Community Advocacy in Peru: multiple programs

Program Overview

When you volunteer in Peru, you'll discover a truly unique country. As you explore its ancient ruins, canopied jungles, and epic coastline, you'll understand, Peru is quite literally the stuff of legend. Once you've climbed Machu Picchu, descended into the Amazon Basin, and had every adventure in-between, you'll come to see that it's the Peruvian people that make these places so special. Peruvian culture is a melting pot, claiming Japanese, African, Chinese, and European influences, not to mention roots tracing back to the centuries-old, Pre-Columbian Incan culture. As a volunteer in Peru you'll be making a real and sustainable impact as you become immersed in a fascinating culture.

In the 1980s, the political terrorism of the Sendero Luminoso (“Shining Path”), which originated in the Andes, caused significant numbers of rural residents to seek refuge in Peru's more urban areas. Although the movement saw its end in 1993, the influx of migrants over the last several decades has resulted in a serious strain on social resources, leaving children and the elderly especially vulnerable. Volunteering in Peru, you'll work alongside and for the benefit of these people, supporting grassroots efforts to provide essential services to those in need.

living space peru

Where you'll stay in Peru

Your Peruvian home away from home is located in a lovely community, just a short walk from tons of conveniences. From a convenient hour laundry service, to delicious restaurants, it's all just around the corner. With little gardens situated both inside and outside of the Home-Base with plum trees and grapevines, you’ll never feel too far from nature.

The Peru Home-Base has bedrooms upstairs and downstairs and wood floors throughout. Living areas are communal with more than enough space to keep your belongings and the common area is a great spot to play board games with fellow volunteers, or study up on your español. 

And then there's the food in Peru. Breakfast will be delicious and hearty, and include eggs, breads, fruits, juices, and a tasty cup of coffee. For lunch and dinner, you'll enjoy incredible local meals made up of meats, salads and veggies, all served with a side of amazing fiery sauce that will quickly become a new favorite!

Who will support you

Before joining the program, Enrique “Kique” Bossio was the Peru and Bolivia Country Director for the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO). He also served as an executive committee member for the Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL), an internationally recognized organization advocating for the rights of the gay and lesbian community as well as individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. Kique has established an AIDS hotline, a Peers Education program, and Safer Sex workshops for MHOL, and has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Peru, Kique has studied in Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Universidad de Lima, and the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Kique is always happy to help volunteers in any way he can, and strives to make the experience as meaningful and memorable as possible.

Volunteer Options

volunteer teaching

Education and Literacy

Education unlocks opportunities, but with an estimated 50% of the adolescent population of Peru at work when school is in session, advancement and achievement by way of secondary school becomes an enormous challenge. Work with The Education & Literacy Project and assist underfunded primary and secondary schools by sharing your love of learning with students, teachers, and community members alike. Your individualized classroom support and English language lessons will provide opportunities for future employment and bolster struggling attendance rates. The gift of your time and knowledge could give a child a much greater gift – the means to a brighter future.

female volunteer with child in peru

Child Development

At a fundamental stage in their growth and development, young children whose families face significant economic challenges often do not receive the support, attention, and education they need to thrive. Centers across Lima are greatly understaffed and caregivers are unable to provide the educational building blocks and individualized attention required for each child. Become a mentor, teacher, and hero when you work with The Child Development Project. By leading and participating in enriching activities and games to inspire a love of learning, your efforts will be an inspiration for future generations.

Female volunteer with elderly woman in peru

Aging with Dignity

In Lima, and particularly in the shanty town of Villa El Salvador, the elderly are among the most vulnerable in the population. Having fled the Shining Path to found a sustainable community for future generations, these brave individuals now find themselves ostracized, neglected, or abused by family and community members. The Aging with Dignity Project works to improve the health and sense of dignity among the elderly by providing companionship, nourishment, love, and support to those who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Show the older and wiser that they are valued when you work to provide a safe space for interaction, sharing, meals, and basic health services.

female volunteer with girl in peru

Support for People with Disabilities

Often abandoned by their families, the children and adults who reside at care centers for people with disabilities in Lima rely solely on a limited staff to fulfill their most basic needs. Whether you’re sharing a meal, assisting with exercise and physical therapy, or simply holding a hand, your work with The Support for People with Disabilities Project will be impactful. You’ll provide the individualized attention that children and adults need to realize their full potential. By engaging with children to improve growth and development or providing care and compassion to adults, your work not only provides basic human needs, but contributes to larger community efforts to break down harmful stereotypes and stigmas faced by individuals with disabilities.

peruvian woman

Girls' & Women’s Empowerment

The unequal treatment of women and girls creates strong disparities that impact access to education, economic opportunity, and basic human rights and care across Peru. In Lima, as part of The Girls' & Women’s Empowerment Project, your work provides education, resources, and opportunities for women in the most vulnerable situations. Whether you provide education opportunities for girls at risk of dropping out of school, support and care for victims of physical or sexual abuse, or compassion and love to elderly females who receive less attention than their male counterparts, your work will start a ripple effect that will strengthen the entire community.

female volunteer talking to peruvian man

Global Health

In many communities, as in Lima, there’s a disparity in the amount of information, outreach, and support available to the population surrounding their healthcare needs. Help to bridge this gap by contributing to the social determinants of health, including education, access to resources, and care for the most vulnerable members of the community. Through The Global Health Project, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the many components of health while making real sustainable contributions to community organizations. Join us in empowering healthier communities!

Things to do

Cultural Activities

Tour Lima

view of lima

First, you'll check out the oldest district of the city, characterized by colonial Spanish buildings and baroque churches. Visit the Iglesia de San Francisco known for its underground tunnels and serving as Lima’s first cemetery. On another Peruvian jaunt, you’ll take a neighborhood tour of all the local gems with a chance to visit Peru’s stunning Afro-Peruvian and Chinese-Peruvian neighborhoods, showcasing rich Peruvian culture that most tourists never get a chance to see.

Learn Spanish

spanish lessons

Our Spanish lessons will help you communicate with ease during your volunteer experience, and out in the community while you're exploring. Courses are held twice a week at the Home-Base, and are tailored for beginner, intermediate, and advanced speakers. Whether you want the know-how to find "el baño" at a restaurant, or are hoping to put your Peruvian slang to the test, your language instructor will help you get there.

Cook Peruvian Cuisine

cooking in peru

Biweekly cooking classes will introduce you to a variety of tasty Peruvian dishes, and provide an opportunity to practice your español. Our cooks will describe the history of each dish and its ingredients in Spanish while demonstrating how they are prepared. Don't forget to snag some of the recipes to share with friends and family. After all, they'll probably enjoy checking out your hundreds of photos from Peru with a plate full of humitas -- fresh corn tamales -- to snack on.

Peruvian History Lessons

outside of building and birds in peru

Guest speakers will capture important aspects of Peruvian culture and history, including the story of Villa El Salvador, a community in which a number of program participants volunteer. A prominent member of the community will recount how the residents of Villa El Salvador fought to transform their community from a temporary shantytown to a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. You’ll learn about the community's current challenges and how these challenges directly impact the beneficiaries of your volunteer work.

Learn Peruvian Dance

peruvian dance

Learn a sampling of traditional Peruvian dances essential to the culture, but rarely studied by tourists. We’ll bring a professional dance teacher to your Home-Base to instruct you and your fellow volunteers in Afro-Peruvian dances originated by slaves during the colonial period, as well as Criollo, a form of dance that incorporates African, Spanish, and Andean influences.

Free Time

Explore Machu Picchu

Machu picchu peru

Lace up your hiking boots and hike the four-day Inca Trail from Cusco to reach Machu Picchu’s sun gate just in time for a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise over the nearly 600 year-old Incan ruins. You can also choose the one-day hike or take the train, but be sure to allow yourself a couple of days to explore the entire complex. Wander through the ruins of the temples and see for yourself why Machu Picchu is one of the new wonders of the world.

Visit Cusco

view of cusco peru

Cusco is more than just the gateway to Machu Picchu and a convenient stop on the way to the Amazon; it’s also an incredible historical and archaeological treasure. Visit Choquequirao to explore the ruins of this small Incan City, then head back to town to check out Spanish cathedrals and chow down on some of the amazing cuy -- guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy. Take a photo or two of the “White Christ” statue watching over the city with arms outstretched.

Boat Around Lake Titicaca

lake titicaca

Visit South America's largest lake and boat around to each of the man-made inhabited islands, made entirely of reeds. After a day on the lake, visit Puno, the folklore capital of Peru, to share a story and a cup of tea with some local residents.

See Colca Canyon

colca canyon peru

Arequipa is Peru's second largest city and also one of its most beautiful, with ethereal white stone buildings nestled in the foothills of Peru’s southern volcanic belt. Hit the markets to purchase some of the aromatic spices you've been tasting in local cuisine, and visit the Santa Catalina Monastery for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Climb volcanoes, or if you've got time for a longer jaunt, hike the Colca Canyon, for some serious bragging rights.

Race Down the Sand Dunes

group snowboarding down sand dunes

Fill your lungs with desert air on the bumpy buggy ride through the dunes in Huacachina. If you're a snowboarder, you’ll love riding the steep sandy dunes. Then, hop on a short flight for a bird's eye view of the ancient and awe-inspiring Nazca lines; these intricate designs were created on such an expansive scale that they're only visible from the air. Don't miss a chance to visit the beautiful black sand beaches and sea lion colonies at nearby Paracas National Park.

Live Like a Local

volunteer outside of house peru

Peru’s largest city is the perfect place to practice your Spanish. Sing a duet with new friends at a karaoke bar downtown, or join in with the local kids as they splash around in the fountains of the Parque de la Reserva. Once you've toweled off, be sure to hang around for the nightly light and water show that starts after dark.