Volunteering in Cusco

Volunteer opportunities abound in Cusco and , but not all organizations are reputable or beneficial to the communities they work in. The following are good choices and have placements ranging from 1 day to 6 months.

Awamaki, (located in Ollantaytambo, Calle La Convención across from the church) tel. 436744, www.awamaki.org. Offers a variety of positions, including working with local women’s weaving cooperatives, developing sustainable tourism or marketing and communications strategies, and monitoring and evaluation of social projects. Some positions require previous experience, and all volunteers work shifts in their fair trade store selling locally made woven products. 10 week minimum, not free, Spanish skills a definite plus.

Earth Ayni, (located in Urubamba), www.earthayni.org Three month apprenticeships for earth building construction and sustainable living techniques; apprentices build low cost earth ovens/heating units for locals. Also has short-term positions for volunteers, who help with earth building projects, odd jobs and social media presence. Not free, Spanish not required.

FairServices, www.fairservices-peru.org Trains local single mothers to give Spanish classes. Also has 8-10 foreign volunteers at a time working at WaaW, their after-school care program that helps 25-30 children with nutrition, health and academic success. Volunteers help with homework, personal education plans, sport activities, and mentor the children in general. Minimum 4 weeks, longer internships preferred. Not free but inexpensive, some Spanish required.

Globalteer, www.globalteer.org Registered UK charity with a variety of projects: dog shelters, children’s after-school programs, and animal rescue and scientific research programs in the jungle. Animal shelter placements can be quickly arranged for people already in Cusco. Supportive of its staff; a good option for first time volunteers. Minimum 1 week commitment, not free.

LAFF, www.laffcharity.org.uk. Registered UK charity working with five Peruvian NGO partners. Supports children’s education and financial independence and staff training for their partners. Two of their partners have retail shops where their products are sold (Casa Mantay and Q’ente). Provides long-term internships for qualified, Spanish-speaking applicants. No volunteer fees.

Manu Park Volunteer, www.manuparkvolunteer.com Main focus is the protection of the Amaru Mayu Cloud Forest: reforestation, trail maintenance, animal rescue center, agricultural projects. Also opportunities to teach local children. Volunteers have a lot of latitude to create their own projects. Not a highly structured/supervised program; best suited for more experienced, independent volunteers. Stays of one week to three months. Not free.

The Meeting Place, Pl. San Blas 630, www.themeetingplacecusco.com A cafe with a social conscience: all profits go towards their social projects, and the cafe is run by volunteers to keep overhead low. One can also volunteer at one of their partners: Corason provides after-school care, training and education for the children of a local community, and Altivas Canas provides childcare for working single mothers. A local orphanage also receives support. Not free; by donation. 2 week minimum stay. Accepts volunteers already in Cusco. The cafe owners and projects are Christian, but they are open to all faiths.