Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Manu Learning Centre

The Manu region of Peru, around the Madre de Dios River, is a truly stunning area of the rainforest. I’ve been blessed to be in  this general region twice, and it is other-worldly…as you hike through more shades of green than the Crayola inventors ever dreamed, you expect a dinosaur to round the bend any minute. It is truly nature at its finest.

The Manu Learning Centre is within the Manu Biosphere Reserve and strives to bring economic, social, and environmental harmony to the rainforest. There is such abundance here of flora and fauna, and like so much of the rainforest, so much remains undiscovered…and simultaneously, species become extinct EVERY DAY. Indigenous cultures and traditions are almost as threatened as the biodiversity.

Volunteers work 2-week to 12-week programs in conservation and education, starting with your own in-depth learning program in everything from mapping and giving education presentations to jungle exploration and even special studies into night monkeys.

I wonder if I can do a correspondence course in “Night Monkey”?

You should go, volunteer, do the training, and let me know. It is an incredible opportunity…just waiting for you.

Language Immersion/Volunteer Immersion

It’s easy to learn a foreign language when we’re young, our minds not yet shut down and expectant of a proscribed array of experiences. Children absorb new things like sponges. Get a few years on us, and it goes downhill rapidly. We get frustrated, too busy to study or practice, and then we can’t really parlez vous anything.

Immersion language programs are incredibly helpful. If you have time to go on a learning vacation and join an immersion language school, you are guaranteed to progress much further and more quickly than repeating tenses and verb cases at a night school community college class. Using the language as the tool it is for native speakers makes it functional.

ECELA is a South America-based language immersion program, and for it’s students learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, there is an upcoming opportunity unlike most you’ll find out there. For students in the medical fields or interested in becoming health care professionals, in addition to the immersion language work, you can also participate as a hands-on volunteer in a Health Fair, providing important medical services to local communities.

This program helps you as a student and will send you home able to converse with Spanish-speaking patients in emergency rooms, maternity wards, and EMT/ambulance work…and the local Argentinean community that is under-served and in need will be getting proper medical care and advice. The roving Health Fair is organized with local community centers in under-resourced barrios, moving week-to-week. There is free medical attention provided as well as education and screenings for diabetes, skin cancer, glaucoma, etc.

You’ll be learning Spanish in the mornings in the upscale Recoleta district, and making a difference for locals in low-income areas in the afternoons. The programs run in June and July, and in 2011, plans are to expand programs to Chile and Peru. You’ll come home form this vacation with e heck of a lot more than souvenir t-shirts and photos.

Peru Disaster Relief

Projects Abroad, a volunteer vacation company with service travel opportunities around the world, is redoubling its efforts in encouraging us to get to the Sacred Valley of Peru to try and help with disaster relief. The area around Machu Picchu and the valley were devastated by storms and mudslides that destroyed entire hillsides of crops and and decimated the homes of 22,000 people. The train to Machu Picchu, the nation’s most well-known visitor’s attraction, is still not running after the January flood, and the enormous task of rebuilding has begun.

Projects Abroad is continuing its Peru projects for volunteer travelers, with focus on education, care projects, and youth sports projects, but is now also asking specifically for motivated professional volunteers with experience in the fields of civil or agricultural engineering, geology, architecture, psychology, IT, and the aftermath of natural disasters. Volunteers who speak Spanish will be especially helpful with the psychological support work.

I’ve visited the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu twice, and it is a wonderful region of the country with amazing mountains, beautiful hospitality, and the Inca Trail for some breathtaking (literally, as it is at elevation where the air is thinner) hiking. Many people live in modest home structures of mud brick or cinderblock with dirt floors, so since the river washed so many away, the actual building materials are no longer available. Lots of sweat equity will go into rebuilding the communities, perhaps with your help? Haiti is not yet ready for an influx of volunteer help, and Chile post-earthquake is moving forward nicely with recovery. Here is a chance to help out post-disaster, in a way that allows you to drop to sleep weary of body but inspired of spirit, knowing what you’ve accomplished each day.

Planet-friendly Planeterra

The start of this New Year is a time for new beginnings for all of us—travel planning companies included.

Planeterra is a global provider of volunteer vacations, mixing service work in fantastic locales along with some insider exploration of the regions you visit, so your experience with the community runs both deep and wide.

2010 has new offerings, including volunteering in Sichuan, China at the world’s largest panda preserve and also visiting the Great Wall, X’ian, Beijing, and Shanghai. Or you could opt for the new family-friendly volunteer adventure pitching in at a kid-friendly organic farm in Ecuador. There are eleven new projects in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, plus previous client favorites that are still available, some as group trips and some as private arrangements. Your housing (double rooms, shared accommodation, or sometimes living with a local family), most meals, ground transportation, training and equipment, orientation, and escorted adventure exploration tours are all included, and most volunteer vacations with Planeterra average about $85 per day.

Argentina, Peru, El Salvador, Galapagos, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, South Africa—each provides a new opportunity to help in community improvement programs, education, building projects, animal and habitat conservation, trail building, and more. Planeterra’s Director, Richard G. Edwards, said that more than ever “community development, environmental and wildlife conservation projects around the world need the support of active travelers who are willing to take the time to understand what is needed and how they can help. Our programs are designed with great care, so that everyone genuinely benefits while having fun learning about each other’s cultures.”