I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with ABV. Our coordinator Maria Elena, is absolutely wonderful, our host family, Maria del Carmen, kind and so welcoming and her young lady helper, Sheyla, so sweet and ready to help. All the other volunteers were friendly and motivated.
1-How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
Maria Elena was very helpful, super friendly and always professional. She has a lot of experience working with volunteers and it shows, she made everything go smoothly. I have wonderful memories with Maria Elena, we had serious conversations but also a lot of shared laughers. She is super!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Program: Monday start of the week event with the children singing the national anthem and of course having the honor to participate to the children traditional dance competition Plaza de Armas and wear the beautiful Cuscuian costume.
Host Family: Even though Maria works full time she always spent time with us, spoke slowly and used a vocabulary we could understand. She really made me feel as if I were part of her family, it was a wonderful relationship from day one. Her young lady helper Sheyla was very friendly, she also took the time to talk to us and she is a fabulous cook.
Country: All the Peruvian we met were very friendly, we never encountered any rudeness or impatience when using our broken Spanish. Also the food is amazing, fresh, delicious.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: Not knowing enough Spanish to communicate with the adorable children at the kindergarten.
Host Family: Our room had a huge window and directly faced a high traffic road. The cold bathroom and thin hot water shower spray was not so exciting either. We dealt with the situation but a little ceramic heater would have been very welcomed. People here are just used to it so it is ok for a short period of time.
Country: The taxis not being easily identifiable and the very peculiar driving style, quite scary at first.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1. Drink coca tea as soon as you arrive and rest the first two days to get accustomed to the altitude.
2. Bring warm clothes, especially a flannel pj and warm slippers.
3. Keep your passport and money safely tucked away.
4. Give away!
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
a. Peruvian driving style can be quite frightening.
b. Do not attempt to drive, get a cab or a driver.
c. The water of the Hot Springs is not dirty, it is green because of the minerals.
d. Guinea pigs are not considered pets and taste really good.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience:
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with ABV. Our coordinator Maria Elena, is absolutely wonderful, our host family, Maria del Carmen, kind and so welcoming and her young lady helper, Sheyla, so sweet and ready to help. All the other volunteers were friendly and motivated. I will miss Maria Elena, Maria del Carmen and Sheyla very much. I will definitely keep in touch with them, they are my friends.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
Apart from the cold, noisy bedroom and cold bathroom everything was wonderful. Ask if you can be moved to another bedroom if possible.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: Participating to the school traditional dance competition. Everybody was so friendly and welcomed us so well, thanks to Maria Elena who is a master coordinator!
Host Family: Tons of pleasant talks with Maria del Carmen and Sheyla, learning about their lives and families.
Country: Visiting Machu Picchu, incredible experience!
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
My husband took care of it.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Absolutely! This is an experience not to be missed. ABV is a great non profit organization. I will definitely recommend.