Chiara, volunteered at Mundo de Niño for 3 months
“Mundo del Nino is a house for children who used to live in the streets. They live here and do activities such as art, sports and English classes. My role was to come to the house and play and talk with the children. It is a really nice place. The beginning was difficult because I didn’t know the children and I had to build a relationship with them. It is not easy to get them to trust you. The relationship with the other people working there is also really important. It is really nice to spend time with these children, and I quickly developed a good relationship with them. Sometimes you feel like you don’t do much, but they like to know that people actually care about them. So just showing up is important. Knowing Spanish is important in order to communicate and create a trustful relationship. It can be emotionally hard sometimes, especially because you don’t really know what the children have gone through before. You need to remember that you are here for the kids. As relationships are hard to build and complicated make sure you think before reacting strongly to whatever happens.”
Maria, England, volunteered at the Blind School for 3 weeks
“The Tulio Herrera Leon school takes care of individuals, from a range of ages, with different disabilities. The students’ involvement range from kindergarten to further education for adults. I was specifically working in the section teaching blind adults how to become a masseuse. During my routine at the school, I would start work at 8 am, then take a break from 10 am to 11 am and finish at 1 pm. During the break, the school provided me with tea and lunch. To be honest, I wasn’t able to contribute much of my previous knowledge to the project as professional massaging was new to me. It was a very relaxed job, with a good atmosphere and incredibly friendly people! The schedule depends on the day of the week but we usually learned a different massage every day. We also did yoga and body awareness lessons. The body awareness lesson was really interesting because they teach you how to correctly work with blind people and you also get blind folded to understand what it feels like. I really did enjoy working at the school because the people were just incredible in character! But I feel like it wasn’t much of a challenge and it was frustrating to me that I was not able to contribute task specific knowledge. Both staff and students are really nice and will make you feel at home in no time. But future volunteers should keep in mind that the blind individuals always want to be aware of their surroundings so when you want to lead them somewhere ask them first. Also, always let them know when you are in the room so they can ask you for help if they need any.
Bob, Belgium, volunteered at Santo Toribio for 5 months
“Santo Toribio works with children with disabilities, from 2 to 17 years old, in Trujillo. They try to offer education to children with disabilities, with love and catholic values. They try to give skills to the children for them to able to live in society. At 13, they can start learning at the bakery, or making bracelets, or carpentry, and shoes making. The school is really nice. Everyone makes you feel like you’re welcome and appreciated. They also sometimes do school trips. The school asked me to design a product they can sell and make profit from. I also helped in the carpentry class. I had never worked with disabled children before, so it was like discovering a new environment. The relationship with the children is amazing. The children give trust really easily and you become their best friend in one day. It is a really rewarding experience. In the school, there is only 1 teacher for every 15 kids, while in Western countries, it’s generally 1 teacher for every 3 kids. So they really need a lot of help. My role was more or less to be a teacher’s assistant. While I designed the project, I consistently asked the kids what they thought or wanted in order to involve them in the project. One of the main parts of my role at the school was to be there for the children and talk with them. I really enjoyed my experience. I learned a lot from it. I really felt that I did something, that I was helpful. For future volunteers, I would advise them to be patient. Don’t be afraid to talk and explain things with your hands. You don’t need to speak very good Spanish. But watch out, the kids can be very strong. It can be very emotionally engaging if you’re not used to working with disabled children.”
Rollo, volunteered at Santo Toribio for 2 weeks
“Santo Toribio’s aim is to help children with physical and mental disabilities fulfill their potential, making them aware of their abilities and pushing them to excel becoming as independent as they possibly can. My role in the project was assisting a delightful teacher called Roxanne with a class of 9. Every morning they have their task of writing their personal details down and then throughout the week, we do different activities with them such as cooking, dancing, and making bracelets. My job was to help them and support them in doing everything they were doing. My experience at Santo Toribio, albeit only a short time, I enjoyed immensely. It was very fulfilling and I really felt that I could help the children. For future volunteers I would say that optimism is of paramount importance and also letting all your inhibitions go dancing and doing a lot of things to encourage the children to do things and smile.”