I have always wanted to travel to South America. Apart from my desire to learn Spanish and salsa, I am a big fan of traveling, so Amazon jungle, beautiful mountains with hidden cities, Rio, beaches… sounded very tempting. Volunteering seemed to be the best option because you can get to know the country not only as a tourist and on top of it you help community.
As I wanted to arrange my volunteering experience ahead I used website workaway. I was interested in project with children and I didn’t want to stay in a big city, so from all the alternatives I chose an NGO in Trujillo, North part of Peru. I talked to the director of the NGO and arranged my stay. However, not everything went according to the plan and the NGO wasn’t what I expected. I ended up changing the project that was in the end amazing!
So what are the NGOs in Trujillo like? Here is my experience:
Help Trujillo a.k.a Help Denis
NGO – DESCRIPTION (just as a warning)
“NGO” Help Trujillo is actually a private business of its director- Denis Angeles (sometimes he also changes his name and introduces as Jose). He is taking advantage of the fact that Europeans are willing to pay money for volunteering. He asks for money ahead or first days when volunteers get there and after a few weeks he says that project was suddenly turned down or that his house needs renovation. He is not willing to give all the money back. After old volunteers leave he has new ones coming and do the same strategy. He is really smart cause he asks all the volunteers to write reviews in the beginning, he takes pics that he posts them on FB so his NGO online looks like it’s working well. Be careful with him, there are many reports on police on him, not only for stealing money but also for a sexual abuse. By any reason don´t consider projects with Denis involved.
Price was different for each of us, I guess depending on the country. I was supposed to pay 150$ per month for accommodation and food but for other girls it was 250$… Some of them paid for 3 months ahead and never got money back.
Volunteers used to stay in the same house with his family – on the second floor with separate entrance in Esperanza but then I was lucky to meet another group of volunteers that lived in separate volunteer house in Florencia de Mora.
Denis usually uses public schools and says you are going to work in a dog shelter.
Despite the bad experience, I decided with three other girls to find a different NGO. We did pretty good research on all the NGOs in Trujillo. We talked to directors. Some of them are pretty expensive and require high level of Spanish. However, we found some that we really liked: I recommend Spanglisch or Mundo De Ninos. In the end, we couldn´t choose better – Hilo Rojo in Esperanza.
Hilo Rojo was founded in 2013, it is runned by older couple – Americo and Rosmary that are teachers. They will make you feel like at home and help you with anything you will possibly need. It feels like you have a Peruvian family from the first moment you will get there. Moreover, they are amazingly nice and determined to help kids in Esperanza.
Decrease illiteracy and crime through education.
The school is located in one of the poorest areas of Trujillo – Esperanza. It is built to provide education to all of those that are not very fortunate (they either don’t have money or proper documents – so they can’t attend public schools) Kids come from different environments so you will be bale to see different families and conditions of living.
Project itself is teaching of different subjects: English, Arts, Geography, Math, Spanish and also organizing free-time activities. There is a small kindergarten so volunteers that like to take care of smaller kids are very welcome here as well. It’s a rewarding experience! Kids will definitely let you know (with smiles, hugs and kisses) how much they appreciate you! 🙂
Hilo Rojo also organizes many activities to engage kids in some fun parties, festivals or other different events.
Language: in the beginning my Spanish wasn’t good, but I have to say that thanks to the fact that kids in school don’t speak a lot of English, you can improve your Spanish pretty fast. 🙂
Hygiene: School is built in dust so hygiene conditions are very low. However they are slowly working on improvements and I have to say it’s getting better. There is a floor and bathrooms now.
Sad stories: I sometimes got emotional when I got to know the backgrounds of children, some of them have very sad stories that get even sadder when you know you can’t help them all.
Volunteer house is in a different part of the city than the school itself. It ´s a safer area that is also closer to center. However you have to count on taking a bus or taxi (around 1 sol each way) to get to the school. There are 4 rooms for around 16 people in the volunteer house. But if there are more volunteers, you can stay nearby with a Peruvian family. Atmosphere in volunteer house is always very friendly and international, you can meet people all around the world. Moreover, there is a cook that prepares delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think she is the only sarcastic Peruvian I know. Miss her so much!
HOW DOES A REGULAR DAY IN HILO ROJO LOOKS LIKE?
We usually come all of us for morning classes so we woke up around 7, ate breakfast and left house around 8am to go to school where kids have two different classes with half an hour break. The school is until 12:30 so you get back to house around 13:00 for lunch. There is something like the afternoon school club (3pm-6pm) where we always try to be- at least 2 volunteers. Otherwise the director or some Peruvian volunteer is there – kids do homework, or you can do English or art or sports with them or whatever you like. They love music. If you don’t teach in the afternoon, you are free. So you can do whatever you want. Like go to beach or center. Or prepare something for the next day. Moreover, once a week we go to visit families in the afternoon. It’s a bit like social work- to see how is everybody doing, what are the needs and why kids don´t go to school. Definitely a strong experience to see how they live.
5euros/day – food, accommodation and great experience included
FOR MORE INFO ABOUT HILO ROJO -check out:
Latest Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98y02ZDUYDU
Their website: http://www.hilorojo.org/contacto.html
Workaway Profile: https://www.workaway.info/969556284666-en.html
What is important to say is that I have stayed with Hilo Rojo for 2 years and they became my family. I am sure that anybody that is thinking of spreading a bit of love and help around will be incredibly happy to be part of Hilo Rojo project.