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Living in Cusco as a LAFF volunteer

I’m working for LAFF for 6 months as part of my University placement year. I decided to apply for LAFF, because I wanted experience working for an NGO. I was also very pleased to know that LAFF purely dedicates all its resources to benefit the children of areas near Cusco, Peru. I have worked for LAFF for 2 months now and the NGO has exceeded my expectations! Not only living in one of the best cities in the world, LAFF truly dedicates all their time and energy to supporting over 110 children. You really feel like you’re making an impact here, which is the ultimate goal for any NGO.

AN ‘AVERAGE’ WEEK FOR A LAFF VOLUNTEER

Something I really value about working for LAFF is that you don’t do the same thing every day. You don’t spend the whole week in an office! Your time varies between visiting partners, carrying out workshops, or doing market research!

Mondays always start with an 11 o’clock meeting to discuss the tasks of the week ahead. Our communications coordinator holds the meeting and the volunteers individually discuss their plans of the week. This is also an opportunity for the volunteers to see how we can work together and help each other with either workshops, projects, ideas or mundane LAFF tasks. After the meeting its potluck! Everyone has to bring a dish to work to share at lunch. I went a solid month of just bringing fruit because the thought of making a dish was too much effort (it’s very cheap to eat out in Cusco). Once lunch is over, its back to the office and you hope it isn’t your turn to wash up this week. The afternoon consists of carrying out tasks that we discussed in the meeting and then trying to encourage the first person to stand up from their chair to make you a coffee.

Tuesday. My day normally begins by checking my emails. Once I have replied to everyone I begin by checking our JustGiving page, to update any new funds and then fill out our analytics of social media websites and make progress reports. By lunchtime I usually go to Bobs. If you’re a LAFF volunteer, within the first week you will get to know Bobs’ restaurant. Bobs is a ‘menu economico’ restaurant, providing a soup, main dish and some sort of jelly/liquid dessert along with some strange hot drink that tastes like celery (known as ‘mate’). This place is S/.7 for lunch and never disappoints. Around 1-2pm you will find most LAFF volunteers and Globalteer volunteers in Bobs along with the Peruvian regulars. My afternoon consists of making sure I have chips ahoy (the cheapest and best chocolate cookies you’ll ever find in Peru), running the Ambassadors Programme, replying to emails and coming up with new campaign strategies for LAFF.

 

Wednesday. Earlier start because I teach yoga at 9:30am to the girls from Casa Mantay (one of our partner organisations looking after teenage mothers). With my poor Spanish they usually have to copy every move I do! I really enjoy teaching the girls yoga. I normally carry out the class in the garden, which is so nice when it’s sunny (despite the fact I end up with red cheeks from a sun burn). I feel like the girls are improving too because they are getting much better at being able to touch their toes and have told me they have been stretching more! Once the class is over I head back to the office to complete my tasks of the day and start coming up with a theme for the pub quiz. The pub quiz happens every Wednesday and we raise funds from the S/.6 donation to enter the pub quiz. It’s a great way to fundraise and advertise LAFF.

Thursday. I normally work from home in the morning and then head to Casa Mantay in the afternoon to help run English workshops for the girls. This is also a mini Spanish lesson for me, and the girls find it funny due to my inability to roll my ‘Rs’! This week we also did market research in Calca for the possibility of setting up a social enterprise bakery. Another volunteer and I measured the amount of people passing through this village and chatted to them about whether they think a bakery in this village is a good and sustainable idea, and what produce we should sell.

Friday. This is day is normally wrapping up the week’s tasks. We try to do something fun to post on social media and because its Friday! For example, last week we did the ‘exotic fruit challenge’. A blindfolded challenge of tasting different types of local fruit they have here in Peru. Besides completing the finishing work tasks such as recruitment, campaigns, writing blogs, advertising or filling in database spreadsheets, Friday is usually a day for organising trips at the weekend!

The weekend makes you realise that your placement with LAFF is so different to all your friends back at home. Planning trips to see Machu Picchu, Salkantay trek, the Amazon jungle, hikes, and excursions to the salt lakes in Bolivia or spending the weekend being a tourist and walking around beautiful Cusco! You soon realise how lucky you are to be living in such a wonderful place with so much to do next to you.

 

Doing a six-month internship with LAFF was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! If you would like to see how a grassroots NGO operates, work with children, come up with solutions to provide more educational opportunities for children and young people and work in a team full of dedicated volunteers, then LAFF is the organisation to apply for. Not only do you get all the benefits of working for an NGO, you also get to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and potentially visit one of the world’s seven wonders: ‘Machu Picchu’!

 

If you are thinking about applying to work with LAFF visit our website or alternatively get in touch with our communications coordinator ([email protected]) to see how your skills could benefit us!

The Jungle!