One thing you probably know about Peru, it holds one of the World Heritage Sites of our planet at the ready: A hidden city, Machu Picchu. What you may not know about Peru is that the tomato and potato originated here, that 65 million giant guinea pigs are eaten a year and that there is a city as old as the pyramids of Egypt. And if you’ll be celebrating the New Year in Peru, pack your yellow underwear and wear them on New Year’s Eve as this is the tradition. Peru is as varied as it’s landscapes and climates in all respects.
The civilization of the Incas is best seen in Peru over any other country and here many Inca traditions are still alive today. Cusco was the center of the Inca empire, which is why it is now known as the archeological capital. The city is an ideal starting point for expeditions that dive into the exciting Inca Empire.
The Incas considered themselves children of the Sun God.
The Inca religion was very complex. They worshiped gods that represented forces of nature, their religion was a combination of animism and fetishism and some of their rituals included the sacrifice of animals and even humans. One of their most important gods was, Inti, the Sun God. The royal family believed they were directs descendants of Inti. The Incas considered themselves children of the Sun God and the sun had a great influence on their daily life, ceremonies and architecture.
Medical care in Peru certainly looks very different than we are used to in Western countries. Especially for medical students who are still in training or study, this is a good opportunity to see how local practices and smaller clinics in South America work. As an assistant to the local doctors and nurses you will learn to provide good medical care with the meager resources of the hospital.
Another medical project is offered in a small private clinic for physiotherapy. You would
- assist the therapists in their work
- support the children with their exercises
- make sure that the equipment is always in working order
There are various health initiatives that support the struggle against malnutrition of the children in poorer areas of Cuzco. Volunteers can assist organizations such as these.
Voluntary work is particularly valuable in the social field because it the most vulnerable part of Peruvian society. A huge number of the population need social assistance:
- the children working on the street
- people with disabilities
- the elderly who are without family support.
The support for the children in orphanages, homes or community centers is of crucial importance since it offers them the best chance to lead an independent life in the future, learning and growing stronger from their past.
A special form of social assistance is in a nursing home in Cusco. Here volunteers will help care for the elders and help out in the kitchen serving food. The best part of all is truly the social part of your work, giving them company, sitting with them and being a patient listener as they share their life stories.
In the community center in Cusco, theater, dance or mime workshops are offered for all those who would like to get in touch with others and work closely with the community or those who just want to help out. There is also a library with a plethora of books on culture, a small cinema and a stage. The tasks of international volunteers here are very diverse and special skills are efficiently put to use. For example, volunteers can:
- help screen films and encourage discussion thereafter
- can share their knowledge with small youth groups or teach software applications, if they are confident in using computers
The continuous economic boom in Peru has not yet produced sufficient prosperity for a large portion of the population. Therefore, volunteer work is especially recommended in social sectors such as education, in order to boost the native population. There is an after-school project in Cusco, where children receive help with homework and participate in other activities.
Another opportunity is teaching in a secondary school, helping students transition into working life. Here you will usually start as an assistant teacher and then after a few hours of assisting, you will teach independently.
As a sports teacher, you can take part in an afternoon sports program that takes place daily from 15:00 to 17:00.