Volunteer Name: Creighton DeYoung
Project Location: Cusco, Peru
Program Dates: From 03/23/2014 to mm/30/2014
Volunteered at: Pre-medical project
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
This trip was the first time I had traveled abroad by myself, and I was a little bit nervous about the logistics. However, I was very pleased to find that the ABV Coordinator (Beatriz) was exceptionally accommodating. Despite flight complications, and several other uncontrollable mishaps, my week in Peru was worry free and successful. A large of which can be attributed to the ABV Coordinator.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing for me was the standard of the medical facility and staff. I was expecting far worse! It was a clean building with professional staff. While it is nice to know the patients at my clinic are in good hands, I wish I could have played a more integral role in the medical field.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing for me was working with the children in the clinic. I was concerned by the conditions in which they lived. The physical environment was quite nice, however, the children lacked personal social attention. At the end of the day, it was hard for me to tear myself away from the kids.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Make Machu at least a two day trip.
4.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a.-Don’t carry all your money around with you, even if it is in a money belt.
b.-Buy a map of the city and keep it with you. Study it a little bit if you have time.
c.-You might be surprised by the amazing conversations you can have with completely random people, if take the time to initiate it.
d.-Plan a group dinner with at least some of the other volunteers; it makes living in a foreign country far less lonely.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
Overall, I absolutely loved my experience in Cusco, Peru. It was definitely the best way I could have spent my one week of spring break. Although I volunteered in a medical setting, I would have liked to been included more in working with patients. That being said, I do feel as though I made a difference in the lives of some – the children. If asked whether or not I would sign up for this trip all over again, I would absolutely say, “Yes.”
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
The accommodations were excellent in my case. I absolutely loved my host family, and it is a shame I have to leave them. The meals were great and I always felt safe. As I said before, my only negative remark is the lack of medical experience I actually gained compared to my expectations. I paid to volunteer, so if I were to participate in this program again, I would do so under the assumption I would be working closely with doctors and I would be given more responsibility.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
In the clinic, it was definitely attending to the children. I formed some special connections with a few patients that will leave a mark on me forever. Outside of the clinic, Machu Picchu definitely the highlight of my trip. All I can say is that it is one of the most awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen.
8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
It was decent. I could have used more information from the program. For example, instead of emails sent from a machine, I would have liked to receive personal emails from my coordinator, or at least have an email address for more personal and specific communication. Also, I did not know until I got to the clinic what kind of work I would be doing, so more information in that regard would have been nice. ( ABV response: Program Summary was sent 30 days prior to traveling, we also have a direct line and a chat online to talk to us and in the travel guide you had the direct contact information to the coordinator, the "machine emails" are just so you can remember to send all the paper work and get already before the trip)
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers
Since, I only had time to stay for one week, I do not think I would be able to give the most detailed advice to future volunteers.