New Fathom Philanthropy Cruises

Fathom, Impact + Travel is Carnival Corporation’s new Voluntourism based cruise line that has launched itineraries to the Dominican Republic and Cuba for 2016. Here is a link to their website: www.fathom.org.

The VolunTourism Institute shared their opinion on Carnival’s bold move. Here is their perspective: https://voluntourisminstitute.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/bold-voluntourism-move-by-carnival-will-critics-sink-its-fathom-bid/

And if you’re interested in seeing a sample itinerary for the inaugural cruises, here is one of the Dominican Republic itineraries. Dominican_Republic_Journey_2_pg

We’d love to hear what you think of these cruise itineraries and whether you are likely to make this your next cruise experience. Share your comments below.

How to Get Over Jetlag (the healthy way)

Here are some tips on how to get over jetlag from my colleauge and guest blogger Liz Longacre.

Traveling definitely has its downsides… the lost bags, the dreaded middle seat, the jet lag… Jet lag can ruin a short vacation if you’re not careful making you groggy, irritable, sleepy, and generally not the ball of sunshine I’m sure you normally are! It definitely wipes me out. You may not be
able to control all of the problems you encounter during your journey but what if you could beat jet lag? Here are some tips to minimize that sleepy, fuzzy, hung-over like feeling so you can start enjoying your trip sooner!

Tip #1  – Hydrate! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying greatly dehydrates you.  The average indoor humidity level is usually about 45% but inside a plane cabin it’s 15%. The low humidity along with increased breathing due to high altitudes sucks any moisture right out of the air. You’re left with a very dry environment and an increased
possibility of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include lightheadedness, nausea, muscles cramps and sleepiness. These side effects combined with a thrown-off internal clock can make for a rough trip. In flight alcohol drinking heightens these symptoms so save your cocktails for after you land. Eight ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air is recommended. Also avoid all sugary beverages, and sugar in general, which will just spike your blood sugar level causing you to feel even groggier later.

 Tip #2 – Don’t hibernate.                  

Your body responds to natural sunlight.  The more time you spend outside basking in the sun the easier it will be for you to adjust to the new time zone.  Also make sure to eat all meals at the local time starting immediately upon arrival. Set your watch when you’re on the plane to the local
time as well. The faster you trick your mind and body to adjust, the happier you’ll be.

Tip #3 – Stay awake once you arrive in your destination.

One of the best ways to trump jet lag is to just stay awake. Sometimes that’s easier said than done so make sure you have interesting ways to stay productive once you arrive at your destination. Avoid strenuous activities but explore the local village, visit a museum, or take a walk on the beach to keep your mind engaged and your body moving. Try not to go to bed until it’s really the local bedtime. Avoid naps if possible as they’re terribly
difficult to wake up from and will further interfere with your body adjusting to your new time zone.

Tip #4 – Reduce caffeine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be tempted to turn to caffeine to get you through your sluggish moments. While caffeine may provide you with a jolt of stimulation, it will make it harder for you to sleep deeply when it’s really time for bed. You’ll need quality sleep to fight the jet lag so don’t let caffeine get the best of you. Caffeine also dehydrates your body which will only add to your jet lag woes. You should keep caffeine to a minimum during the days leading up to and during your trip.

Tip #5 – Don’t take sleeping pills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching for sleeping pills to help with jet lag may cause more trouble than they’re worth.  If you aren’t already taking sleeping pills, do not turn to them for the first time during a flight as you don’t know how your body will react. Even if you are accustomed to taking them, they still may not be your best bet. After waking up from a pill induced sleep you often feel very groggy, which is not the right way to kick off a trip in a different time zone. If you’re worried about not being able to sleep on your flight, bring something to use as a pillow, an eye-mask, and ear plugs. If you follow the other tips in this article, you should be sleeping soundly in your destination country in no time.

Tip #6 – All Natural Jet Lag Remedies                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

No-Jet-Lag: No-Jet-Lag is a homeopathic remedy (vegan and not tested on animals) that has been known to be very helpful in preventing jet lag. It’s even used by major athletes to help them perform at their optimum physical levels upon arrival to their destinations. It has no reported side effects due to it’s low doses of these all natural ingredients: Leopard’s Bane, Daisy, Wild Chamomile, Ipecac and Clubmoss. It’s ecommended
that you chew one tablet each time your plane takes off and each time it lands, even if you are not disembarking, to counter the effects of pressure changes. Also take one every two hours while flying to counter the effects of long flights. It is best taken separately from meals. To find stores that carry this product or to order online, click here.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a common jet lag cure but it should only be used in very small doses (0.5 mg) and for a very short amount of time (just 2 or 3 nights). Melatonin is a chemical produced by your brain at night to make you sleepy. Your brain’s production of melatonin gets thrown out of wack when you travel. Taking sparing doses before bedtime after you arrive at your destination can help your body adjust. If you take larger doses or take it for an extended period of time you may suffer from side effects such as vivid dreams and nightmares. Melatonin can be found at most health stores.

Tip #7 – Going ninja on jet lag…

The final tip, for the hard core traveling pros, is to start combating jet lag several days before you leave for your trip by slowly adjusting your sleeping and eating times to match the schedule of your destination country. This may not be feasible due to your work or family schedule but if you can do it, even just to a minor extent, it will give your body’s internal clock a kick-start.

Beating jet lag is not easy but you can do it!  By following the above tips, you’ll be energized and ready to start exploring your new locale in no time. Happy traveling!

Author BIO:
Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Your Time Travels offers voluntourism trips with animal welfare projects and African safaris. To learn more visit www.yourtimetravels.com.

 

Building a playground for children in Haiti

Here is a story by Andrew Martin of his volunteer work with an amazing Christian non-profit organization called Kids Around the World. Kids Around the World helps children and families who have been affected by war, poverty, illness, and natural disasters. They provide nutritious meals, teach bible studies to education workers, and build playgrounds for the children to ensure their physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive development. They give children the opportunity to “just be kids” instead of victims of the unfortunate circumstances they’re faced with. I’ve personally had the honor of volunteering with this organization locally and it was an experience I’ll always cherish. Andrew’s volunteer work took place in Haiti. Please enjoy this inspirational story of his volunteer work abroad for the children of Haiti. This is the perfect example of how volunteering abroad can change lives not just today, but for years to come.

“This is life-changing!” reflected one of the volunteers after this morning’s playground dedication ceremony in Bonneau, Haiti.

That’s exactly how we all felt. Building a playground for the children of Haiti was not only life changing for them, but for us as well. But, let’s back up briefly, as the day before the dedication we met with some unexpected challenges!

All that was left to do the day before the dedication ceremony was to finish pouring concrete where needed, building the wheel-chair ramp, and carrying over sand to cover the playground surface.

Sounds simple enough right? Well, first try to imagine the scene.

You pull up to the side of a dirt and rocky road and look down, about 60 feet below and 100 yards out. That’s where the playground will be located. The only way to get there is down a steep dirt path past one leveled out area (that was dug out by hand) for the church that will be built there soon. You then continue further down the hill to the bottom where you encounter at least 15 large sand piles spread out over half of a football field. Only then do you finally get to the playground.

Still, things didn’t seem too bad. There were a number of sand piles within about 30 feet of the playground and we had two wheelbarrows and several buckets. We’d simply carry that sand over to cover the playground’s surface.

However, as we began filling the wheelbarrows with the nearby sand, we were quickly stopped by the local villagers. They explained that the only sand we could use was the sand from the pile that was the furthest away from the playground, about 50 yards away!

Well that wasn’t going to stop our progress. So for most of the day we carried bucket after bucket back and forth until the whole surface was covered by about 2:30 PM.

During this time, others in our team continued their Vacation Bible School with the large group of children that showed up every day. Today, they heard the lesson about Jesus welcoming the children and were told how our Lord welcomes each of them if they will only come to Him in faith.

After a group prayer the children went back to playing games and filling the air with laughter. They even taught us the Haitian version of the hot potato – instead of passing the “hot potato” each child slapped the palm of the child to their left as they sat in a circle singing a local children’s song. We were laughing right along with them as one by one another child was eliminated and those who remained celebrated their little victory.
We returned to the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM) campus exhausted but so excited because tomorrow was dedication day!

After breakfast we helped get the special needs children from the Miriam Center onto the truck for the trip out to the playground. They each sat on the lap of a team member and laughed their way to Bonneau as the wind blew in their faces and they bounced up with each bump in the road. It was a great preparation for the joy they were about to experience.

When we arrived at the site a few of the volunteers ran down the hill ahead of the children to decorate the playground and attach the final swings. We were followed by the many children and parents from Bonneau who had become a fixture at the site over the last 3 days. We saw many of the local men who worked side by side with us to help build the playground. We were proud to now call them friends.

The dedication ceremony began with a speech by Shannon Neel, whose Kimmy’s House Foundation (named after her daughter) had funded the playground in honor of her late father. She beautifully described the love that brought this playground to Bonneau and its children. I then said a few words and Shannon’s brother, Brandon Kirby, finished with a prayer for the children.

It was finally time to cut the ribbon! Shannon, assisted by her brother and son, had the honors.

Our team then helped the Miriam Center’s special needs children into the playground first as the other local children waited patiently (as patiently as they could!). Once each of the special needs children were able to slide down their chosen slide at least once the local children were “freed” to have at it.

We instructed the team members to guard the Miriam kids and make sure they weren’t trampled on by the local kids. We never expected one of the mothers to pose the biggest threat! She had been watching the children on the swings while the others stood in an orderly line awaiting their turn. But as soon as one boy got off the swing this mom came running in, pushed the next boy out the way, and jumped on the swing! The other adults started laughing until about 5 swings in when she leaned too far back and slid almost completely off the swing! The nearby adults caught her just before she fell into the sand. Everyone was laughing hysterically, including her. I guess a playground can turn adults into kids too!

We all continued watching, smiling and laughing, snapping photo after photo, and wiping tears. The pain of sore muscles and sunburned skin vanished with the joy of seeing the children playing with endless energy and laughter. We had such a sense of accomplishment and pride. I must say – job well done team!!

 

Thank you Kimmy’s House and NWHCM for allowing us to partner with you. And thanks to our team for being such an instrumental part of this wonderful project. Your hard work will allow these and many future generations of children to do what they do best – just be kids!

Quick Tips for a Successful Volunteer Abroad Experience

Last week’s post explained why voluntourism is such an amazing way of traveling so this week I’d like to follow up with some tips on how to get the most out of your volunteer abroad experience.

Let me start by telling you exactly what to expect – expect absolutely NOTHING. The worst thing you can do is go into a volunteer abroad experience with a ton of preconceived ideas and expectations because chances are it’s going to be nothing like what you expected. While you may have an interest in “volunteering abroad” for a particular cause, what that really means is that you want to step into an organization in a different culture that has a unique set of subjects they are trying to help, a unique set of employees and volunteers, and a unique set of rules, values, priorities and issues. No matter how much research you do you won’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you get there. So be extremely excited for the brand new out-of-your-world experience that you are about to embark upon but go in with an open mind and a clean palate because no volunteer experiences are the same.

Below are some tips to help you get the most out of your experience. This list could obviously go on and on but these are the things I would not have fully understood if I hadn’t experienced them first-hand throughout my journeys. If you have any other tips please leave them in the comments below!

1. Embrace the experience & ignore the inconveniences. Volunteering in a foreign country is a once in a lifetime experience (even if you do it more than once!). Ignore the inconveniences that you would never put up with at home. For example, if the shower only runs freezing cold water with no pressure from a faucet located only 2 feet above the ground, that’s okay, you’re not there for a spa. You’ll be back home to your jet streams in no time so don’t let these little discomforts affect what you’re there to accomplish.

2. Stay away from negative people. You’ll likely be surrounded by a positive group of volunteers who love every minute of what they’re doing. However, every now and then someone comes along who hates absolutely everything and has no problem contaminating your experience with their negativity. Whether you want it to or not, their negativity will creep into your mind and affect how you view everything going forward. While they may have good reasons for their opinions, you should have the chance to make your own assessments. So, to the extent you can, stay away from these people. Be the positive person you would want everyone else to be. Positivity is contagious, let it shine through you.

3. Talk to the organization’s directors/volunteer leaders as much as you can. You are there to learn and the people working there are a wealth of knowledge and stories. If it’s a big organization and there are a lot of other volunteers it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Don’t let that happen, seek them out and spend time with them. They will appreciate your curiosity and you will have a richer experience for it.

4. Bond. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can bond with people through volunteer work. You’ll finally be rid of email, facebook, twitter and all of the other daily gizmos and gadgets that distract you from fully engaging in conversation. The unique experiences you’ll face when you’re volunteering can turn strangers into fast friends. I still keep in touch with people from almost every volunteer trip I’ve been on. These friendships make the experience all the more enriching.

5. Don’t be shocked if things aren’t run exactly as you’d like. I admit, I’ve struggled with this periodically. I’ve been to organizations that fall into all areas of the spectrum; from those that are extremely well run and organized, providing the ultimate volunteer experience, to those that are not so well run. I spent many years working in a corporate law firm, which was a well oiled machine built for optimal efficiency, so I may have been particularly susceptible to falling into an overly critical mindset. I would hate to be someone who marches in telling people how to run things better after being there for only a few days so I’ve found it’s best to wait for an organization to ask for feedback. If they ask for it it shows that they care about continually improving, as every company should. Just as with everything in life, no organization is perfect, and the smaller ones who need the most help are often the ones who could benefit from some changes. I believe in supporting these organizations (provided that they are legitimate) just as much as the larger ones who’ve got it all figured out. The more help they get, the more effective and efficient they can become.

6. Follow the volunteer organization’s rules. While some rules may seem arbitrary and unreasonable to you (i.e., no drinking on the premises), those rules are there for a reason, placed after years of trial and error that you were not a part of. You are only there for a short time, don’t try to rock the boat and be a rebel.

7. Remember that you are not there to save the world. You will likely learn and gain more from your volunteer experience than you give. You are there to help out, to learn and to then spread awareness – that is the beauty of volunteer work.

 

What is Voluntourism Really About? & 5 Reasons Why It’s Better than Just Sitting on a Beach All Day

This week I would like to introduce you to guest blogger Liz Longacre, a colleague of mine who shares some of the same passion for travel that includes volunteer opportunities. She shares some of her inspiring experiences so you can see how voluntourism can help you gain more than you give.

Let’s start with the definition of “voluntourism”. Voluntourism is exactly what is sounds like, volunteering while engaging in traditional tourism activities when you travel. While that sounds so simple it’s really about so much more. It’s about cultural immersion, participation and exploration. It’s about meeting people from all over the world and from all walks of life and engaging in something truly unique with them that bonds you in a deep way.

When you volunteer you get to totally immerse yourself in the culture by working, and even living, with the local people. You get to hear their stories and learn their history. You get to interact with other travelers from all over the world. You get to choose a cause you care about and then participate in it in a unique and amazing way. While you may have to do some hard work, it’s not sitting in a cubicle watching the clock tick kind of work. It’s exhilarating and unique and challenging and it’s for the benefit of those who need it most. By adding tourism activities you get to explore the country and just have fun, because you work hard and you deserve some fun!! It’s the absolute best way to get the most out of a country and out of a vacation in a short amount of time.
So if you haven’t given voluntourism a try yet, here are 5 reasons why you don’t want to miss out!!

1. Cultural Immersion. The days of traveling to another country merely to sit at a hotel resort sipping mai tai’s and baking in the sun all day every day are somewhat over. From terrorist attacks, to tsunamis, to earth quakes, to economic collapses, to social media, our world has become smaller and smaller. We now want to engage more, learn more and interact more. Spending a ton of money to fly to a foreign country and never leave your resort now seems frivolous. Through voluntourism holidays you can still get your beach and mai tai time in, but you get so much more. There is no better and faster way to immerse yourself in a culture than to work side by side with it’s people for a cause you share together.

2. Dissolve Stereotypes. It comes as no surprise that people everywhere have stereotypes. Stereotypes of Americans are not always flattering. Prove people wrong. When you volunteer abroad you get to spend a lot of quality time with local people. You can show them what being an American is all about. Be helpful, gracious, courteous, respectful and eager to listen and learn. Slowly but surely you will influence people’s image of not only you but the culture you represent.

3. Knowledge is Contagious. The more you learn on your travels, the more eager you’ll be to continue that learning process when you get home and to educate others about what you’ve learned. My first volunteer abroad experience was in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary. At the time I didn’t know just how harmful it was to go on elephant rides or to watch elephants paint a picture. My instincts told me it wasn’t good, but I didn’t know just how devastating a life those elephants live to provide entertainment for tourists. My point is, I learned from the people working at that sanctuary and I came home and I shared that knowledge. In doing so I affected what other people participate in when they travel and that shared knowledge became invaluable.

4. It’s Good for Your Health. Volunteering has been shown to help decrease rates of depression, increase your functional ability and reduce your chances of getting heart disease! We’ve all had bouts of depression where it feels like your life is a mess, nothing’s going your way and the future looks bleak. There is nothing better at getting you out of your own head, than helping others, whether they be animals or people or the environment. You may think you have it bad but I guarantee you others have it far worse and they could use your help. In helping them, you gain a little perspective that goes a long way.

5. It May Change Your Life. It certainly changed mine.
So whatever your interests may be, if you want to get a little more out of life and out of your vacation, consider including some volunteer work in your travels. You will gain way more than you give.

Author BIO:
Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Your Time Travels offers voluntourism trips with animal welfare projects and African safaris. To learn more visit www.yourtimetravels.com.


How Volunteer Work Abroad Gave Me the Experience of a Lifetime

Do you ever think about how much we often take for granted? Warm running water, a roof over our heads, food, new clothing, access to medical care, our physical abilities? I know I often overlook these things.

I had a reality check when I decided to volunteer in Ghana, Africa, with the NGO Unite for Sight (UFS). I had wanted to visit Africa for years because that’s where my parents were from but I didn’t just want any ordinary trip. I wanted to really immerse myself in the country and get to know the people and their culture, so I decided to volunteer.

I was nervous before leaving, I had no idea what to expect. But when I got there, I found the people to be so kind, honest and welcoming that my nerves quickly subsided. The people had such a contagious sense of pride and joy in their country that I felt like I belonged there.
I volunteered with UFS for three weeks. We spent most of our time going from village to village providing free eye care to the local people. We typically saw 150 to 200 patients per day (sometimes double that amount).

Ironically most of the patients we saw had perfect vision. What they suffered from were infections, such as bacterial conjunctivitis, as a result of the environment they lived in, their lifestyle, and their lack of access to medical care.
Every day we received at least 5 to 10 cataract/pterygium patients who would require surgery. We took down their names, the village they were from, and their chiefs’ names and scheduled one day per week to perform all surgeries. We typically ended up with 60 to 100 surgeries – all to be performed in one day.

It’s hard to describe the speed and efficiency we needed to work at in order to keep up with that many surgeries. When you’re working under that much pressure you don’t really have time to grasp how amazing it is to give people their sight back. But when we would come back a couple of days later to do post-ops and our patients would be crying with joy and gratitude because they could see their families’ faces for the first time in years, that’s when the magnitude of this work would hit us. It was quite literally, the BEST feeling ever.

One of our patients, a 78 year old grandfather, had lost his sight over 50 years ago. Because he couldn’t see, he couldn’t work and his family suffered for it. His wife found some work but it was often not enough to afford food and clothing for the entire family. To help support the family, his son started working at the age of ten instead of attending school. His eye condition not only cost him his vision, in many ways it cost his family parts of their future.
Moments like these made me realize how easily we take the privilege of sight, among other things, for granted. In America, we have so many resources at our fingertips. A ten year old boy would never have to sacrifice his education in order to start working.
One of my most memorable experiences in Ghana was when we visited Langa Primary School. We volunteered all day with the children there, who were so full of energy and joy. After classes were over we gathered with the children in the center of the school yard for some fun. The children taught us their games and traditional dances and we ran around with them as if we were children ourselves. It was so amazing to fully immerse ourselves in their childhood activities.

I’m so grateful that I decided to volunteer in Ghana. I was so blown away not only by the kindness of the people but by their strength. It seemed that regardless of what they were struggling through they always seemed to see the bright side of life. They always believed in a higher power and they never gave up hope.
I may have helped the local people with their medical eye treatments but they gave me so much more in return. They taught me to appreciate the things I take for granted, to be more selfless and help others in need whenever I can, to always have a positive attitude, and to truly understand what it means to be strong.

The next time I travel abroad, I hope to find a volunteer experience that’s as amazing as this one was!

Poonam Nathu

Day 2-Vancouver, BC

We were really excited that it wasn’t going to rain today and we could spend the day going up to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. We took the free shuttle (as long as you have purchased the Gondola ticket) from Canada Place to the base of Grouse Mountain where you board the Gondola. It takes you up over 3000 ft in just 8 minutes. Once you get up to the top, you can enjoy many activities such as a Lumbar Jack show which was entertaining. They also have a birds show, 2 movies, the grizzly bear habitat, the wind turbine, a zip line, paragliding, and a wolf exhibit.

We then took the shuttle down the hill to the Capillano Suspension bridge. It was very exciting and educational for the kids. They participated in a fun scavenger hunt going around identifying weather patterns, different types of trees and their characteristics, looking for forest animals and learning about their natural habitats, and comparing their own wing span to common birds that live in the forest. The Cliffwalk with it’s high, narraw, and partial glass bottom walkway was a thrilling experience although it could be a bit scary for those afraid of heights.

After our full day of exploring the tourist activities of Vancouver, we took the bus to the ferry terminal, the ferry (SEABus) across to the waterfront and then walked to a nearby restaurant called Nuba for some amazing Lebanese food. The restaurant was recommended by our concierge at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Just outside our hotel,  we stopped for dessert and had some of the best Gelato in Vancouver at Bella Gelateria.

Visiting Seattle and Vancouver, BC

I’m not sure how many of you have made last minute plans for a quick getaway or vacation, but my family made some very last minute plans to visit a cousin in Seattle and while we are doing that, why not drive upto Vancouver, British Columbia.

So, here we are. We flew into Seattle yesterday evening. Left for Vancouver this morning which was a quick and easy 3 hour drive. We checked into our beautiful hotel on the waterfront, The Fairmont Pacific Rim. Asked the concierge for some sightseeing, restaurant and most importantly some volunteer or service project recommendations. Since we didn’t have the opportunity to pre-plan the volunteer project, let’s see if it works out.

We already tried to contact the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society but they didn’t have any projects for us. Our Concierge also tried to see if we could volunteer with the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, but no luck there either. We will continue trying.

In the meantime, we plan to have fun in Vancouver. This is our first visit to this lush and beautiful city, and we’ve already had a fabulous first day. We spent some time walking around the waterfront, but the highlight of the day was a Seaplane ride for a half hour city tour giving us a birds eye view of Vancouver and what a sight it was!!


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Day 7- Final Day in Cusco

We were up bright and early today for our final service project day. We were only going to be at the Albergue for half a day so that we would have the afternoon to experience the sights of Cusco, do any last minute souvenir shopping and pack since we have an early morning flight back home.
The team was anxious to make more progress today even though we knew the work would have to be continued and finished by future volunteers. It was satisfying to see the structure coming up, especially the log fence which we managed to get up and even paint a few pictures on. The younger volunteers really enjoyed the painting. It gave them an opportunity to leave a personal mark on their hard work and made the fence more fun for the kids at the Albergue.

We enjoyed another healthy lunch before saying goodbye to all. We headed back to the hotel, showered up and hit the cobblestone streets and main square in Cusco. We really enjoyed the walk, the sights, the shopping, and couldn’t decide where to grab dinner. One of the most beautiful sights was the church at the hotel Monastario. The carvings were so intricate and the colors so vibrant.
Supporting a local street vendor

Our trip to Peru was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed all the sights. Machu Picchu was definitely a highlight, but all the service projects we worked on throughout the week were just as enjoyable, fulfilling and really gave us an opportunity to interact with the local Peruvian people. They are very friendly, grateful and welcoming. I would definitely recommend Peru as a vacation destination with an opportunity to give back….


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Day 6- Service Project at Albergue in Cusco

We left the Sacred Valley this morning for our final two days of service projects in Cusco. We arrived at the Albergue, a home for 22 children between the ages of 10-18. Most of them have parents who live on farms and in villages that don’t have access to schools, nor can they afford them, so they apply for their children to live at the Albergue and hope to get lucky. Most of the children have been sponsored to live here and go to school for at least 5 years. Some are fortunate enough to be educated for up to 7 years. When they leave the Albergue, they have a basic education and they have acquired some skills in carpentry, sewing, metalwork, cooking, and some basic life skills. Some of them will go on to become educators in their villages so that they can help their own communities.

Upon arrival at the Albergue, our teams were pumped and ready to work. We split into two teams. One group started building the Adobe brick walls of a future classroom and the other group started sanding pre-cut logs for a fence. It was a hot day, so we had to take several water and Gatorade breaks. They also prepared a tasty vegetarian lunch for us. It was a lot of heavy lifting, muddy, dusty and tiring work, but very gratifying when we were done for the day. We could see progress and were ready to continue working the next day.

But before we left the Albergue for the day, the kids treated us to a surprise talent show showcasing their traditional song and dance. They even managed to get some of us to get up and participate with them. After the performance they all came around and gave us hugs and thanked us for our time and effort with beautiful cards. Seeing their beautiful smiles made the day’s hard work all worthwhile.


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