My volunteer experience in Peru was my first one outside of the United States. I decided on helping out at an orphanage, in Ayacucho. I found this organization through Volunteers for Peace (VFP). It was nice for my first volunteer experience abroad to go through VFP, as they did most of the leg work for me. I was there in June of 2007.

The orphanage was called URPI, and it was all boys aged 6-16. Once the boys turned 16, they had to leave the orphanage, unless they had a sponsor who paid for them to stay there so they could continue going to school.Crystal and Peruvian Orphan Reading

I lived in a volunteer house with about 13 others. This was one of my favorite parts. There were volunteers from all over the world. I was able to learn about the places and cultures the volunteers were from while learning about those of Peru.

I would spend half of my day, usually the morning, helping the boys with their homework. Although my Spanish was not that great, I was able to assist with math and lower level reading. After homework, we would have free time with the boys before lunch.

In the afternoons the other volunteers and I devised different classes for the boys. I was part of the cooking class. I had so much fun teaching the boys simple recipes they could use. My counter part was an Italian girl, so you know the food was yummy!

We also had down time to play with the boys. They loved to play catch with the tennis balls, jump rope, play with their tops, and of course play football.  In addition to playing during down time, I helped the boys keep their rooms and clothing clean.

Crystal and Lisa playing jump rope with the orphans in PeruBeings my “work” day was over by evening, it gave me time to explore the town and people of Ayacucho. This was important to me to get to know my surroundings. The town had many fun things to offer, and the beer was tasty. The volunteer organization organized trips for all the volunteers on the weekends, it was great to see the landscape and people of the surrounding areas.

There was nothing that I did not like about this organization or volunteer experience. The housing and food (which we cooked ourselves) was nice, and you could tell the orphans really enjoyed their time with us volunteers. It was awesome to see the boys make so much out of the little they had.  They just lived life the best they could while keeping their spirits high. An inspiration to all.



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