Poor Peruvian family at home in the Andes

 

Meet the current needs of Andean communities in Peru while forging an understanding of different cultures.
Volunteer and Peruvian man talking

Volunteers come to Peru from around the world to bring a variety of skills and ideas. Volunteers become a memorable part of our school, agriculture, business, and wellness projects and contribute to their long-term success. Volunteer projects take place in and around Huancayo, an Andean city located at 3300m (11000 ft) above sea level in one of Peru's poorest regions. On the ground, Blue Sparrow volunteers are highly independent. We will be available for support, but you are given the power and the responsibility to execute your plan and make changes as necessary.

Blue Sparrow will not be accepting volunteers in 2016. Check back in Fall 2016 for future volunteer opportunities.

our partner communities


areas

As a volunteer, you will get involved in one of our four project areas, according to your interests and the needs of the organization and project. We work individually with each volunteer to create a specific work plan outlining activities and schedules. Check out the projects section for details on each project.

Two Peruvian students working on a computerConectados: Teaching basic computer skills in a classroom setting, as well as the opportunity to run a personally designed class according to a current need, or your unique ability. We need volunteers who are passionate about youth empowerment, comfortable leading a class in Spanish, and who can work closely with teachers and school directors.
Baby guinea pigs in the Andes, PeruMicrofinance: Small loans for business and farming. We identify, monitor, and support individuals in our target communities as they supplement their income with a new business. We need business-minded individuals who can give tools and information about making a small business successful.  Knowledge in small animal reproduction and sales are a plus.
Peruvian potato harvest by handHectareMax: We provide agricultural tools and equipment to reduce farm labor and improve nutrition, income, and give kids more time for school. We need trainers and expertise in current farming methodology & technology, or planting and harvesting hands in peak months. Teach or learn--the fields are waiting!
Young Peruvian girl with chapped skinWellness:  Total wellness, health, and sociological needs are the foundation for this area.  It can encompass miniprojects such as domestic heating, drinking water safety, home renovation, or other quality of life improvements. We perform research and development, identifying the community’s current needs, and exploring potential partner communities.  This is a very intimate and interactive place to volunteer and requires a heart of compassion as you work with individual families.


living


Living with a host family is a highlight of the Blue Sparrow volunteer program.  We have hand-selected families from specific areas to host our volunteers.  You will live, sleep, eat, and work with your family. This gives you a chance to develop a close, lasting relationship, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of Peruvian culture.  Although we offer other accommodation options, host families consistently have the most impact and connection for volunteers.

All of the families will go over and above to help you feel welcome. However, it’s important to consider what it means to live with an impoverished family in rural Peru. The conditions are likely very different from your past experiences. In some ways, it’s comparable to camping. Living conditions are very basic, but you will have a bed, three meals a day, and water for washing.


Volunteer with Peruvian family in the Andes
The majority of host families are subsistence farmers. Western comforts such as refrigerators, ovens, or television are extremely rare. There is no hot water or home heating, so everyone sleeps with plenty of blankets as nighttime temperatures fall below freezing. Meals are prepared from the family’s own harvest of potatoes, beans, and some vegetables--all cooked on an open flame. Their days are filled tending to their animals, working their farms and selling their produce.

Although all families have access to running water, showers and toilets are uncommon. Most families have a dirt latrine near the house. Bathing is with a hose or buckets. You can meet all of your needs, but perhaps not in the way you’re used to. After all, your host family manages in these conditions year-round.


Inside a poor Andean home in PeruVolunteers living with a Peruvian host familyVolunteer washing her hair in a bucket in the Andes
The city of Huancayo is a short bus ride away. There, you can find several local markets, plentiful internet and other services, and Western-style fast food.

After we receive your application, we will send you a detailed document containing full details on accommodation, climate, and other considerations.

cost

Blue Sparrow cannot simply absorb the cost of hosting volunteers. And yes, there is a cost--bedding, gas, materials, and staff hours. Similarly, host families live on very tight budgets and need financial support in order to accept volunteers. The monthly stipend covers these costs, and the remainder allows the family to make a small purchase like a new winter coat or school supplies. They would never accept your money as a gift, so this is an opportunity for you to help in a culturally appropriate way.

Location Monthly Cost ($US) Amenities
Host family $160 basic bed, storage space, all meals (basic diet)
Blue Sparrow Office $285 mattress, locked storage space, all meals (complete diet), WiFi, kitchen access
Private hotel $450 mattress, locked storage space, WiFi, hot showers



questions


Check the Guide section for thorough information.

Will I be safe?
Peru is a safe place. The main crime is pickpocketing, although more serious crime does happen. Basic precautions can avoid most problems. As for your host family, they are always recommended by the community and confirmed at a meeting of the parents' association. This is additional to Blue Sparrow members meeting the family in person and talking with them. In rural areas outside the city, crime is very rare.

How much time will I work per week? Do I have weekends free?
As a volunteer, you've made a commitment to the community to give all the help you're able. You still have free time, but teaching commitments should be your first priority. You might teach 2-4 classes per day and help with other projects in the afternoon. Weekends are generally free.

What should I expect for living expenses?
As a live-in volunteer, your host family provides your food and lodging. You pay for transport, communication, and any personal expenses. If you live moderately, expect your costs to be less than US$100 per month.

A trip to town: $0.50
A pound of fruit: $0.30 - $0.90
A bottle of Coke: $0.50
A meal at a local restaurant: $2.50

Can you recommend other volunteer organizations in South America?
Blue Sparrow is part of the Volunteer Abroad network, a listing of organizations with quality projects in Latin America. Volunteer South America, another excellent resource, has a curated list of organizations that accept volunteers.

Happy young Peruvian boy

apply

We'd love to have you! First, apply online to volunteer. We'll review your application and provide some initial feedback regarding program options and locations. Then, you'll receive a thorough Volunteer Guide with more details. We'll help you to create your work plan and coordinate your arrival. See you in Peru!

If you're traveling beyond Huancayo and looking for more low-cost volunteer opportunities throughout South America, check out the excellent listings at www.volunteersouthamerica.net and Volunteer Abroad.

internships

Blue Sparrow is looking for long-term volunteers with advanced Spanish to help expand and grow our projects. Interns commit to at least six months with Blue Sparrow and receive subsidized accommodation costs. As an intern, you will work closely with our team to monitor, evaluate, and implement changes to our projects. If you're excited to spend time learning about our partner communities and rethink traditional approaches, we'd like to talk to you.

In 2014, our focus is on starting our first independent training center. We're also examining our role in the school community (and post-school: work or further study), finding ways to push our involvement deeper, especially after students graduate. Your work as an intern will include interviewing students and teachers, running focus groups and activities, and working independently in Huancayo to create contacts with business owners, postsecondary institutions, and other high schools. You can live with a host family or in the Blue Sparrow office.

Sounds good? Start by filling out our application, and explain your interest in the comments section. Remember that you must already have strong Spanish and be able to commit at least six months.

blog

So what's it really like? Read about the volunteer experience from the people who know it best: volunteers. Get a head start on what's happening, and meet part of the team you'll be joining. It's all at blog.bluesparrow.org.