The first Project Trust volunteer to go on a Peru Gap Year worked for the Peruvian Times in 1971/72. But this project only ran for one year, and no more Project Trust volunteers went to Peru until 1995. Since then almost 200 volunteers have been placed in this amazing South American country.
All the Project Trust Gap Year Volunteers in Peru work in aldeas. Aldea translates as ‘village’ and aldea infantil is ‘children’s village’. It is described as an orphanage but actually many children there are not orphans. Some come from large families whose parents can’t afford to look after them, some are street children who have run away from home and some are kids who’ve been taken away from their parents by the authorities because they are not being looked after properly. Some stay for a few days or weeks and some are there their whole life depending on circumstances.
All the aldeas are government funded and the projects are all in different provinces of Peru. The aldeas are split into individual houses where there is a Tia, literally meaning ‘auntie,’ who is the house mother. The tias look after up to ten children who eat, sleep and do chores in that house. The aldea is an enclosed area typically with the individual houses, an admin office, storage for food, a library, hall for parties and outdoor playing space.
Peru Gap Year- Peruvian dancing
Living and working in the same environment can be intense but rewarding for that reason. The children in the aldeas only speak Spanish, so you’re immersed in the language from day one, and volunteers quickly become fluent. Because volunteers spend so much time with the staff and children at the aldeas they form very strong relationships.
At weekends you have the opportunity to visit other volunteers in their projects or travel to nearby attractions. There is a huge amount to do in Peru, from jungle tours, swimming in the Amazon, surfing on the coast and trekking in the Andes, not to mention Machu Pichu.