Overall Rating:/ 10Overall I'd say the program was pretty good. I had been expecting more volunteers to be there which was a bit disappointing. I was the only one working the the medical clinic at the time. That being said, I did learn some useful skills while volunteering in the clinic's laboratory that bolstered the knowledge I had already gained from holding a Biology degree. It was also great that there was an organized volunteer activity each week where all of the volunteers from the different projects came together to do a fun activity or eat dinner with each other.
The country and the people who live there were amazing! Everyone is extremely friendly and I felt very safe walking around and taking public transport. I loved that there is so much history to be found around Cusco, and there always seems to be something interesting happening in the main plaza each day. Additionally, it made a great place to live because everything was relatively cheap, so it's a great place for those needing to live on a budget.
Project & Staff
Omar was extremely helpful while I was there. Unfortunately, I was ill half of the time but Omar was easy to contact and was always trying to make sure that I had all my questions answered and a way to go see an English-speaking doctor if needed. As for the project site, I was a little disappointed at first because I had signed up for the medical program thinking that I was going to be working alongside doctors and with patients. When I arrived, I was placed in the clinic's laboratory. I figured since I was only going to be there for two weeks then it wasn't worth trying to switch anything. It ended up being an interesting experience. I spent most of my time in the laboratory either cleaning microscope slides, making cotton balls, or analyzing stool samples for bacteria and parasites. Not very glamorous, but whatever helps.
Two tips that I have for other volunteers would be to bring along any medications that you think you will need (flu medicine, altitude sickness medicine, etc.). Medications are relatively easy to get in Peru, but often you won't be able to find the same brands or formulas that are found in other countries like the United States. Additionally, if you bring money already exchanged or if you decide to exchange money when you arrive in Peru, stick to the smaller bills and/or coins. Most places don't accept bills larger than 20 or 50 and public transit only uses coins.