I volunteered with MySmallHelp in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas for just under one month. I had entered into Bolivia around 4 months earlier and I had free time to start searching the internet for a program I hoped to work with. At the time, I had never done any volunteer work and I didn't really know what I would fit into best. Why did I want to volunteer? It's honestly not something I can answer. It's just a feeling inside, a feeling to share, and to me it doesn't come with any cost.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a loving Christian family who have raised and guided me in ways I can only dream of. The have supported me in every decision I have made, including to travel for one year on South America. It hasn't all been rainbows and lollipops though. We have fought and endured through tough times of my youngest brothers premature birth, loosing our home to a house fire, depression within the family, unexpected death of my 25 year old sister and soon to follow my grandfather due to aggressive oesophagus cancer.
As a 28 year old Irish nurse I volunteered with My Small Help for 4 weeks in June 2014 in Ollantaytambo. My first impression of Ollantaytambo situated in the heart of the sacred valley was how incredible beautiful it was and how could there be poverty' in such a tourist picturesque village.
On my first day I was meet my the 3 other wonderful volunteers in the house and was given a through induction of the program. On my first home visit later that evening I must admit I was truly overwhelmed on the conditions the families were living in. I had no doubt from that point that behind the doors of the beautiful village of Olllantaytambo a lot of help was needed.
MySmallHelp is an amazing NGO that day by day contributes to a lot of lives in the sacred valley. Not only the ones of the beneficiaries, who get a heartful and lovely overall support, but also of the volunteers! I was very close to the team of MSH and made great friends there. You feel every day that your work is needed and well utilized, you get to know the REAL peruvian culture und you'll be very close to the beneficiaries. This was a unique experience and I'll always keep this wonderful people in my heart! "Your small help can make a BIG difference"
Spending a month volunteering in Peru with My Small Help (MSH) was truly a life changing experience! MSH is a non-profit organisation, which works with local disabled children and their families, some of which are in remote areas, where certain services (e.g. special needs schools and health centres) are not accessible. While the immediate challenges include helping to provide access for these families, the ultimate aim is to enable beneficiaries to lead independent, self-sufficient lives, as well as reduce stigma within communities, with regards to disability. I found the application process different to volunteer opportunities offered by gap year or tour companies. The skype chat beforehand with Jessica, the director, was really useful, as it allowed us both to see if I was suitable, and gave me an idea of what to expect. It so ensures all volunteers have similar values and work ethics, so you know that when you arrive, everyone is willing to get stuck in, and open to new and exciting experiences. Whats more, through previous experience, I found tour-led volunteer opportunities often focus more on you, rather than the people you set out to help. With MSH, the work you do is paramount, and in return you will make amazing, lasting memories. I felt safe and comfortable the moment I arrived, and was even met beforehand by Jos, who works with MSH, and travelled with me to Ollantaytambo, introducing me to the house, area and other volunteers; I fell in love with the town that very night! The house is great, with plenty of fresh air and pretty plants; and walking through the street I was always greeted by friendly faces. I was slowly introduced to the work and some of the beneficiaries, and while my Spanish was only very basic, everyone was very accommodating; there was always something I could do, and I was never made me feel isolated. Some of my roles included accompanying young Leonel to a special needs school a 3 hour drive away in Cusco, who would otherwise not have attended. I would also visit Nati, an amazingly strong and friendly disabled, elderly lady. While we would bring her medication and help with little things around her house, she would give us fruits from her garden, while keeping us up to date with the gossip of the day! Each day was very different, and the work was evenly distributed amongst everyone; one day you may be carrying out administrative work in the volunteer house, and the next, travelling to a remote village to provide physio care to a beneficiary. As for the other volunteers, I was extremely lucky to spend the month with some of the kindest people you could meet. They were always cheerful and friendly, which made carrying out work even more enjoyable and memorable. By the end of my time there, I truly felt like part of a little family. Theres also plenty to do in your time off, as Ollantaytambo is within the Sacred Valley and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit for adventure and culture, or just simply to relax after a fulfilling week of hard work. People come from all around the world to holiday in this area, but with MSH I got to really experience it like a local! I cannot recommend volunteering with this charity enough! You will meet some truly wonderful people, and see directly just how your little actions make a great difference. Everything Jessica, Jos and the volunteers do is for the benefit of others, which is very refreshing and humbling to be a part of. If that wasnt enough, youll also get to stay in a beautiful town, full of friendly, welcoming locals! In fact, my time had such an impact on me, that I have now reconsidered my plans back home, and I am currently looking into a career change to move into the charity sector. Thanks MSH!
Hi! I spend one month as al volunteer in the NGO "My Small Help Peru"/ "Mi Pequea Ayuda". Volunteering there gave me the chance to get to know the peruvian people and their culture beside of the touristic stream. I had the opportunity to see how people live and visit and support them at their homes. We stayed together in the volonteer house in Ollantaytambo, from where you can do great tips and hiking. In the house we had a nice atmosphere and we built a nice friendship in between the volunteers and as well Jessica and Jos Luis, the director and the coordinator of the NGO. This friedship still lasts, now almost a year ago since i have been there! It was a great and unique experience, I will never forget! Thank you MSH!!! (why there are not 5 stars everywhere, because sometimes it was difficult to realize a project because the local people didn't stick to a bargain. But its possible to learn how to handle this. ;))
Hello ! I spent 3 weeks volunterring at MSH Peru with my boyfriend. This experience was part of a one year trip around the world. It was a wonderfull experience. Jessica, in charge of the NGO welcomed us very warmly and although she had a lot a tasks, she took a lot of time with us. We spent a lot of time with the beneficiaries of the NGO and met almost all the chilrden and people that MSH took charge of. We were specially close to David and his family, Nati who lived next door, Leonel, Libertad, with whom we spent a lot of time and did many activities or simple visits chatting and communicating. Our activities mainly consisted in spending time with the beneficiaries, which was amazing ! We also helped Jessica in organization and administrative tasks because we have computer and organizing skills, so we also helped in the office to organize documents and rearrange folders. MSH is located in the beautiful Ollantaytambo village and we lived the village life during 3 weeks, getting to know the locals a bit better each day, eating our lunch at the local market with Jessica. We also had time to visit some places around like Urubamba, Pisac... I highly recommend supporting MSH, if you are lucky to travel in the area and want to experience a beautiful time and feel usefull, don't hesitate to volunteer ! If you want to practice your french or just look at the pictures, you can read our article about our experience at MSH here : https://apetitspasblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/un-mois-dans-les-montagnes-peruviennes/#more-908
I have been a volunteer for one year, since 2014, with the association Mi Pequena Ayuda (My Small Help) in Peru. Its difficult to describe one year of work, laughter, energy, and good team vibrations in a few words, but I can say that my experience has been a real opportunity of discovery and learning. My Small Help provides educational and social support to children and people with disabilities, thanks to the collaboration of the childrens families, and in the captivating and beautiful Sacred Valley. However, the real experience that changed my personal point of view and thoughts has been meeting with the beneficiaries (children). Ive been referent for the beneficiaries educational projects and I can say that most of the volunteers are often frustrated when they cant understand a situation of social deprivation in which these people live, in a context in which different economic and social problems are involved; but living for a while with the children and their families taught me that: at the same time you’re thinking of their problems or you’re feeling sad, they go on with their life only searching for a smile and a presence to share their way of thinking, laughing, and playing. So Im very lucky because this experience permitted me to see all this, to learn how important it is to renew your point of view and suspend your judgments, thanks to the great work done by this little association; that is really big in reality, because all the people who help are full of energy, capabilities, and ideas to share to improve the range of opportunities for the people with disabilities of Ollantaytambo and nearby communities. And one more thing that I want to say is that living in the house of volunteers is another great experience that allows you to know people from all over the world, to open your mind, to test you in a context that changes quickly, and to laugh and smile of your time. So, the most beautiful mountains that I have ever seen in my life and the children of Ollantaytambo are waiting for you and your passion. Lets the journey begin!