Six months into our travel through South America, we were lucky enough to find ourselves in beautiful Huanchaco. After spending a few days in town we were seduced by the long days of sunshine and relaxed atmosphere and decided to look into some volunteer options, as it´s such a perfect spot to stop for a while and enjoy life by the beach. We emailed Otra Cosa Network and had a reply from the lovely Laura within half an hour, enough said a few days later we were all organised with volunteer positions to suit us both. Paul in the office 4hours a day, as his background is online marketing. I (Lucy) am a nurse in Australia, and was keen to be working with children. I was placed in a Wawa Wasi a daycare project for 4 hours each morning (20hrs a week).
Paul had a great time in the office, helping the Otra Cosa Network team with new ideas to spread the word and encourage more volunteers to come and help in this great part of the world. Wawa Wasi is a fantastic government funded project, which selects a mother living in a disadvantaged area to provide daycare for 8 children every day, so their parents can try to find much needed work. The children are aged between 6months to 4 years, and as you can imagine, that is quite a handful for any one person. I was able to get involved and help straight away as there was always something to be done. The children were absolutely gorgeous and a pleasure to spend time with, as was my Madre (mother) Anita, who was running the Wawa Wasi I was volunteering at.
An important part of the Wawa Wasi was mealtime, and the food provided is fantastic. The children get breakfast, a hot lunch, and lots of fruit and snacks in between. For most of the children this was the main food for their day, as they may otherwise have been eating white bread and rice, not what growing bodies need! I soon learnt not to look the other way during mealtime, otherwise their hands would be straight into the bowl of food and suddenly it was across the table, chair and any other child nearby!
After traveling through South America for so many months, we had been through poor areas but it was quite different to be involved and see the poverty first hand. An eye opener, especially for Paul as he had been in the office, was the day trip to visit all the volunteer projects Otra Cosa Network are involved with, which included many schools, homes for orphans and the rubbish tip, where there are many families actually living, or surviving amongst the rubbish. This was such an important day, and I encourage all volunteers to go along.
When I finished I gave the children a book, which they absolutely loved, as they only had one other book there to read, and they wouldn´t put it down! I felt empowered whilst volunteering at the Wawa Wasi and it was a nice change for us to have a break from traveling, help and be a part of the community. This is what volunteering is about, an experience that Otra Cosa Network was able to provide. THANK YOU!
We are now continuing our travels north towards Canada, feel free to check out our travel blog here: www.thenomadway.com