“I was in Arequipa with Traveller Not Tourist for 6 months as part of my year abroad. I took a chance by going to South America and it was more than worth it, and I wish I could have stayed out there longer.
When I first arrived, it felt so strange to finally be there, after so many months of planning. I was welcomed by the staff and current volunteers straight away which made the transition from England to Peru that much easier. The city is just as beautiful as advertised, and there were so many things to see.
The culture and lifestyle of Peru is so incredible and really changed me in the best ways. It was also so easy to go visit some of the most popular sights in Peru, such as Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and Cusco, made all the more better by the volunteers and other travellers that join in on the adventure.
My time as the volunteer coordinator with TNT was some of the best months of my life and to be involved in such an amazing organization really was the best part of the job. Even though I usually spoke with the volunteers in English, I improved my Spanish so much from speaking with the projects and tour companies and of course the locals and it really made an impact in helping me understand what I want out of a future career.
To meet people from different countries, backgrounds, and experiences was an added bonus. To give these people the opportunity to not only see an incredible country but to also make an enormous contribution of time and happiness to the children here in Arequipa made me feel so great, and just shows what incredible work Traveller Not Tourist is doing.
Some of my best times there, were showing the new volunteers around the city, showing them the incredible sites in the centre and of course showing them how to use the craziness that Peruvians call a bus service. Also going around the markets and finding out about the “witch” area where I was once offered a gecko to improve a wound or spending lunch in the picanterias to experience local food, which is delicious. There was no comparison to the day to day life I had the pleasure of enjoying there.
The projects that Traveller Not Tourist is involved with are doing incredibly good work. I would like to mention the Kindergarten in particular, as I became very close with the amazing lady running it. Their main priority is giving these children a good start in education, in a safe environment when their parents need to work. I remember one day, when I went in to check how the volunteers were doing, I got to go round and judge the classrooms for the first day of spring, as each year group had made decorations and hung them up around the room. Seeing how excited they were was just incredible and the kindergarten as a whole gives me hope that these kids can achieve great things in the future.
Towards the end of my time in Arequipa, I got to be a part of a big push forward in the construction of the new Casa Hogar. Alongside members of both Pachawawas and Stitching, and of course the incredible local volunteers, we sanded and painted the walls in what will be an incredible future for the project. I can’t wait to see it finished and see the chance for more kids to get the help they need.
For me, the reaction that really showed me how truly valuable my time with Traveller Not Tourist was, was when I arrived back home and went for a big dinner with my family and everyone kept saying how much I was smiling and how healthy and happy I looked. I wouldn’t trade my time in Arequipa for anything, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to make a difference not only to the children out there, but also their own life. And to all the amazing people involved in the projects and of course the beautiful children I met as well, I miss you all, and will be coming back at the first possible chance.”
Kimmy, March 2016