again, perhaps in a gap year for a few months. I would like to spend a year volunteering in a third world country as I feel like I would be able to give something to the disadvantaged children that live there; I would love to volunteer in the future because I enjoyed my time at Picaflor House so much.
What is the biggest impact this trip has had on you? Will you do anything different or have you changed your attitudes to social action (such as volunteering) as a result of you trip?
Working at Picaflor House had a huge impact on me when I came home. Leaving the children that we had built a relationship with was one of the hardest things and it made me want to go back as soon as I had left! I would love to go back and volunteer for longer and this experience has made me want to have a career in a place such Picaflor House, possibly working in a company such as Globalteer.
Is there anything else you would like to say about your trip?
I would just like to say that I am so grateful that I got such an amazing opportunity and it has changed my way of thinking a lot. I would love to work somewhere such as Picaflor House volunteering in Peru was such an incredible, rewarding experience! The only thing I would change is the amount of time we were there – I would have loved to volunteer there longer!