It is now approximately 3 months that I am back from Peru and I cannot even count ahow many times I´ve been asked: “So, how did you like Peru?”. Located within 3 different landscapes the country is 3,598351476056086 times bigger than Germany. According to Wikipedia and my calculator. It not only inhabits the spring of the Amazonas, but also the world’s biggest diversity of birds (fascinating, isn´t it?), the 2nd biggest mountain measured from geocenter and such cultural peanuts like Machu Picchu.
But since I decided against backpacking and opted for volunteering at FairMail in Huanchaco, the overall time left for the typical itineraries was indeed very small. Hence my experiences in this regard were limited to the culinary questionable pleasure of gnawing on a meager guinea pig and the literally breathtaking challenge of the Laguna 69 trail.
Huanchaco itself has a surprisingly big offer in possibilities for volunteering. No matter if you yearn to help humans, nature or animals, there is something for every taste. NAFE Peru for instance has committed itself to teaching, caring and providing meals for the poorer kids in Huanchaco. Esperanza Canina on the other hand is engaged with rescuing and fostering of Huanchacos countless street dogs. Of course there are many other organizations than just these two and if you´re interested, you can get a nearly complete overview here.
However last year, when searching for a project to work with, neither Peru nor Huanchaco or Fairmail had been in my focus. Actually my roommate discovered the project by coincidence. While looking for a volunteering opportunity herself, one day in October she sent me an email with the link and the simple sentence: “Could be interesting for you, couldn´t it?” So I sent in my application without really knowing what to expect. A gut reaction while lacking any knowledge in Spanish.
To enhance my spanish to an acceptable level, I took lessons at an adult education centre, had private tutoring with the amazing and absolutely recommendable Jennifer, tried Skype based E-Learning with a very flirtatious Ecuadorian and last but not least finished a 4-weeks crash course at Academía Suarez. So, when boarding the flight to Lima I knew basic vocabulary and had the promise of all my teachers that Peruvians would be talking very slow. By the way as big as a lie as the promise that it would never snow in Cologne (It´s my 8th year in Cologne now and it snowed Every. Fucking. Single. Time.) Anyway, back to the topic. As a matter of fact in the beginning, apart from “Buenos Días “ and “Gracias”, I basically understood nothing. My first lesson at FairMail (I described here what FairMail does) proved to be difficult accordingly. Still, communicating with hands and feet, Paul and I managed to produce some quite acceptable pictures of a water droplet. The ones from the second lesson even were fantastic. Paul is the most persistent little amateur photographer that has ever crossed my lens. Headfirst he climbs into the next rose bush to get the perfect picture.
But FairMail is so much more than just one of the uncountable projects worldwide supporting young people to get out of poverty. FairMail is family, FairMail is mentor, FairMail is friendship and companion for all the kids that are lucky to participate. But not only for them but also to all those volunteers taking part.
Mara and I not only had fun but learned all the more.
Within these 2 months I wound down a little, learned a lot about which values are important to me and oif course met a lot of amazing people.
For example the strong and mature Anidela, honest, outspoken, working with all her heart.
Or Dante, as obsessed with football as Paul is, very quiet though but therefore an even better observer.
Diana is unbelievable generous, ready to help, and very well organized. Even with 35 I am not as well prepaired as she is. I am not even close.
Bryan however is a typically teenager, confident, sometimes almost a little cocky and a very talented photographer. Just like Gabriel. With his passion and creativity he will make a great photographer one day. Kzanier is, like all the boys, very interested in technology. With him I spoke a lot about my new camera. At least insofar possible with my rudimentary Spanish. He also is a dreamer and whilst he is always ready to help others, he tends to forget his own work from time to time.
Angelica is a fighter, sporty and impressively good at soccer. Her creativity in photography is just the same.
Medalit was very quiet in the beginning, just like Dante but I think she has a rare inner strength that can take her anywhere if she finds it. In these 2 months her pictures got better the stronger her positive attitude grew.
And last but not least Angeles. It is amazing how grown-up she is. Always there for others she has the best creative tips and advices for everyone.
So time just flew by and I would like to thank Janneke, Mariaflor, Betty and Peter for this beautiful opportunity. Not only are they great people but they also manage a project that should receive so much more attention. I´d appreciate if you could help sharing and promoting this project on all social media channels possible. Buy postcards, tell your boss to use FairMail for Christmas greeting cards, apply as a volunteer or take a photography travel trip with the kids.