Each July, we are thankful to receive the help of volunteers from a student travel program called GoBeyond, with whom we have partnered for 5 years. With volunteers of different nationalities, we spend two weeks repairing school facilities, teaching English, developing art and sport activities, and learning about the local culture.
We worked on various projects during the first week of July 2019 with one group of volunteers, and the last week of July with a different group. The first day of both weeks, one group visited a primary school in a nearby town called Huayoccari to create a fence of recycled plastic bottles around the garden, and paint recess games in the patio, as beforehando, the children had no games to play during the recesses. The other group of volunteers ascended to the community of Chiqchicancha, where local community members taught them aspects of the Quechua culture, such as the process of weaving. The next two days, we varnished the tables and chairs in the primary schools of Phiry and Virgen de Fatima, in Ollantaytambo, where the volunteers also assisted our English teacher in the English classes that we provide every week. At these schools, we also planted vegetables in the garden and surrounded the garden with a new fence. Afterwards, the teachers and students told us how thankful they were for the improved classroom furniture and for the new vegetables that they can use to cook the meals for the students.
On Thursday during the first week, we ascended to the upper part of a town called Huilloc, where we also painted the tables and chairs in a kindergarten school, and did an art/face-paint workshop with the students of that school. Even though the children and volunteers did not share a common language, as the children speak Quechua and most of the volunteers speak English, they both enjoyed the activity so much!
On Thursday during the second week, the volunteers worked at a different primary school in the community of Soccma. They built a fence to separate the school property from the road, and an adobe wall to separate the school from the farm located behind it, so that animals cannot enter the school grounds. On each Friday, the groups visited the CEBE Arco Iris to assist the teachers during classes. This is a special needs school for children with disabilities where we send two of our beneficiaries every week. . There, the GoBeyond volunteers painted recess games on the patio, murals on the walls and helped the children with disabilities in the school with their classwork. For many of the volunteers, this was their first experience closely working with children with disabilities. However, they seemed to enjoy it overall. Admittedly, one volunteer said “It was definitely a little challenging, but it was such a unique experience to be able to help these children.”
On the last day of both weeks, we returned to upper Huilloc to make adobe bricks that the community members can use to build another classroom for the local kindergarten. The volunteers might have enjoyed this day the most, as they had fun mixing the mud to make the adobes, while also knowing that they’re impacting the local commmunity!
We have continued this relationship with GoBeyond for several years because of the diverse impact it creates. Not only do local communities receive very much needed support, but the volunteers also have the opportunity to learn about the local culture and contribute to the lives of people with few resources. Through this type of volunteering experiences, the volunteers each year understand the importance of teamwork, acquire a new sense of empathy by working with low-income communities, learn diverse values and traditions from a different culture, all while realizing the importance of volunteering.
Our hard work during these weeks is always worth it, as we see the direct impact on the communities. Thank you to our GoBeyond volunteers, their staff, and of course, to all our #MySmallHelpers!