Now that the quarantine is over, I am able to begin the volunteer stint that will last until the end of July. My group of 6 returned from our trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu on Sunday and visited the volunteer sights yesterday. As of now, there are four places that volunteers can work. Hogar de Cristo is a home for three groups: special needs (mentally/physically disabled), elderly, and children/teenagers. My first day there is tomorrow, but the other volunteers have been making a small piece of land more workable for plants as well as spending time, playing games, and helping the special needs and elderly people (the children are away at school during the day). At another location in a place called Pachacutec, volunteers can teach english to primary school classrooms or assist teachers with younger classes (3-4 y.o.). Female volunteers go to Hogar de Punta some afternoons to hang out with young teenage girls (some unfortunately have babies or have been prostitutes). Wawawasi was a place where volunteers could care for infants while their mothers were gone, but it is run by the government and they do not currently want foreigners handling babies (swine flu). Some afternoons I will be able to hang out with the kids after they return from school at Hogar de Cristo.
One interesting aspect of the volunteering is taking the bus to the various locations. Getting to Pachacutec takes almost an hour. The buses are old and hold about 25+ people. There is a bus driver and a guy who does the real work – opening/closing the door, collecting the fee at random times, and shouting out the destination of the bus at people on the street. People sometimes have to jump on because the bus doesn’t even stop. We pass lots of poorer areas, so the trip is pretty interesting.
The homestay family is hosting all of the volunteers – about 15 of us – so every meal is quite the ordeal. There are lots of fun and interesting people, many of whom speak Spanish pretty well. It is much easier to understand the Spanish here compared to people back home, but I still have trouble. Hope it improves in the upcoming weeks.
I really enjoyed the week of traveling around, but am glad to be a little more settled and start working!