Volunteering in Peru - A Delphi nurse talks about her experience
Volunteering in Peru - a Delphi nurse talks about her experience
Many of us at Delphi have been waiting to hear back from one of our nursing team who has been volunteering in Peru with street children. Andrea has kindly agreed to share with us some of her photos and has written a short account of her trip. I'd like to pass on Andrea's words;
"PERU STREET KIDS PROJECT -Sept-Oct 2013
I chose this volunteer trip to experience the lives of street kids in Peru. My intention was to spend two weeks with the boys and girls in two separate orphanages and perform basic health checks on them and set up and equip a room with supplies I took over with me.
There's something about Peru that I've been drawn to since a child, but was unaware what. Cuzco, Peru - beautiful! However, like most cities it has a good side and a not so good side, the poorer poverty stricken side. This is where I would be staying in Zarezuela, in the boys orphanage. Not at all as I imagined, the huge 3 story building was I think originally built to be a hotel, but never was. It was purchased and donated by an American Christian Organisation to become an orphanage for Peru Street Kids who had become orphans not due to losing their parents, but because they had either ran away and lived on the streets due to home circumstances or because they were removed from their homes for their safety. Fortunately these children usually have a sibling too, so are rarely alone. Basic, cold, sparse, and locked in - this is the environment they now live in. These kids may appear to not have anything, but they are kept safe, warm, fed, clothed, educated and with their siblings.
There are two separate orphanages which merge at the weekends. The boys can house 40, but only 19 were when I was there. There were 11 girls aged between 4 and 14 yrs. I can categorically state that I have never met such respectful and polite children! Their days consisted of schooling, a religious based talk by the helpers there, chores, homework and play - and, of course, interaction with the volunteers.
A room had been made in this 'hotel' that would've been a clinic, and there was stored equipment for it that hadn't been used. Two days of clearing out and setting up then cleaning everywhere transformed the room into a Clinical Environment that could now be used and continue to be used!
I stocked the cupboards with the supplies I took. Paracetamol tablets and liquid, ibuprofen, antihistamines, milk of magnesia, gaviscon, antiseptic creams, heat gel, dressings, plasters, bandages, thermometers (various), 2x BP monitors and a manual cuff and stethoscope, multi vitamins, various sized toothbrushes, toothpaste (courtesy of Gary the Dentist at HMPS LF) and some hand gels, wet wipes and other cleansing/hygiene products. The orphanage also housed children from the local school for an after school homework club so some days for a couple of hours there would be up to 30-40 children.
I held clinic sessions in the afternoons checking height, weight, chest, heart, BP, pulse, temp, their mouths, basic hygiene, skin and any wounds etc. The excitement of the kids was apparent as they climbed all over me, hung off the scales, commandeered the equipment and started to copy me in everything I was doing. The look on their faces when I offered them to listen to their own heartbeat, then mine and the other kids was priceless! Some had skin conditions, mild and mainly due to hygiene and could be sorted. Warts on hands were common too, few wounds and lots of lumps and bruises from the boisterous boys! But overall a healthy bunch of incredibly happy, motivated, respectful kids who are admirably strong despite their backgrounds.
spent early evenings and some early mornings playing football with the boys,
teaching them to count by playing dominoes and them teaching me Spanish! (or as I've
now mastered - Spanglish!)
The money I collected from the "Pennies for Peru" enabled me to provide a well balanced meal for 60 and stock up on corn, rice, pasta and vegetables that would've lasted them around a week. There's no funding at the orphanages and they rely on volunteers placement fees to keep them supported.
No trip to Peru would've been complete without some sight seeing of course..Machu Picchu is awesome, breathtaking..in fact beautiful scenery on all trips, Lake Titicaca and the floating Islands, and a few days spent in an Eco Lodge in the jungle.Totally amazing and an Experience of a lifetime! Fascinating culture, enchanting country, wonderful people, interesting customs and beautiful loving children who expect nothing and embrace everything.
I feel privileged to have spent time in Peru with these kids who feel safe, loved and cared for and are able to enjoy an as normal a childhood as possible with the help of the orphanage and its volunteers.
Many thanks to my colleague Jon Occleshaw for raising money from our Three Peaks Walk and also to all those who made donations which enabled me to purchase the items I took out there with me.
The smiles made it all worthwhile :)"
We are really grateful to have colleagues like Andrea amongst our team and it is inspirational to see what she has been able to achieve. Once again thank you for sharing Andrea and we are sure you are planning another trip soon!