[Bryony Wharfe | Contributing Writer]
On the 2nd June 2016 me and 10 other students from the University of Hertfordshire set off to Peru from Heathrow airport. 24 hours of plane journeys and stop offs later, we landed in Lima ready to enjoy the next 18 days. We applied to go on this trip earlier in the year through Herts Success, scheme run by Herts that gives disadvantaged students a chance to do things they may not have been able to do otherwise, and out of 60 applicants we were the chosen few.
The trip was a volunteering one, all paid for by the university. We spent most of our time in a little village near the city Huaraz, helping to build a water tank and teach English to the children. The building site was a two hour hike every morning to where we were staying (the local school) and we would stay there for a few hours helping with whatever labour work needed to be done. After that, we would head back down to the school and teach English in small groups. Me and one of the other volunteers had the older children, 11-16 year olds, and everyone else had a partner or two and a small group. We were only there for a short time so we didn’t get to teach them much but we did go through the days of the week, “Hello how are you,” colours, and so on.
During weekends, we were free to do whatever we wanted. The first weekend, we hiked for nearly five hours then eventually climbed up a mountain in the Andes region. It was next to a waterfall and we jumped into a lake called Lake Churup at the top. The lake was absolutely beautiful and now every time I get scared to do something I say to myself, “Bryony, you climbed a goddamn mountain, you can do anything.”
Another night we went out to a karaoke bar and sung horribly and got horribly drunk on one of the native drinks, Pisco Sours. The next day, although most of us were hungover, we went ziplining a short drive away.
The people in Peru were so kind hearted, always greeting us as we walked by with huge smiles on their faces. They welcomed us into their homes and were extremely thankful for the work we were doing.
On our last day at the school we repainted a wall and put the organisation’s logo on one part of it with all our handprints and names.
On the last few days we travelled back to Lima for our flight, but not before we saw Peru’s famous water-light show.
The whole experience was breath-taking, the views were incredible, the people were delightful and the Andes just stretches forever. If you’re thinking about volunteering abroad I would definitely recommend it. We went with Madenturer and STA Travel, so have a look on their Facebook pages and websites to get more details about the same place or somewhere else.
All images: Bryony Wharfe