By Pierre-Olivier (Belgium)
Original post: http://myinternationalvolunteering.org/time-to-leave/
It has now been five months since I arrived in Peru. This experience has been wonderful! I was lucky enough to enter an organisation which does an amazing work, with a great team, and wonderful volunteers. From the first day on, I felt accepted by the team. They included me and the other EVS volunteers in the activities, provided us training, and introduced us to the locals.
Now, five months have passed, and it is time to reflect a bit about what happened, what I learned, and how I evolved… and to leave…
Before this experience, I had already travelled a bit. For example, I spent three months in Togo. I thus expected a nice experience learning new things, meeting new people and learning about a new culture.
I was a bit afraid of what was expecting me, as it was the first time I would work with people with disabilities. So I had to learn how to interact with disabled people. This was a great fear of mine before the EVS. I was used to work with children, but I had no experience of working with disabled children. I was afraid that I would react badly, leading to awkward moments and difficult relations with them. However, it soon appears that I just had to behave normally. Then, they accepted me directly, even trusting me without even knowing me. I just remembered what should always be: when meeting someone, whatever his origin, religion, culture or condition, just treat him as a fellow human being. Nothing bad can come from there! And it is also important for everyday life. We were living with volunteers coming from all over the world, so being open-minded was very important!
Going to a new country wasn’t stressful enough, I also had to live five months with unknown people, in the same house, doing the same work and even going on vacation together. It was definitely a challenge for me. But in the end, the responsible of my hosting organisation did a wonderful job selecting volunteers from all over the world, and I can truly say that we had a blast! Even when we were 15 international people living in a house without water (the pipes broke) for a few days! All in all, the cohabitation went really well, and I can really say that knowing those volunteers is one the highlights of this experience! And I obviously have to give a very special thanks to Daniela, the other EVS volunteer, who managed to bear me during those five months!
So, at the end of this volunteering experience, I have to recognise that it brought a lot to me. I know myself better, and I developed more trust in my abilities. I know that I am able to evolve in an unknown environment and to adapt to it. I learned some new abilities, like working with disabled people and with an international staff, as well as to speak Spanish.
It was also the first time that I felt so fully integrated in the local community, and developed a “life” there. This was a great opportunity not only to interact with the people, but also to understand them, their life, their culture, etc. And as a result, I improved a lot my Spanish, because I wasn’t very good at the beginning. I also had to learn to make myself understood even without words, when the language comes short… and because we had two deaf children!
So if you can’t read between the lines, let’s just say that this experience brought me a lot. It helped me grow, acquire new competences, discover a new country, and amazing people. I really had a wonderful time in Ollantaytambo, and I just wish I could have stayed longer! But everything eventually comes to an end, and it is time to leave…
Therefore, I feel very grateful, and I want to thanks a lot Jessica, the director, Jose Luis, the coordinator, Mayra, the co-coordinator, and Daniela, my co-EVS for those amazing five months. And of course all the volunteers that passed by MySmallHelp Peru while I was there! I highly recommend this opportunity for anyone willing to live the experience of a lifetime, to learn a lot more about himself and to discover more about Peru!
Have a wonderful day,