There are many opportunities to volunteer in Lima- and this is something that ANYONE should take advantage of while studying abroad! It is an incredible way to meet people, help the community, practice the language, and learn more about the people and the culture--among other things! Unfortunately, in Peru, the wealth is extremely unequally distributed. The majority of the wealth in the nation is concentrated in Lima. This, along with below average public resources (public schools, health centers, jails, etc.), has created unbelievable poverty in countless communities in the country. Even if you drive just 15 minutes outside of Lima, you can find incredible poverty. Erin and I have been involved with the Church in our university and have been able to take advantage of many opportunities to serve some of these communities.
This past weekend, we were able to travel to the a small pueblo just outside of Lima with a group of about 15 other Peruvian students. We spent the day working with children, ages 10-12. We held workshops and activities for the children which emphasized the importance of leadership, values, morals and self-esteem. This particular community is one with which our group works very closely! The children in the community were so excited to get to see us and hang out with us! They were familiar with many of the volunteers in our group. The experience of helping out here was AMAZING! The community is extremely poverty-stricken and consists of countless incredible people who have virtually nothing. It was humbling to look at their living conditions- the people here are living in single-room houses made of mud, and have roofs made of grass. Yet, the population was so joyful and very welcoming.
As I stated, the Church has been working in huge ways in this community for some time now. The community consists of countless small homes and literally nothing else. But now, the Church has developed a plan to build an amazing school (preschool, grade school and high school) for the community and has begun building! The grade school and high school classrooms are finished and being used this school year, but lack some essentials such as tiles to cover the dirt floors, among other things. There are plans to build a library, the preschool, and even a computer lab! The school is a true blessing in this community, but there is still a lot of work to be done! We are currently working on fundraising and once the money is raised, the group will begin building the library.
The opportunity to be a part of a group who is working in such an incredible way has been one of the greatest blessings for me as well! And easily, one of the coolest things I have been able to do while abroad!