A Day in the Life of an International Volunteer in Peru

The grand opening of the bakery microenterprise that Leah works with.

Written by  September 17, 2013
Think you've got a busy day? Wait until you read about Leah's average day volunteering in South America.

6 am – 8:30 am: I wake up and prepare the day’s lessons. If necessary, I take a combi (minibus) into the city center to purchase supplies.

8:30 am – 12 pm: I travel to Sicaya to volunteer at an SOS Children’s Village. Usually, I conduct workshops aimed at increasing vocational skills, such as card making, beading and knitting. I am working to establish a partnership with N’SESA International to give the older teens an opportunity to sell their handicrafts to American markets and earn supplemental income.

12 pm – 2 pm: I return to my homestay in the rural district of San Pedro de Sano for lunch. Lunch is the most important meal of the day in Peru and usually consists of rice, potatoes in some form, soup and meat.

2 pm – 3 pm: By this time, I am usually very tired. Depending on the speed at which I am able to travel from Sicaya to Sano (it takes around an hour and a half), I may have one hour to relax or set up for my afternoon class.

3 pm – 5 pm: I work with the teenage girls on their bakery microenterprise. The lessons are always very applied and usually include strategic planning, management, marketing, and/or accounting. On the weekends, I usually travel with the young entrepreneurs to a nearby town called Concepcion to bake bread. To build team spirit, I try to also incorporate fun activities, such as cultural excursions, games to learn English, parties and sports.

5 pm – 6 pm: As of the past week, I have been working on a new project to establish a knitting co-operative with five unemployed women. I provided an initial microloan to help them purchase materials to knit hats and scarves. In the evenings and on the weekends, I establish and maintain correspondence with organizations in the United States that might be interested in helping the women access international markets. Additionally, I am collaborating with VenturePact, a startup founded by two students at the University of Pennsylvania, to create a professional online retail platform for the women to sell their products.

6 pm – 7 pm: I travel back to Expand Peru’s volunteer house in Huancayo. I used to sleep at my homestay, but since beginning my new projects, I have found that it is more convenient to stay overnight in Huancayo.

7 pm – 8:30 pm: I teach a life skill and financial literacy course to young adults who formerly lived at the SOS Children’s Village in Huancayo and who are now trying to gain independence. So far, we have written CVs, practiced interview questions and covered basic budgeting concepts. The girls often invite me to stay for dinner, so it is nice to get to know them on a more informal basis. I have recently been in communication with a US-based organization called The Smart Girls Group. Starting next week, the girls may have American pen pals, which will give them an opportunity to practice writing in English.

8:30 pm – 10 pm: At this point, I am ready to fall asleep. After checking my email, working on blog entries, uploading my pictures and videos, and making sure that everything is in order for the next day, I go to bed. A good night’s rest is the best way to prepare for another busy and rewarding day.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Leah Davidson

Leah Davidson was born in Shaoyang, China and grew up in Quebec, Canada. Currently, she's a student at the Wharton School of Business volunteering with an organization called Expand Peru in Huancayo. Leah has traveled to Antarctica, Sweden, Finland, England, France, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico, mostly on research or volunteer trips. Visit her blog here.

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