Since being in Villa El Salvador for a fair amount of time we have started to really get the feel of the place. Little sounds and sights have changed from new, interesting and unique to now a normal part of our life here. The sounds from our window, including the song that accompanies the garbage truck and the men driving small motorbikes speaking on megaphones, to the sights of the small motor taxis speeding down the roads, will forever stick in minds associated with the district of Villa El Salvador.

We have also really learnt just how hard the community works together to sustain and develop the district. There are a plethora of organisations that work in the different aspects of Villa that enable people to come together and help each other where help is needed.

In our spare time away from our placements we have tried to participate as much as possible in these different organisations to help and learn from the many people that are involved. To mention a few, we have got involved in the local nursery and health clinic, and hopefully helped in the best way we could.

Helping at the health clinic

The health clinic is a small surgery which is open to the local community in which the patients do not have to pay for the service which is given. On the 9th of November it celebrated its 8th year anniversary of it being open and we were invited to the party. One thing for sure we’ve learned is that people in Peru sure know how to celebrate any occasion! The celebration took place in front of the centre and was crowded with people, a band playing, delicious food passed around and of course dancing.

The work we do in the health clinic is a bit repetitive, although always appreciated. The medicine and equipment is a bit outdated but as it is cheap and easy to obtain it is the best they have to work with. As a result of this we have to do things like helping wrap up plastic gloves in paper before sanitising them in an oven, whereas in developed countries these would be usually purchased pre-packed.

Helping at the nursery

The nursery is another place we have had the pleasure to help in. There’s only a few members of staff and plenty of kids so they are always pleased for people to help occupy the kids. It is funded and organised by the Catholic Church and they work really hard with few supplies and little staff.

Stephen, one of the ICS volunteers, decided to take some of the kids on a trip to the local park. Assisted by some of the other volunteers they took a group of thirty kids to see what the park had to offer and they were very happy to see the animals and visit the fun fair. The kids and even the volunteers had a blast, so much so that there were a few tears from the children when they had to leave.

Nursery trip to the park and zoo

Helping to fundraise for the local church

Finally we had a great chance to get involved with the local church in an annual fundraiser; there was plenty of work to do in a short amount of time. Again there was plenty of food, music and dance but the main work to organise was the tombola. It was a huge raffle that involved 3000 items that had to be labelled, organised and then distributed at the actual event. It was extremely hectic but thoroughly enjoyable interacting with so many people from the community and we also felt some satisfaction from giving a small hand of help in the progress.

ICS volunteers helping at a raffle

Now there are only a few weeks left in our placement – it is strange how fast time flies by! We’re hoping to take full advantage of the time that is left and leave with a bang. In the next blog I’m going to post some reflections from our perspective of the time we have spent here in Villa and the placements we have worked at.

By ICS volunteer Alex Kosieniak-Madejski.

Photos: (top) ICS volunteer Shalina dancing with Miguel, watched by (on right) Tony and Alex; (middle) the nursery trip to the park, left to right ICS volunteer Agata, Bridget being held by her brother, Lucy and her daughter Jessica with Matias, Edith, Josef, and Pedro, and ICS volunteers Hussein and Yohance; (bottom) ICS volunteers Adrianna, Shalina and Alex helping at the raffle.