Volunteering with an NGO and travelling around South America is something I have wanted to do ever since I was a teenager. I wondered many times if one day this would be possible. However, the idea of volunteering that I used to have was more related to teaching, doing social work… it didn’t occur to me that an NGO needs also help with other matters, such as marketing, fundraising or coordinating volunteers.
Finally, in June 2017, I decided to make my dream a reality and so, I started searching for some volunteers roles. A Volunteer Coordinator position caught my attention – I went for it and two months later I was in Peru volunteering with OtraCosa Network.This has undoubtedlybeen an enriching and fulfilling life experience. Why?
Firstly, as coordinator, one of the tasks is organise activities for the volunteers. This has given me the chance to get to know lots of local people and businesses, who have helped me to carry out various activities such asvolunteer’s lunches, language exchange clubs, Peruvian cocktails workshops, day trips and so on.
Also, becauseone of the requirements of this role to be with the organisation for at least six months, being in Huanchaco for longer has allowed my acquaintances with the people here to develop into friendships. Moreover, the people in Huanchaco have made me feel like “one more of them” welcoming me into their daily life and showing me the real Peruvian culture.
The fact that OtraCosa Network gives free accommodation to the Volunteer Coordinator is especially helpful, because I wanted my volunteering experience to be longer than just two or three months. A private room at the Volunteer House is very convenient as it allows me to have my own space but at the same time there are plenty of other volunteers to spend time with. The volunteers that come to Otra Cosa are amazing people who come from all around the world with similar values and a full of goodness to give. On top of that, I have also been able to continue practicing my English, despite living in a Latin American country!
With regards to the professional side, my time with OCN has been an excellent opportunity to develop my skills on managing and coordinating big groups. That involves not only advance planning; but also, to learning to deal with unexpected situations that sometimes happen. At the end of the volunteering period, the experience will be of real value to my CV and I believe it will help me to get a job in what I want to do.
Lastly, I don´t want to finish this blog without mentioning the best part of my volunteering experience – the fact that I could participate in some of the OCNprojects, such as HELP Youth and HELP Environment. It is really rewarding to see the smiling faces of the kids who participate in OCN´s programs. This reminds me why it is so important to offer excellent support and care to the volunteers of the organization, as it is thanks to them that children have more opportunities to play, learn and develop every day.
This blog was written by Esperanza Perez