The Gang Takes on Pisco, Peru

Written by Emily O´Brien, University of Guelph, Dedicated OGer since December 26th 2011!

After fully recovering from the grueling, yet amazingly epic trek through the Colca Canyon, us OGers were ready for our next stop in the town of Pîsco. Although we were excited to reach our next destination to begin volunteering, we first had to make it through the 14 hour bus ride. Normally this would be a piece of cake, however given that it was New Years Eve the night before, 14 hours turned into a trip that felt like a lifetime for those that celebrated as if the world was really going to end in 2012. The lack of air conditioning in the blistering heat seemed more like being trapped in a tanning bed with fifty strangers rather than a relaxing scenic drive through the desert, but after enjoying a hearty chicken lunch at about 10am (the driver must of been hungry at this time so that was when we stopped), we were ready to take on some wicked volunteer projects in Pisco.
Arriving at approximately 10 pm at Pisco Sin Fronteras(an NGO dedicated to helping families recover from the devastating earthquake in 2007) we settled in the ¨Penthouse¨, a room with about 10 bunkbeds. Just our style! Content with the fact we were all in the same room, we headed out for some dinner and then headed to bed for a much needed snooze.

Our first few days at PSF have been quite productive. Not only have we met a great new bunch of people, but also we were able to cater to our own specific interests by having the ability to choose what projects we wanted to participate in. These projects included playground construction, interacting with children at daycare, house and outhouse construction, carpentry (making the parts FOR the house building), and ground levelling, to name a few. Me being the eager one who can never stay in one spot at one time for too long, decided that I wanted to try ALL the projects possible.
Day One‐I worked with Scott and two German ladies putting panels on a house for a family of six‐ something I had never done before! We spent the day using drills, hammers, clamps, and screwdrivers, and even began the construction of the roof which included a homemade skylight made out of a plastic water bottle. Pretty sweet stuff! The family was more than appreciative, and since my first day the progress on the house has been phenomenal.
Day Two‐Beach day! Feeling rather full of energy this day, I jumped at the project which a) As our project leader described in the morning meeting involved ¨digging digging and more digging¨, and b) was on the beach! Nothing better than building a playground for the cutest group of kids while at the same time getting ten years worth of Vitamin D from a daily dose of the Peruvian Sun. I thought I put on enough sunscreen, but apparantly even 50 coats doesnt do it this close to the equator! It was all worth it though seeing how excited the children were getting knowing they would soon have their own park!
Day Three‐ I set out to yet another new destination‐with a long shirt on to ensure my disasterous sunburn from the day before didnt get worse. This day a small group of us went to start building a compost toilet for a family on the outskirts of Pisco. This was the first day of the project, so we started by using pic axes and shovels to dig the foundation. The terrain was not cooperating, but we managed to power through a metre of what was essentially rock to get our frame in. Next step comes concrete! So far it has been great, being able to participate in a wide variety of projects which all in turn will help make the community and the members within it happier.

It is really amazing how we can use such few resources to make peoples lives that much better, yet when we are at home if we dont have something that we want at that exact time it is the end of the world. This trip so far has showed me that simplicity=bliss, and I really admire these people who live with next to nothing and yet still have a smile on their face.