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Stories from Socobaya B
6th july 2022
A big part of the day in the life of a field volunteer at Intiwawa is the commute to Casa Intiwawa. Every day the volunteers will set off from Intihouse at around 12:30 and walk 15 minutes to catch the Socabaya B bus to San Isidro. The commute is around 1.5 hours door to door, which may sound like quite a lot, but it has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the day. Although it is technically the same route every day, no journey on the Socabaya B bus is the same and I feel quite grateful for this daily journey for a number of reasons…
1. We get to see a lot more of Arequipa than we normally would if we were living and working in the center - in my opinion, it definitely beats an open top bus tour of the city!
Once you spot the bus approaching, you have approximately 2 seconds to hop on, and always to the melodic tune of ‘sube suBE sUBE SUBE!!’. Then, when on the bus, you have to try your best not to fall over whilst searching for a seat - the right side single window seat is the golden ticket! Once comfortably in your seat, you’ll see the view from your window quickly change from the bustling city, where people are selling anything from chicha morada to raw meat on the road, to the countryside where a herd of cows will often block the path. Being able to enjoy the view of the peaceful countryside is something I really appreciate before a day at work. Indeed, I feel that I have learnt a lot about Arequipa and the variety of landscapes and lifestyles it can offer from my seat on the Socabaya B.
2. There are all sorts of people of different ages/backgrounds, who are on different journeys but all heading in the same direction.
One of my favorite past times whilst on the bus is people watching. For some passengers, it is easy to guess the purpose of their journey. For example, towards the end of our route there will always be children returning from school in their uniforms. For others, the guessing game becomes a bit more challenging and I have to use my imagination. However, I’m sure local passengers often wonder why six (very clearly) foreign people are on the bus to Mollebaya, so I guess the game works both ways! Regardless of the purpose of their journey, everyone on the bus is very friendly. People are always willing to give up their seat to someone who needs it more than themselves or shout ‘BAJA!’ to the bus driver if your urgent scream is clearly being ignored that day.
3. You will always have an anecdote to share about your journey to work that day.
More often than not, my anecdote is simply someone falling asleep on my shoulder (or occasionally me falling asleep on someone else’s shoulder!). However, sometimes it will be a bit more random. For example, one time a sack of vegetables was thrown at me as a woman rushed to get on the bus. People normally don’t think twice about helping each other in this situation and so, learning from the Arequipeñan hospitality, that’s what I did. Something I also always enjoy is when people hop on the bus and start busking. I personally like the people that rap on the bus and will always give them some spare change. However, something I did not enjoy was waking up to a mime pulling scary faces at me through the window. Finally, something that epitomizes the Socabaya B experience is the bus driver occasionally deciding to stop in the middle of a busy road to buy his lunch from his window from a nearby street vendor. Lomo saltado is always a priority.
And so, just like someone sleeping peacefully among the chaos of the cramped bus, I always find some peace and comfort on my daily commute on the Socabaya B. For me, it provides an invaluable snapshot of Arequipeñan life…all for the reasonable price of 1 sol (0.25 euros!)
Volunteering in the Madres Luchadoras Project
5th November 2021
It had always been my ambition to live and work abroad, to experience new places, cultures and ways of living, which led me to study languages at university. This dream was put on hold due to the global pandemic, but by May 2021 things were tentatively starting to look better with vaccinations being rolled out across the world. I decided it finally had to happen. The universe certainly agreed with me as I did a quick google search and within half an hour found the Madres Luchadoras project. This combined two great passions of mine, the empowerment of women, and textiles. I applied straight away and 5 months later, here I am.
“What is this project you’re going to work on?” you may ask, as many of my family and friends did. Well, Intiwawa has been supporting families in the Mollebaya district of Arequipa, but realized that additional financial and emotional support to the mothers of these families would be extremely beneficial to both current and future generations. They therefore started the Madres Luchadoras program, which trains the mothers in knitting and garment making, and supplies the materials, so that the “mamitas” have both a skill and a product that they can sell.
After a week of quarantine, I began working with the Mamitas. I arrived at a time when the group were finishing their training and were handing in practice products, and so I went straight in to trying to understand and organize the intake and outtake of materials and finished garments.
I also tried my best to start to get to know everyone and understand a bit more about their lives. I learned about the sacrifices these women make just to attend the sessions at Intiwawa, as well as finish the quotas of products attributed to them, as many also work long hours at other jobs as well as looking after their families.
As the weeks went on, my role also included sourcing and collecting new materials and tools in town, making an inventory of finished products which will be sold internationally and also at local markets, helping to organize and run our place at this local market (feria), keeping updated on the progress the mamitas were making and trying to keep everyone informed of day to day activities. This may seem a lot, especially considering my still sub par Spanish and unfamiliar country and culture. Luckily I have the support of Manon, the general director of Intiwawa, Luis, the president, and many of the other lovely volunteers, whose hard work and dedication to Intiwawa and the families of Mollebaya is truly awe inspiring.
As I become more integrated into the Madres Luchadoras project, I feel more and more excited about its potential and the opportunities it creates for the mamitas and Intiwawa as a whole. We are currently working on “Intiwarmi”’s (mothers of the sun) first official collection of hats, gloves and scarves that will be made from high quality 100% baby alpaca wool and which will be sold in Europe via retailers and on the Intiwawa website. We are also hoping to send some other handmade products out in time for Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled!
Other than that, living in Arequipa is great fun! The food is cheap and tasty, the people are friendly, the traffic is crazy, the buildings and landscape are beautiful and the weather is predictably variable – sweaty in the day and freezing cold as soon as the sun goes down. I’m lucky to live in Intihouse, a big historic house right in the center of the city with amazing views of the mountains from the terrace. Arequipa itself is very lively and, little by little, things are starting to reawaken after COVID. I can’t wait to explore how many more things Arequipa, and Peru, has to offer!
Each week out here is different, but every day I am learning and experiencing new and exciting things!
Many thanks to Intiwawa for having me, and many thanks to you for reading!
Intiwawa and the Reggio Emilia Methodology
16th August 2021
I still remember it clearly: it was late 2013 and early 2014 and I was in a very challenging stage in my professional training, as I was just about to complete my second year working as a full time teacher in a rural school. It was then that I met a training specialist who instilled in me much of the knowledge that I put into practice in my following years as a teacher. This specialist, Jessica Nakama, accompanied me in many strategies that I came to apply.
At the beginning of this 2021, at the height of the pandemic and health crisis due to COVID-19, and after almost 8 years, I decided to write to Jessica with the same confidence that I remember we shared so long ago. It is then that I told her about the work we were doing in Intiwawa and the need to implement new methodologies and approaches in our educational projects. Without hesitation, Jessica shared with us her knowledge and educational experience, in a proposal that would lead us to a 12 step training plan in the Reggio Emilia Methodology.
So, what does the Reggio Emilia Methodology consist of? The Reggio Emilia Methodology is a pedagogical proposal that emerged at the end of the Second World War, and whose principles are:
Having the child as the protagonist
Having the teacher as a collaborator, researcher and, above all, guide
Having the space as the third teacher
Being present with the families
The purpose of the Reggio Emilia Methodology is the involvement of families, schools and the local community.
We are currently working on arduous training with a group of volunteers in the approach of this methodology. Each of the training sessions lasts an average of 3 hours and consists of academic involvement and practical execution. We are still half way on this path towards improving our intervention, but with professional guidance from Jessica, and the active participation of volunteers, we believe that this path will be full of light of autonomy and learning.
6th May 2021
In 2017, together with various committed volunteers in Arequipa, Intiwawa went in search of ideas for a sustainable project that would allow the mothers of the children of Intiwawa to generate an alternative source of income to the physically exhausting work in brick production. We sought to use education and training to promote the mothers’ self-confidence and self-worth, which in turn would contribute to the long-term development of the community of San Isidro, Arequipa.
Initially, Intiwawa pursued the idea of creating a bakery. Thanks to the generous support from donors, we were able to fundraise €2,475 for this new project in the spring of 2018. A small, dedicated team of local volunteers quickly teamed up to carry out a comprehensive feasibility study. The study included an analysis of the local market, financial viability and projected benefits for the mothers. Contrary to our expectations, it turned out that the framework for the project was not viable and the risks were higher than initially assumed. Due to a highly saturated market for bakery products in San Isidro, the profit margins would be considerably lower than expected and would therefore generate very low salaries, making the self-sustainability of the project impossible. We would only have been able to hire two mothers to work in the bakery, for a salary that would end up being only slightly higher than brick production. In addition to this, the working hours for this type of work are not family-friendly. For all these reasons, the benefits for the mothers and the community were not as convincing as we had initially hoped. We decided to abandon the idea of the bakery project and identify alternative projects that would meet the developmental goals of IntiWawa and contribute to the mothers’ empowerment.
In the following months, we evaluated various new project ideas. In mid-2018, Intiwawa decided to create a textile project called “Madres Luchadoras”, with the idea to train the mothers in producing textiles made from alpaca wool and sell them in the local and international markets. Its aim would be not only to create a viable, alternative source of income for the mothers, but also to empower them through their active participation in the social and economic life of their community with equal rights and opportunities. Consequently, this will improve the quality of life of their children and families and contribute to promoting their identity, values and customs.
The project initially began at the end of 2018 with 10 mothers of our Intiwawa children. Supported by trainers, the mothers were first taught the basics of sewing, knitting, and weaving, before starting to make a variety of textile products. More mothers progressively joined and started to sell their products, ranging from little bags for a local organic chocolate company to pillow cases to sweaters and other clothing items. After having produced 1000 textile bags for chocolates, Intiwawa invested Betterplace funds for an in-depth training of the mothers at the beginning of 2019. Reaching the end of that year, the mothers had produced 500 clothing items, of which more than 300 items, as well as approximately 750 chocolate textile bags, have been sold, leading to a total income of up to 15,000 Soles. A whopping 50% of the initial investment had already been regained in the mothers’ products sales after only 6 months, giving us high hopes for the long-term financial self-sustainability of this project!
With the money raised in 2019, we purchased 6 weaving machines and started the first classes of training on these machines in March 2020, just a few weeks before all onsite activities were shut down due to the first COVID-19 cases in Perú and the subsequent quarantine that followed. The year 2020 has not been an easy year, especially for our mothers living in the community of Mollebaya who have had to cope with the lack of employment brought on by the pandemic. In addition, they have been faced with new and urgent needs, such as means of protection from COVID-19 (masks, disinfectant, etc.), whilst dealing with a lack of financial resources to support their families and attend to their children’s medical and new technological and educational needs. Due to the extraordinary restrictions as a result of the pandemic, we designed a 100% online training program with the objective of continuing with our mission to empower mothers and to be a point of support in the midst of the health crisis that has been affecting underprivileged families in a profound way. In addition to the textile production and leadership training, our mothers also received psychological support – for example, support in identifying various difficult situations in their homes – as well as personal finance classes, where the mothers learnt that the time and dedication they put into their weaving training has an economic value which should be recognized.
In October and November of 2020, we made an inventory of the products woven by the mothers in 2019 and exported 73 of the 259 hand-knitted pieces to Germany, selling all of these products during our Christmas campaign and generating an income of €1274! After deducting transport costs, 80% of the revenue has been paid out to the mothers and 20% will be returned and reinvested this year for our program needs. The project has evolved since its beginnings to include a stronger holistic component in our mothers’ social and economic empowerment, encompassing not only textile training but also support in other key areas – namely psychological and financial. The idea for the future of Madres Luchadoras is to progressively involve the mothers in the areas of administration and commercialization of their products. Furthermore, the program will continue supporting the women, so that they can become leaders in their communities and use the financial, productive, socio-emotional and marketable skills they have learnt to achieve their dreams and contribute to sustainable change in their communities!
26th February 2021
As we all know, the situation we are going through worldwide right now is worrying and has affected many aspects of our lives. From the beginning of the pandemic, it was a challenge to stop delivering face-to-face support for our children and adapt to virtual support. However, as an organization, we have, with great effort and commitment, been able to break the distance barrier with remote personalized support for each of our little ones.
The start of our virtual workshops for this holiday period was an additional challenge, but with the same commitment, we went ahead. The person in charge of the workshop “Botiquín Emocional”, who has been part of the team for a few months, shared with us how gratifying it is to be able to teach the children life skills and important knowledge that they can use day to day. In this workshop, her objective was to provide accessible and necessary tools for the children to be able to understand and manage their emotions, especially in this time of so much uncertainty. Another one of our workshops, “Speech”, focused on providing techniques to improve the children’s oral presentation and their ability to transmit information and ideas that serve them both academically and socially, whilst also focusing on the importance of communication. Finally, we offered two other workshops which focused on recycled art and paper craft, which have undoubtedly allowed the little ones to let their imaginations fly and create wonders with their creativity.
This new challenge has been a great learning process for us as a team, as well as for the children and their families. Despite some factors and challenging situations that are beyond our control, such as the illness of parents who couldn’t help their children, children forgetting to do or send the homework and the lack of cell phones, internet or mobile signal, we have managed to maintain contact and exchange information with our children throughout the program. Alongside this, we successfully completed the vacations program with a brilliant presentation, led by the children, of their final project for each workshop.
As volunteers, we would like to thank Intiwawa. Despite the challenging circumstances, they have allowed us to be part of such a great team, working with the children, supporting them and providing them with information, advice and help when they need it. We are proud to say that, through these activities we have helped the children adapt to this new reality, making life a little less difficult.
Karla Apaza and Maria Fernanda Portugal
17th January 2021
Going to Cusco and its surroundings isn’t only a must-see in Peru or South America, but also a super easy trip for beginners, in case you’re afraid of traveling through the continent or even traveling by yourself. You can use Cusco as a base to visit all the beautiful places around it. There are a whole bunch of travel destinations and as many ways to get there. Here are our experiences and advice from our adventure week in Cusco!
We took a night bus from Arequipa to Cusco, which is the cheapest way to go. Arriving in Cusco in the morning gave us a full day in the city. We used our time to book some tours for the following days and do some sightseeing. After the main plazas, we had a look at San Blas. San Blas is the creative and artistic sector, full of the cute little shops.
Due to the exhausting bus ride we got tired really fast and went to bed early to be ready for our first tour. One of the main reasons to go to Cusco is, of course, Machu Picchu. Many people decide on a three to five-days hiking-trip, but, as trekking isn’t completely our thing, nor did we want to pay for an expensive one-day-train-trip, we chose the three-day-Inka-jungle tour. And it was the perfect choice for us.
The first day led us to the highlands behind Ollantaytambo, where we then mountain-biked downhill for 50km, descending 3000m. Going down, the landscape changed really fast into the rainforest. Beforehand, we weren’t really aware that going to Machu Picchu would include an adventure in the jungle!
After lunch (all the meals were provided) the activities continued and we went rafting in the Rio Urubamba, which later leads to the Amazonas. It was really fun but tiring as well, so we were more than happy to collapse into our beds in Santa Teresa that night.
The adventure continued the next morning and we went to a ziplining-pacour. This consisted of six different ziplines, which flew you over or through the jungle, one suspension bridge, and a rockclimbing station. Having done all those fun things, we couldn’t avoid having to walk. We were dropped off in Hidroelectrica from where we had to follow the train tracks for 2.5 hours.
Spending the night in Aguas Calientes, the village below Machu Picchu, we were ready for the main event. We had to get up at 4:00am to arrive early enough. If you don’t want to take a bus, the way to the top consists of 1500 Inka steps. It was difficult but, as always, it was definitely worth it.
When we arrived at the peak of one of the world's wonders, it was completely covered in clouds. The guide told us that it was normal, so we waited for two more hours before the fog suddenly cleared up and the ruins were magically revealed. Although this place is really really, touristy, it is truly special. The mixture between stunning history and the beautiful landscape completely takes your breath away.
The rest of the day was rather unspectacular, we had to walk all the way back and took the bus back to Cusco. Despite the fact that we had decided that we didn’t like trekking, our step counter counted almost 30,000 steps that day!
Luckily, we could sleep in the next morning, as the tour we booked only started in the afternoon. We decided to leave out other sights in the Sacred Valley and booked a quad bike tour to the Salineras de Maras. This was the perfect activity for our adventure week and was incredibly much fun! After driving through some traditional villages and feeding some alpacas, we arrived at the salt mines. Here, there is a stream of warm water coming out of the mountain that contains three times more salt than the ocean. The Incas used this water to harvest salt by creating over 4000 little pools, where the water evaporates with the sun to leave behind salt. This place is really impressive and you can buy your loved ones some salty presents.
Coming to an end, we had one more trip highlight waiting for us: the “Montaña de siete colores”, the Rainbow Mountain! This crazy creation of mother nature can be found at over 5000m above sea level, which is why you should acclimatize in Cusco first before going to such heights. We didn’t struggle with altitude sickness at all, which was lucky, as you have to walk for 1h each way, the route getting really steep at the end. You can also choose to ride a horse up there for 80 soles. However, this work seems difficult and uncomfortable for the horses, so I do not recommend it.
The views on the way up, as well as at the summit, were priceless. Whenever the clouds disappeared for a second, they revealed a whole bunch of beautiful colors. It is not only the famous sight of the Rainbow Mountain itself, but also the panoramic view in all directions, that is so special.
Later that day, we recharged ourselves and our phones in a restaurant and took the night bus back to Arequipa. This trip is a perfect get-away as you can make it shorter or longer depending on your own preferred sights to visit.
And one last tip for your perfect trip: don’t book the tours in advance and know what they should cost. We met people on the same tour that paid four times our price. We paid 150USD for the Inka jungle and around 160 soles for the rest.
The Beauty in Southamerica’s Nature26th October 2020
Between extremes – jungle, glaciers and deserts
Volunteering with Intiwawa not only gives you the opportunity to get to know the Peruvian culture, but also allows you to explore other South American countries, either before, after or even during your stay in Arequipa. Having traveled through this wonderful continent for several months, I tried to sum up the most breathtaking places for you. Here are my personal highlights of Latinamerica’s diversity and range of vivid megacities, stunning landscapes and interesting historical landmarks.
8. Titicaca Lake
Titicaca Lake is the world’s highest navigable lake and can be found at the border between Bolivia and Peru. It contains several ancient islands. Some of these islands are “floating”, as they are simply made out of reeds. With luck, you’ll be able to discover the lake’s real beauty: when the sky is clear and the sun is shining, the water turns a deep blue color and you can see the Andes mountains in the background!
7. Volcano Villarrica
Visiting this continent you will discover countless beautiful mountains and volcanoes lining the countries. If you get the chance, you should definitely climb one of these warriors, as they shape the Andean landscape. I chose to climb Volcano Villarrica, an active volcano in Chile. Although it was one of the most exhausting things I had ever done in my life, it was completely worth it. The view inside the crater is absolutely stunning and you may also be able to see some magma.
6. Geyser Sol de Mañana
I visited this geyser on our Jeep Tour in Bolivia. It is over 5000m high, but that isn’t the only thing that will take your breath away. Unlike most other geysers, this one doesn’t spit water, but mud. The sound, the smell and the sight of pieces of silt jumping out of the small craters is really disgusting at first. But for some reason you’ll discover a special beauty on closer inspection, as you observe the strong colors of bright blue, green and red.
5. Salar de Uyuni
I don’t know a single travel guide that would leave out this salt flat when talking about South America - and, deservedly so. Driving for hours and only seeing salt will leave you completely speechless. You won’t even meet a single tourist, the expanse of this place is simply impressive. Don’t miss out on the sunrise on the Isla Incahuasi, where you can sit between hundreds of beautiful cactuses!
4. Iguazu Falls
Although Iguazu Falls is pretty touristy, you really can’t miss it. This waterfall system, that is shared between Brazil and Argentina, is the biggest in the world, containing around 280 single waterfalls. Located in the rainforest, you’ll also be able to spot some exotic animals and plants. This visit is a unique experience: you’ll get soaked and will barely be able to talk because of the noise, as you watch the masses of water running down the edges on which you are standing.
3. The Perito Moreno Glacier
This glacier in Patagonia, southern Argentina, is one of the few glaciers left on earth that is still growing. By walking on different paths, you can either get really close to this icy monster or get an overview of the whole scenery. You can also just find yourself a spot and observe the glacier. Due to its calving, breaking ice walls that crash into the water, making incredible noise, it is almost like you are observing a living creature.
2. The Atacama Desert
The Atacama desert in the north of Chile is the world’s driest desert. Here you would need one year to fill a small cup of water with rain. Knowing this, you’ll expect a Sahara-like desert only made out of sand, but it is so much more diverse. You can find volcanoes, lagoons, geysers, valleys of rocks and, last but not least, the clearest night sky in the world. Don’t miss out on an astronomic tour, especially if you’re from the northern hemisphere - you'll discover stars and galaxies impossible to see from home.
1. Torres del Paine
At the other end of Chile you can find this impressive national park. It’s famous for its three remarkable mountain peaks: the ‘Torres’. However, these mountain peaks aren’t always visible and this park has so much more to offer. There are four different microclimates within the park, and, due to the strong wind, the weather changes crazily rapidly. Honestly, I’ve never experienced a wind like this: buses started shaking and sometimes you couldn’t even stand straight anymore. In addition to the glaciers and the cute guanacos (which belong to the family of the llamas) that can be found everywhere, the most stunning thing for me were the lakes. Made out of water from the glaciers, every lake has a different shade. But all of them are so bright and almost artificial blue, it feels like you’re part of a picture in a travel magazine that writes about ocean paradises. A must-see in Southamerica!
7th October 2020
1. The most important thing is to not be afraid! The media can create this inaccurate impression of this really dangerous continent; it is not. You simply have to follow basic rules of common sense. For example, carry your personal belongings in a fanny bag, avoid the more risky parts of the city (like everywhere else), and trust your own gut judgment!
2. Depending on where you’re from you will have to get used to a different mentality. Everything will be more relaxed and everything works slower. Try not to worry, relax and go with it! It may be good for you to leave the stressful environment at home.
3. In case you plan on traveling around, pack light and functional! You really won’t need that many clothes. Just be prepared to layer, as the weather can change really fast here.
4. Don’t book touristic tours online or in advance, it will be significantly more expensive! Just head to your destination and visit some tour operators there. Do some research on how much each tour should cost - we’ve been on tours where we’ve paid a fourth of what other people did!
5. If you haven’t already noticed, buses are the way to get around - but they work differently than at home. Basically, they stop whenever you want them to stop, there are no set bus stops. It can be confusing at times. You may find the right bus to use but not know when to get off. That’s why I’d recommend you to download an offline map (I was incredibly happy with maps.me), so that you can follow along the journey.
6. A great way to save some money is by changing what you eat, to discover local and delicious delicacies. Many restaurants have special promotions on certain days. Also, don’t shy away from food trucks or old ladies cooking in the streets. I had my best and most traditional meals eating at places like this, sometimes for not even 1€!
7. You can’t throw toilet paper into the toilet! And you should always carry some with you, as it’s not provided everywhere.
8. Get a Starling Debit Card! You can use it everywhere without having to pay fees for the card itself. Once you’ve arrived in Arequipa, there are banks that won’t charge you anything with this card!
1st September 2020
Intiwawa offers volunteering opportunities in all areas of our organization. In 2020, we were joined by Darwin Hoyos Palacios and Robinson Rúa Gómez, two Colombian interns who collaborated with us through a macro cooperation agreement with the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia. This agreement was initiated thanks to the interest of Darwin, one of the students who heard about our organization from a friend who had previously volunteered with Intiwawa through AIESEC. Darwin noticed that the mission and work of Intiwawa are particularly relevant for his university peers from the undergraduate program of Planning and Social Development. Recognising the opportunity of a partnership between the two institutions, Darwin supervised the management and selection process for Intiwawa interns from the University. Since the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia approved the mobility of the programme and provided resources for more students, Darwin and his classmates were given the opportunity to work together in Peru with Intiwawa. Here are the stories of Darwin and his classmate Robinson, and their experiences as interns for our organization!
Darwin Hoyos Palacios
Alongside his studies in Planning and Social Development, 26 year old Darwin Hoyos Palacio also works as a social and youth leader in the municipality of Entrerrios – Antioquia. That’s why he feels so close to the quotation from the journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano. Darwin first moved to Peru on the 7th of November 2019, initially moving in with other international Intiwawa volunteers for 2 months. Later, in January, Darwin decided to live and work in a hostel as a volunteer, in order to receive economic support which allowed him to extend his stay in Peru.
At Intiwawa, Darwin contributed to and collaborated on different projects in the fundraising department of the organization. He worked on the establishment of an inter-institutional cooperation project with the Katari Hotel and helped raise funds for the ‘Madres Luchadoras” project. In December, he was also the coordinator of the Intiwawa Christmas Party in San Isidro, Mollebaya and Coporaque, and also recently supported a project to take the Intiwawa children to Cineplanet.
This experience enabled Darwin to grow and develop personally and professionally, as he was pushed to extend beyond his comfort zone. By visiting the communities with which Intiwawa works, he was able to experience and understand the reality of other societies, as he learned new ideas and conclusions that he was later to apply to his learnings in Colombia. Alongside the way in which Darwin’s work boosted his self-esteem, he also learned to cook!
Darwin adapted easily to Peruvian culture and life in Arequipa, as the country shares a similar culture to that of Colombia. However, he had to learn the local slang and vocabulary, as Peruvian castilian can differ considerably to Colombian castilian. Darwin described Arequipa as a beautiful, safe, peaceful and cultural city, and also had the opportunity to visit several other places in the region of Arequipa, as well as other Peruvian cities such as Cuzco.
Darwin concluded that Intiwawa is a very well-structured organization with a high social impact, thanks to its different projects. He greatly admired the NGO’s structure and its hard working team of collaborators. Darwin built strong relationships with his fellow volunteers and learnt a lot from them. He confided that at times he found it difficult to communicate with some volunteers, since most of them come from Europe and share English as their common language, but explained that it finally helped him to improve his English skills.
Robinson Rúa Gómez
Robinson Rúa Gómez, a 27 year old Colombian student and father of a 4 year old son, previously had experience working with social development NGO Niñez. Robinson saw the internship with Intiwawa as an opportunity for personal growth, as well as academic and professional development. His peruvian adventure began on the 3rd of February 2020, and he decided to stay in a hostel where he also works as a volunteer to obtain lodging and economic support.
Robinson is currently working on generating alliances with the municipalities’ mayors to expand Intiwawa’s impact in local communities. Alongside this, he works in the planning of events and forums for the charity’s children. He also works with the Parent’s School and with groups for young people, assisting them in their search for work, whilst also empowering them to establish and fulfill their future goals, objectives and dreams. In addition, he is working on the sustainability project to obtain sponsorship for local families. As his second work experience collaborating with vulnerable communities, Robinson’s internship with Intiwawa has shown him that there is still a great amount of progress to be made in Latin America’s social development.
Robison has described Peru as a wonderful country to live in, and Arequipa as a very cultural city. His time here has allowed him to generate bonds with foreigners, to take part in a great cultural exchange and experience a new world view. One of his most special memories here has been climbing the Misti, where we felt a connection of his mind and body, as he realized that he was stronger and more resilient than he thought.
He has very high expectations for the rest of his time with Intiwawa and his adventure in Peru. Robinson believes that this will be a very enriching professional experience for his resume, thanks to the reputation of the organization. In addition, he considers that being a volunteer and working for the happiness of others, without expecting anything in return, is sincerely personally rewarding. Robinson hopes that this experience will continue to help him broaden his vision of reality, understand other social contexts and improve his language skills, as he dedicates his time to improving the lives of others.
He commends the goals and work of Intiwawa, and its kind and hardworking team. Robinson appreciates the independence that he has been given to carry out his work, make decisions and to execute his projects in the best way. He is also grateful for the excellent communication of the organization’s directors.
18th November 2019
I had never really considered Bolivia as a top travel destination, but, after hearing only good feedback from other volunteers, and having to leave the country anyway to extend our visa, we decided to spend one week there. After staying one night on Isla Amantani on Lake Titicaca, we traveled to La Paz for two nights. Next, we took another overnight bus to Uyuni to do a tour through the Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni), to see the salt desert and flamingos, and take a bath in hot springs.
Check out the video below of our trip to Bolivia!
9th February 2019
Twelve years ago, Evelyn Sanchez was one of the first children at Intiwawa. Now, 22 years old, she is a thriving University student, currently in the USA on a work placement.
How are you enjoying the United States?
It is a beautiful experience to be in the US and learn about North American culture. The weather is crazy and it changes almost every day! One day it rains, the next there’s sunshine, and then all of a sudden everything is covered in white snow!
I am a housekeeper in a resort called Nemacolin in Farmington, Pennsylvania. It is a temporary work and travel program for three months, so I will return in March.
The resort gives us food and accommodation, so that I can save all the money I earn and bring it back to Arequipa when I return. I came here with my best friend, and the two of us live in an apartment with four other girls from Peru.
Going shopping in the US is so different because there is all this ready-made food that only takes five minutes to prepare. In Peru we always have to cook everything from scratch. I do really miss Peruvian food though!
What was your life like back in San Isidro?
My mum stays at home and looks after our cafe, as well as a small shop we have. My dad works in brick production.
I started going to Intiwawa when I was 10 years old and stopped when I finished school at age 18. My brother was also in Intiwawa and he is now pursuing a technical career in Arequipa.
How did you get to where you are now?
I applied to a work and travel programme offered by Pice [a national Peruvian programme for work and study exchange]. We could choose where we wanted to work and there was the option to stay more than three months, but I have to go back and continue my studies in Arequipa. I study Administration at the UNSA [the National University of Saint Augustine] – the best uni in town!
After finishing my studies in Arequipa, my dream is to study abroad in a different country. My experience here will help if I choose to apply for a Master’s degree abroad.
Do you think that Intiwawa influenced your personal development and has helped you to get where you are now?
Yes. I definitely think so. We always talked about overcoming obstacles, how nothing is impossible, and that we can reach our goals. Intiwawa has definitely influenced my personal growth.
Leonel [the founder and current president of Intiwawa] was always a role model for me. He also had problems in his family when he was younger, but he managed to study hard and live abroad in France! It just made me think, wow – that could be me! And I always followed his travels online.
It was the most beautiful feeling for me to hear that he was proud of me! It’s because of people like him that I still feel that strong, emotional connection with Intiwawa today. I know that they are there for me and I can always talk to someone when I need support.
What did you like most about Intiwawa?
It was like having a second home. The cultural exchange was so inspiring. The international volunteers always supported us and motivated us to move forward. They showed us that we were special and different. I’m grateful to Intiwawa for also giving me the opportunity to spend time with other kids my age.
I learned so many things! I learned how to share with others and how to help others, be empathetic and care for them. I also learned a lot about different cultures through the different workshops and activities. It inspired me to know that Intiwawa volunteers study as well as travel. I have always wanted that for myself.
What do you think could improve at Intiwawa?
I can see that Intiwawa has improved greatly in its online presence. I always follow what is being posted. The website and social media pages have a lot of photos of the projects, and the organization seems to be growing internationally. All of the content is in English now.
I learned English in school, but the classes are very basic and in secondary school you just repeat what you learned in primary school, so I had to start from the beginning when I came to university.
It would be good if Intiwawa could offer optional English classes to children over 10 years old. To be able to study at university in Arequipa, it is a prerequisite to speak at least one foreign language, so I chose to do a three year English course offered by the university.
What would be your message for the current generation of children at Intiwawa?
Make the most out of your time with Intiwawa, and enjoy this stage of your life!
This interview was conducted on the 25th of January, and has been translated from a Spanish transcription.
12th December 2018
There are so many reasons why helping others makes us happy. Here are five of the most important benefits!
Helping Others Gives Us Perspective
When we help others, we gain a global perspective, one that encompasses understanding and compassion for all kinds of people. It reminds us of how big the world is and that we are all connected to one another. By gaining a greater perspective on the problems in our own lives, we are able to adapt and react accordingly, so we can spend our time and energy finding solutions for the really important issues. We’re not perfect, and sometimes the small things will still get to us, but clearer perspective can help us to stop sweating the small stuff and learn to laugh off life’s small inconveniences.
Helping Others Provides Us with a Sense of Community
When we are volunteering, we get the opportunity to connect with like-minded people that share a common commitment. This connection makes the challenges of our work lighter, as we have an instant support system where we can vent about our problems and share life experiences. It’s hard not to feel happy in a safe community full of inspiring people who try their best and look out for each other.
Helping Others Shifts Our Values
Volunteering reminds us of what we truly value in our life. Sometimes, we get so focused on material things that we think we need to be happy, we forget what really matters. By changing what we value, we’re able to create happy and sustainable lifestyles; lifestyles in which we spend time doing what we love with the people we love. Alongside this, studies show that when we help others, our mood increases and our feelings of stress and depression decrease. So, when we help others, we are not only focusing on what truly matters to us, we are living healthier and happier lives.
Helping Others Boosts Our Self-Confidence
We feel accomplished and more confident when we are able to make a difference in our community. Joining projects where everyone has something to offer and a voice to be heard makes us feel like we always have a purpose. So, even on our worst days, we still show up. Just showing up is huge! When we can’t help out in person, we can still feel good about donating whatever we can, as every little act can make a difference.
Helping Others Spreads Happiness
The feeling of watching joy spread, as a consequence of your act to help someone else, is unbeatable. Not only are we able to create happiness for someone else, it brings us joy to know that we have improved someone’s day with our hard work.
If you would like to donate to our projects, or if you would like to volunteer with us, just click on the links!
28th November 2018
Last week, a group of our volunteers headed north to Peru’s border with Ecuador, to explore the surfer’s paradise Máncora.
As you get off your bus at the terminal and begin to wander down the strip, you can immediately sense the chilled vibe of this beach paradise. Walking down the street past surfer shacks blasting reggae, the seafood restaurants serving prawn linguini and tuna steak salad, and the cool coffee bars with deck seating, you instantly feel on holiday. A short walk perpendicular from the main street is a walkway lined with beach shops and ice-cream parlors to satisfy your summer holiday retail needs. Eventually the tarmac road will fade into soft white sand and the sparkling horizon will come into view. The seafront is punctuated with restaurants, bars and hotels at your disposal. Grab a sunbed, order some food and drinks, and relax in the beautiful sunshine! For the thrill seekers, you can rent a board and head into the waves. For those after a more relaxing time, get a massage on the beach! If nature is your thing, then you can head out to sea for a whale watching tour – providing it’s the season. During the day, Máncora has an ultimate chilled vibe – perfect for reading a book or some beachfront yoga or meditation. However, once you witness the beautiful sunset over the horizon and the sky turns from blue to orange to pink, the party begins. By 6 o’clock all the restaurants on the strip are open and the choices are numerous. Sushi, Italian, Argentinian, Peruvian – the list goes on! Indulge in some incredible seafood and a cocktail or two. Then either head to one of the booming bars or simply head back to your hotel and see the night in with a relaxing read in a hammock under the stars.
Where to stay
You can either stay in a hotel/hostel on the strip or you can choose one of the many accommodations in the jungle-vibe outskirts of Máncora. This area is covered in palm trees and tropical plants. La Maison Eco Hotel is a great option, with a small pool and good breakfast.
How to get there
As Máncora is near the northernmost point of Peru, you’ll need to take two planes from Arequipa. First fly to Lima, and then from Lima to Piura or Talara. From Piura you’ll have to take a 3 hour bus to Máncora, which is 20 soles each way.
21st November 2018
Hear our volunteer Noémie’s perspective of life with Intiwawa!
Noémie, 26, French
“I studied Psychology and Management for my Masters degree at university, and currently work as the head of a group of social workers at an organization that supports people with disabilities.”
“I had various reasons for wanting to come to volunteer with Intiwawa. Firstly, I wanted to give my time to a good cause that focuses on the welfare of children. I also wanted to fully discover a new culture – something you cannot experience by merely traveling to touristy destinations. Volunteering allows you to better understand and experience a foreign culture.”
“I chose Intiwawa due to a friend recommending their great experience to me. This, in addition to Intiwawa’s social media platforms, gave me a good insight into what the organization was about, consequently encouraging me to sign up.”
“When I first arrived I found speaking Spanish in the weekly meetings and to the children rather difficult. However, after several weeks, my language began to improve quickly.”
“I love living in Arequipa because the city is so beautiful and there’s brilliant sunshine every day. Also, the cost of living is relatively low, so I am able to enjoy eating out and traveling around Peru, discovering the country.”
“I would advise future volunteers to brush up on their Spanish before coming, but not to be nervous because everyone here is very welcoming and friendly.”
31st October 2018
Last week volunteers ventured to the desert oasis of Huacachina – a truly magical paradise where you can sand-board down the dunes, relax by the pool and party the night away.
Huacachina is a traveler’s playground in the desert. After a few minutes’ driving out of the city of Ica the dunes begin to rise either side of you. Palm trees start to pop up from behind the dunes revealing the oasis. A stone walkway encircles the water enabling a civilized wander around the water’s edge. Numerous bars and restaurants are situated along the way with terraced seating allowing for food and drinks accompanied by an oasis view. As the day heads towards its hottest it’ll definitely be time for a cup of crushed ice drizzled with your choice of fruit syrups. Take it and relax on the sandbank at the water's edge where kids splash in the shallow waters and the parents lie back and enjoy the sun. To cool down head back to your chosen hotel or hostel and take a dip in the pool.
During the midafternoon it’s time for some action. Travelers start to head up the dunes to take an adrenaline fuelled sand-buggy ride. A fleet of buggies congregates at the top of the first small dune to collect willing participants for what’s described as a roller-coaster ride in the desert. Those who want a less thrilling experience can walk up the dunes armed with a sand-board. As the sun begins to set you should ditch any plans you may have and start to climb up the highest dune. As you will see, many of the inhabitants of Huacachina will slowly trudge up to then sink into the sand and watch the beautiful sunset. If you’re lucky there won’t be many clouds in the distance. As you look over the miles of undulating desert you’ll see the sun gradually disappear into the distance within a number of seconds.
Now the day is no longer, the nighttime activities begin to develop. As you descend the dune facing down towards the oasis, street lights dotted intermittently between the palm trees begin to flash on. The buggies roar as they race back from the empty desert towards Huacachina. Once dark it’s time for dinner. Choose one of the many restaurants by the oasis – the more authentic Peruvian the better. Carola Lodge houses one of the two clubs in Huacachina where you can go to continue the holiday vibes partying into the early hours.
Where to stay
For a good atmosphere and holiday resort aesthetics choose either Carola Lodgeor Banana’s Adventures Hostel. Both have a pool and lounge areas. Banana’s has a more Hawaiian beach bar vibe with hammocks and wooden shacks for rooms. Whereas Carola’s has a European slick holiday resort look. Both offer good food and drinks with a BBQ dinner in the evenings.
How to get there
From Arequipa it’s a 10-11 hour overnight coach ride from the Terminal Terrapuerto in Arequipa to Ica. Most prices average at around £20 each. From Ica you can take a 15 minute taxi ride to Huacachina for 10 soles (£2.30).
9th October 2018
In Arequipa we’re lucky to have a variety of delicious vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can’t help but try them all!
El Buda Profano $$$
Serving a delicious range of vegan sushi accompanied by concoctions of fresh fruit juices, El Buda Profano will easily become your favorite spot in town. This cozy dimly lit restaurant with an exposed brick interior has a perfect atmosphere to enjoy a quick dinner among friends. Get the set meals to share to sample the variety of sushi they have to offer whilst still ending the night with a full stomach.
La Abadia $
Probably the cheapest option on this list is La Abadia. With a cool artsy interior you wouldn’t expect to be able to pick up a full meal for the equivalent of £1.60. For example, this menu could entail a fried cheesy potato starter, vegetable tortilla with rice for main, a fruit compote desert and a drink all of a mere 7 soles. What’s more, it’s super-fast and there is the option to take it away.
Pasta Canteen $$
This extremely popular pasta bar offers a simple choice of personalized pasta dishes. Choose your pasta, sauce and toppings to form your own individual dish. Creating a quirky dining experience Pasta Canteen has shared bench seating and offers a side jar of salad – advised to be shaken before consumption. This place has modern dining down to a T.
Pippala Vegetarian Restaurant $
Pippala doesn’t deal in trendy aesthetics or inventive dishes. Go to Pippala for some Peruvian authenticity. With a plain interior and plastic chairs Pippala is the prime example of the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. This very simple veggie spot serves for those wanting some meat free munch, fast. Usually packed with people, be prepared to share your table with multiple other diners in the classic Peruvian fashion. Pippala’s menu is a simple choice of meat substitutes, stir-fry rice, salads and sandwiches.
AQP Burger Company $$
This trendy burger joint makes a killer veggie burger served with a selection of delicious sauces and thick cut fries. The ideal destination for when you just feel like being bad and indulging in some good old junk food. For the Instagram kings and queens you’ll be pleased to know AQP does simple aesthetic dining at its finest – serving the munch on wooden boards and tin trays.
Set in a quiet courtyard a stone’s throw away from the bustle of the Plaza de Armas lies Omphalos Vegetarian Restaurant and Café – serving arguably the best vegetarian and vegan dishes in town. There’s a set menu option consisting of an appetizer, quinoa soup, a choice of pasta dishes or stuffed peppers with rice for main course, a pudding and drink – all for a mere 10 soles (equivalent to around £2.40 or $3). Alternatively choose one of the many other inventive veggie plates off the menu – also at a very reasonable price. This is the perfect place for either a quick bite or a prolonged lunch in the tranquil center of the historic quarter.
Mamut’s modern sandwich bar vibe is perfect for fixing yourself some quick munch before continuing with the activities of your day in Arequipa. Although not exclusively vegetarian, this little shop on a busy street off the Plaza simply makes great sandwiches – served in crusty ciabatta rolls with a choice of 8 different dressings. To quench your thirst Mamut has an extensive list of fresh fruit juices and milkshakes.
29th August 2018
A quick look at the everyday adventures of an Intiwawa volunteer. From kicking back with a book on the roof terrace to playing games with the kids to heading out for some post-Intiwawa drinks – there is never a dull day as a voluntee
For those who deem a lie-in as a luxury can indulge in a late get-up every morning. Many volunteers ease into the day at around 10am – whipping up some breakfast in the Intihouse kitchen and taking to our stunning terrace to enjoy a coffee under the morning sun with a view of the volcanos. This is a perfect opportunity to have some ‘me time’, so grab a book or stick on some tunes, swing from a hammock and enjoy. Alternatively, for those who prefer to fill their mornings with activities, there are plenty of things to get involved in. Some volunteers rise much earlier and head to the local gym – a 10-minute walk away from Intihouse. After working up an appetite volunteers have a variety of coffee shops to choose from to grab some much-needed breakfast. Kafi Wasi on the same street as Intihouse does a set breakfast including fresh juice and coffee for a mere 10 soles. The morning is also a great time to do some shopping. Either walk to the central Mercado San Camilo or jump in a taxi to a whole district full of markets. You can grab a trolley and fill it with the freshest fruit and vegetables or many other typical Peruvian items at an insanely cheap price.
At around 1 o’clock those going to Intiwawa in San Isidro begin to make their way there. But not before grabbing some quick munch first. A 7 soles set menu from across the street tends to do the trick. Volunteers first have a 15-minute walk to the bus stop. After flagging down the correct bus they jump on, hoping to get a seat. After a 45 minute journey to the outskirts of Arequipa, volunteers squeeze through the standing passengers to land on the dusty ground under the strong heat of the sun. One more 5-minute journey lands you in San Isidro – 30 minutes early to prepare for the arrival of the kids. When the hour hits 3, the first few Intiwawa kids start to grace us with their smiling faces and high energy. In no time Intiwawa is a hive of activity with the kids grabbing their homework and heading into their classrooms. After an hour and a half of concentration, music blasts from the office – the signal that it’s time to clear up and get ready for dinner. In a matter of seconds. Intiwawa goes from near silence to an explosion of laughing, shouting and kids running to wash their hands. They line-up, gradually filter in and sit waiting for their food. After dinner, it’s time for teeth-brushing and the necessary cleaning chores. Once the kids have left, the volunteers gather in the office to have a little debrief of the afternoon before heading to the bus stop to return home.
Once back at Intihouse, depending on the day, you could be heading straight into a meeting. Monday is a meeting of all volunteers, giving everyone an opportunity to share their ideas, project updates and news with all. There’s usually a new member to introduce so the meeting usually starts with a round of introductions followed by an ice-breaker game lead by the Intiwawa scouts. After the meeting, many volunteers tend to head out for some food – pizza, burgers, sushi, the list is endless. On any other day, the volunteers have a free evening to put to good use. Which usually means indulging in one of Arequipa’s great restaurants, sometimes followed by some drinks at a bar. The night-time atmosphere in the city is so lively that it would be a shame to waste it! Alternatively, if you’re not feeling like going out you can chill out in the games room which is kitted out with table tennis, a snooker table, table football and darts. Volunteers also use the big tv to watch Netflix or a movie to end the day before retiring to bed for the night.
18th August 2018
Adapting to a new country and culture can often take an adjustment period. Whilst Arequipa may share many things with the cities and lives of our home countries, there are undeniably some bizarre and brilliant differences you are sure to encounter!
Eating guinea pigs
Whilst these fluffy little animals are kept as pets in most Western cultures, in Peru guinea pigs are a local delicacy! Peruvians enjoy “cuys” on special occasions, roasted with potatoes.
Musical garbage trucks
In Arequipa, garbage trucks don’t pass by to pick up your trash on dedicated times, but they have their own very special rhythm. You can hear them from blocks away, playing the melody from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, signaling it's time to take out your trash.
Barbecues in the street
Are you in a rush and hungry, without time to go to a restaurant? No problem in Arequipa! You can find street vendors on every corner grilling meat skewers ready to eat.
Summer all year long
Life in Arequipa is a dream for every summer lover, as here you can enjoy blue sky and sunshine all year long. Nearly every day you can expect a steady 20-25 degrees celsius, and even in the rainy season from December to February, there is sunshine!
The city of shoelaces
Did you ever urgently need new shoelaces when you were on the go? Neither did I, but apparently people in Arequipa do, as selling shoelaces seems to be a serious business here. You can get them on almost every street, in all colors, shapes and sizes.
In Arequipa, you will get to know a whole new bus culture. Even if you think the bus is full already, the driver’s assistant will not stop shouting “Sube, sube, sube!” (get in) until all the passengers have breathing troubles and you can’t count the number of people you’re touching anymore. Riding the combis here is like riding a roller coaster with high-speed turns, full breaks and jumps over bumps in the street.
Last but not least…
…dried alpaca fetus! This is probably the strangest thing you will find on your cultural expedition in Arequipa. At the San Camilo market, and probably also at other markets, you can find dried unborn alpacas that are sold as remedies against different illnesses or as an offering to Pachamama – mother nature.
27th July 2018
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Peru, due to the beautiful landscape and picturesque islands. Whilst there are countless local agencies that offer tours of the islands, if you want to avoid being scammed, escape the tourist masses and directly support the local families, you should definitely visit the islands on your own account. In the following article we will tell you how!
Have a local contact
Our friend Benita owns a beautiful house on the charming island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca. You can contact her directly (find her contact at the end of the article) to stay at her house and enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooked with fresh locally sourced products from the island. Benita will pick you up at the harbor upon arrival, and is more than happy to show you around their peaceful island. On Amantani, you can also hike up the two sacred mountains to the temples of Pachamama and Pachatata.
Take a shared boat service
Instead of taking one of the packaged tour services, go directly to Puno harbor in the morning to take a shared boat service to Amantani, leaving at 8am. Luckily, Benita’s brother works at the harbor and can assist you in getting a fair price. The boat also includes a short stop at the rather touristy but interesting Uros islands, before it arrives at midday at Amantani island. The next morning, the same boat takes you to visit the neighboring island of Taquile, where you can hike to enjoy the stunning landscapes, before you head back to Puno.
Speaking at least basic Spanish is essential to communicate with Benita over the phone and to purchase your boat ticket. Alongside this, to to authentically experience the lifestyle and culture of the island, Spanish is important to be able to exchange with Benita and her family and learn about their lives. Speaking the native language Quechua would be even better, as most elderly people like Benita’s mother Franzisca cannot speak Spanish.
Support the local community
Like most people on the island, Benita and her family live from what they grow themselves on their fields or exchange with their neighbors. Everything they can, they make by themselves: their clothes, bedsheets and furniture. Tourism is their only source of monetary income to buy all the things they cannot produce by themselves.
Contact Benita to arrange your stay, she will be delighted to receive you!
+51 951 637 361