The moment we found out we were coming to Peru was pretty surreal. Despite the thought of leaving our families and friends for 5 months being extremely daunting, we could not wait to start our journey to South America. We never thought we would be afforded such an opportunity and it's not often someone can say at the ages of 18 and 19 that they have spent 5 months living, working and experiencing Peru first hand. We spend months preparing for the trip and come the 28TH February 2013 we began our journey from Manchester Airport.
Neither of us could speak a word of Spanish when we arrived to Peru and it was an overwhelming experience. However, soon after getting to the volunteer house we were on the packed, stuffy and small local bus to Huanchaco, no consideration made for 6 foot tall western women here! Nevertheless, we returned back to the house, ravished with sun burn to spend our first night in the beds which were soon to become our home.
We are both currently studying a BA in Social Work at The University of York and we are doing our first year placement at SKIP. Our main role here is teaching English but we are also involved in communications and photography projects alongside tackling university work. Although everything has been very full on since we arrived, teaching English to a class of up to 35 children has become our new guilty pleasure. The love and effort we receive from each and every child in their own individual ways, have created some of the most profound and special memories for the both of us. During photography class where we took 15 secondary students to the top of 'Cerro Bolongo' which is a huge sand dune at the back end of Alto Trujillo. The bright red face, aching legs and embarrassing shortness of breath was totally worth it for the astonishing views we were able to share with the kids when we got to the top. Whoever said work was boring is so wrong! Next stop, Día del Niño (children's day)...
Completely unsure what to expect from the day, we rolled up to the SKIP office as we do every Saturday morning, in a cramped taxi with about five other volunteers, and a typically miserable driver. However, as we arrived today we were greeted by nearly every primary SKIP child playing with their trompos (wooden spinning tops) which every boy in El Porvenir seems to have mastered the technique of.
The morning began making up endless party bags, and inflating modelling balloons. Chipper as ever though, it was all hands on deck from the SKIP volunteers, who can make a joke out of anything, making the situation in to a game rather than a job. There was a constant whir of noise coming from behind the entrance to the office, a sound of excitement which seemed to grow as the beginning of the party drew closer. The staff began to form a tunnel for the children to pass through on the way in to the party, and the children were released through the huge iron-gate.
The children gathered in the patio, and sat in a large square, and screamed with enthusiasm as the clowns and dancers arrived and the crazy playlist of Peruvian party songs began booming from the speakers. The morning continued with a range of party games, including races to put pegs in volunteer's hair, team races to complete tasks and dancing competitions, all fuelled by sweet prizes! Toward the end of the morning there was a "Hora Loca" (Crazy hour) which we were informed was a big thing at Peruvian parties. The children were doing the limbo and the conga, there was confetti and inflatable balloons creating a mass of colour to complement the laughter from the children that filled the air. However, there is no denying that as much fun was had by the volunteers, who spent the morning dancing and playing with the children.
We have had an amazing time so far with SKIP and we both feel like we have learnt so much about ourselves, other people and their cultures. SKIP has been a truly life changing experience and we have both made friends we hope to stay in contact for the rest of our lives. We are really sad to be leaving, and we hope to return to SKIP again.