Nationality: United States
Date: Fall 2015
Volunteering through Makikita Quykuway was truly one of the most rewarding international experiences of my life. Before deciding on Makikita I had spent a lot of time online researching volunteer opportunities throughout Peru that I thought might be a good fit for me. When I stumbled upon Makikita I knew I had found it.
I went to Huancayo in the Fall of 2015 and volunteered for the Street Children Program (or Yachay) five days a week, six hours a day for two months. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing these kids are. They welcome you every day with hugs and kisses and laughter. They are truly so welcoming and so sweet, and they can’t wait to get to know you. The staff of Yachay provide the guidance and support you need to feel confident and prepared as a volunteer. Everyday I would help the children with their homework and play games. Occasionally I would assist the staff in leading informational lessons or basic English lessons. I would also assist with chaperoning field trips, to the park or the circus.
As far as getting to know Peru and having the chance to understand and explore the culture, Huancayo is a great location. The volunteer apartment is cute, comfortable and in a great location for walking to the center of town or catching a bus. Plus, Juliana is an awesome host. She goes above and beyond to make sure all of her volunteers are comfortable, happy and entertained. You will meet her family, her friends, explore restaurants and markets together, and she is always willing to help plan a weekend excursion.
On a deeper level, Makikita is a valuable and important organization, one that I am so proud to say that I have been a part of. So often these days volunteer organizations are designed in the US or far-away countries and then implemented in developing parts of the world with very little understanding of their true impact on the community. Makikita is different. This program is developed and run by local community members who are striving to help and assist in their own city. You directly see and understand where your help goes. You feel the impact. This program actually helped inspire me to pursue a Master’s degree in International Education. I continue to learn lessons from Yachay to this day as I continue to reflect on and grow from my experience in Huancayo.