PERU VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
Peru is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural resources. However, its social development has not kept pace with its commercial development, and Peruvians still wrestle with illiteracy and basic social justice. Peru is a safe country, but visitors are often taken aback by the tremendous differences in socioeconomic levels and lack of access to education and healthcare. Peru works hard at self-improvement, making it an ideal place for international volunteers to get involved, contribute to sustainable programs, and provide help to vulnerable populations. There is no shortage of things to get done in Peru and international volunteers can truly learn to serve here.
Peru is one of the most enigmatic South American countries. It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the North, Brazil to the East, and Bolivia and Chile to the South. With a population of 33 million people, Peru is home to the amazing Andes mountains, the lush Amazon jungle, the Atacama Desert, and the beautiful Pacific coastline. Over the last decade, Peru has also become a destination for culinary tourism thanks to its very original and creative cuisine, as well as its wine and pisco producing regions.
Maximo Nivel provides volunteer abroad projects at our institute in Cusco, Peru, both in and outside of the city center. Projects are also available off-site in the Sacred Valley (mountains), the Amazon region (rainforest), and Quillabamba (rainforest), some of which are rural areas and offer a more “off-the-grid” experience than the city of Cusco. Volunteers always have the opportunity to serve in both urban and rural communities.
Cusco, Peru was the ancient capital city of the Inca Empire and today it is the mecca for travelers visiting South America. Everyone comes to Cusco and it is one of the major international travel and study abroad destinations in Latin America. The Maximo Nivel institute in Cusco, is located right in the historical center, only 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas and right across the street from Q’oricancha—the ‘Temple of the Sun.’ The institute is always teeming with international travelers and local students enjoying the large common areas, WiFi, and on-site snack bar.
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Why I Maximo Nivel
We came to Cusco not sure what to expect from the volunteer project. 3 months later and I am so thrilled that we had the opportunity to volunteer with Maximo in Cusco. We spent the majority of our time teaching English. Our time teaching was such an incredible experience. The students were beautiful people and we were always well supported by Maximo staff and the project staff. We then spent a week at the jungle project. This was an experience like no other, to be immersed in the Amazon jungle doing work that matters. The project staff are super passionate and very supportive.
Volunteer Programs in Peru
The most amazing country in South America!
When families face severe economic disadvantages, children are often the first victims. Neglect, abuse, and abandonment are pervasive issues in Peru as people struggle with the lack of resources and inability to care for their children. This creates a vicious circle that is very difficult to penetrate and solve. The staff at our working with kids projects in Cusco, Peru do their best with the few resources they have, but they rely a great deal on the help from volunteers.
As an international volunteer, you work in after school programs and community centers around the Cusco area. Your volunteer work is focused on helping project staff to provide individual attention to each child. With your help, children are exposed to kindness and care, receive academic support, and begin to develop social skills and improved hygiene habits. While you are learning to serve, you can help improve these children’s lives, brighten their smiles, and make the community just a little better.
In Peru, English language skills are absolutely critical for academic and professional advancement. Everyone understands the importance of English for tourism, business, and higher education. Peruvians who do not speak English struggle to keep up with the economic success of their own country, which creates an even bigger gap between the wealthy and the poor.
As an international volunteer, you teach English in after school programs, community centers, and at a local military facility. These people lack the resources to pay for English classes, but you can help better equip these kids, teens, and adults to communicate and have access to opportunities that move them beyond poverty. Your teaching English project includes creating lesson plans, teaching classes, one-on-one tutoring, and organizing educational games and activities. You may also work in support activities such as cleaning and fixing up the teaching areas.
Maximo Nivel provides all English teaching volunteers with a crash course in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), which provides you with basic theories and strategies to effectively teach ESL. Maximo Nivel has a full academic team that helps provide materials and ideas for your classes.
Peru’s government provides universal healthcare to its citizens, however many areas still have very limited access, zero resources, and poor training. If you believe in community service and making healthcare accessible to all people, a medical volunteer project in Peru is a great place to start. Maximo Nivel’s Medical Specialist leads volunteers at rural clinics where you work with medical professionals to provide patient care including check-ups, vital signs, needs assessments, patient records, and preparing materials and equipment.
As an international volunteer, you may also get involved with medical campaigns that provide medical services to underprivileged communities outside of Cusco. When possible, dental and hygiene education are also provided to promote preventative care. Medical projects have a huge impact in the communities you serve, and you can be proud of your medical work abroad!
In developing countries like Peru, individuals with special needs can be marginalized and left to fend for themselves. These people are not provided the adequate resources necessary to thrive at their highest potential. Volunteers work in assisted-living facilities dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly and individuals with mental or physical disabilities. These projects help make the “invisible population” more visible. Being “different” or “disabled” is not easy in Peru and as a volunteer, you can help these amazing people feel important and cared for.
Project sites include a facility for children battling Leukemia, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities for people with disabilities, and a home for people infected with HIV. As an international volunteer, you work with project staff to assist with mealtimes, conversation-talk therapy, exercise workshops, arts and crafts activities, as well as sorting and distributing medicine. Qualified volunteers may also get involved with physical therapy. To be a great healthcare volunteer, you must possess patience, compassion, and sensitivity—you should come ready to jump in!
Maximo Nivel works with several dog shelters to provide housing, healthcare, and adoption services in and around Cusco. In Peru, domesticated dogs are often neglected or abandoned by their owners, resulting in a large number of strays and street dogs. These animals go hungry, their health suffers, and they can create safety issues for the public. These shelter projects typically house over 50 dogs who need attention, love, and care.
As an international volunteer, you help provide exercise, grooming, and medical treatment–bathing, brushing walking, and basic obedience training; you also clean kennels, so please be ready! You may also help with education, spay/neuter programs, and fundraising. All animal care projects are very under-funded and depend heavily on volunteer efforts, so if you are a true animal lover, please come help!
The alpaca project works directly with the unique camelid creatures (related to camels) native to Peru. Volunteers work on a farm owned and operated by a Peruvian family in the village of Huayllarcocha, approximately 30 minutes from Cusco. The farm’s main objective is to care for the animals, produce traditional Peruvian textiles from their wool, and educate both tourists and local people. The farms uses traditional methods of shearing, worsting, dyeing, and weaving. This placement is best for people who are comfortable around animals.
As an international volunteer, you work with alpacas and llamas cleaning and maintaining pens and feeding the animals. Note, working with alpacas and llamas is not easy, as the animals can be very active and moody. Depending on your level of Spanish, you may also get involved with other activities such as light construction and maintenance, caring for sick animals, and even helping out with the weaving! The alpaca project is especially well-suited to volunteers who bring lots of positive energy and take initiative.
The Zoo Project is led by the national university based in Cusco. This is a rehabilitation center whose primary mission is to care for rescued and injured animals that have been confiscated from people who steal them from the wild. The end goal is to nurture the animals back to health, before hopefully releasing them into their natural habitat. The zoo project is a small nonprofit operation with very few public visitors, and it subsists on very little funding and the work of volunteers and students.
As an international volunteer, you are dedicated to the treatment and care of the rescued animals. Responsibilities include feeding, cage cleaning, light construction work, and some basic conservation work. You work alongside professional staff and university students and may also get involved with hosting young student groups who visit the zoo. This project is best suited for people who are comfortable around animals.
The eco-agriculture project in Peru takes place in the Huyro Region in the highlands of the Amazon rainforest. Volunteers live and work at this off-site project, which is approximately 3 hours from the Maximo Nivel institute in Cusco. Volunteers take part in the production of some of the highest quality tea, coffee, and chocolate in the world and experience traditional life with a local farming family.
As an international volunteer, you work with local tea, coffee, and cacao growers in a collective farming project. Volunteers work in every step of the production process including picking, weeding, planting new trees, roasting, and even packaging. As part of your project, you learn about efficient farming practices and environmental sustainability. You may also get involved with reforestation efforts and various community activities.
Maximo Nivel construction projects are great placements, as you can see the impact you make every day! Our local construction foreman leads volunteers in building community centers, small clinics, animal shelters, and refurbishing schools. Give back to local communities through real development work–help provide access to adequate education and healthcare facilities, which in turn reduces the risk for disease and increases literacy rates.
As an international volunteer, your work includes digging, removing dirt, mixing cement, carrying bricks, preparing adobe, painting, and plastering. Get physical and embrace the hard work required to truly do good for others! Note that most construction projects in Peru still use traditional building methods and materials such as adobe, plaster, and bamboo.
The Amazon jungle is one of the great rainforests of the world, and it plays an important role in the Earth’s sustainability. Over the years, deforestation began with small farmers and quickly grew with the effects of commercial logging operations. Now, with increased environmental protection and private and public initiatives, deforestation has slowed. However, your help is needed to continue these efforts and to rebuild as much jungle as possible.
As an international volunteer, you take part in reforestation efforts including planting trees, shrubs, and orchids as well as removing invasive species of bamboo. Your volunteer project may also include working with wildlife and animal monitoring, trail maintenance, and educational workshops for local communities. Your work is important to save and protect the Amazon jungle to benefit future generations.