Make a Lasting Impact: Volunteer!
Quechua Benefit was born in the heart of a relationship between two strangers: Don Julio Barreda, “a giant in the alpaca world,” and Mike Safley, a master of alpaca knowledge. Don Julio’s question, “What can you do for the children in my town?” inspired the first dental mission in 1996. Over time, the missions were expanded to include more than just dental care, and the relationships between world-wide team members and the Quechua people began to grow. You can be part of the story of change in Peru. Please let us know your interests when you fill out our online volunteer application.
The children of the Peruvian highlands captured the hearts of everyone who worked with them, so Casa Chapi was founded to provide an education for those at-risk and underprivileged students. While working with the children, it became clear that helping the them must include helping their families.
So Quechua Benefit’s mission of Breaking the Cycle of Poverty was established.
Empowering women, children and families requires education, which leads to better jobs and access to a broad marketplace. Hundreds of volunteers have made valuable contributions toward our goals since that first mission in 1996.
Today Quechua Benefit’s three pillars will change the lives of the Quechua people forever.
We believe every dollar our donors provide and every hour that a volunteer serves MUST be designed to make a lasting impact. These three pillars provide a path to Break the Cycle of Poverty:
2) Preventative Medicine
3) Economic Empowerment
At Quechua Benefit, we welcome volunteers and want to design a volunteer experience aligning your skills with our mission. Meeting the goals of our pillars and creating a volunteer experience with you is possible only when relationships are the foundation every step of the way.
Sometimes people have a mistaken understanding that mission equates to “DO-ing,” such as building, painting, fixing or engineering a project. While those things occasionally need to be done by someone with special skills, they are not the only (nor primary) need of Quechua Benefit. “BE-ing” in relationship with people who need to know they are valued for the skills and abilities they already possess makes a lasting impact on both the giver and the receiver.
We should never do for others what they can do for themselves, even if they need a little mentorship or resources to be successful in completing the task. It is our hope that the following ideas will lead you to dream of possibilities for your mission.
Education: The possibilities of being in relationship with the children at Casa Chapi in Chivay and Yanahuara are almost limitless. Here are a few ideas for short-term mission (10-29 days):
- Work alongside the teachers who are already working in the schools. Be present to assist with reading assessments, math, handcrafts, and even spending time with the students at recess. (The students love Frisbee, soccer, playing on the playground and they might even teach you a new game! Don’t forget about the change in altitude as a factor when you engage in physical activity.)
- Eat lunch while you share your culture and language with the students. Download a translation app to your phone ahead of the trip, but don’t be afraid to attempt some Spanish. They are so appreciative your efforts. They love teaching others their language and culture, and they really love learning about YOU in the process! Bring photos of your family, pets and country. (Please be respectful and don’t “show off” things like fancy cars and homes, etc.) Encourage them to pursue their dreams and dream big!
- Take the students on field trips to places that are usually only accessible to tourists. They live in the heart of Andean Condor country, but many have never seen the magnificent birds. The wonder on their faces when they see condors for the first time will take your breath away. Take the 6th graders on their first trip to Arequipa where they will go to secondary school. Watch their faces light up when they see a modern city and better yet, the MALL!
- While you are in Arequipa, take the students to a bookstore and let them choose a book for you to buy for them. Encourage the teachers to choose a book as well. Many of the children have never had a new book or a book of their own. Be prepared to spend some time on this! Give them a little reading time when you get back to the house and watch what happens!
- Remember to take your international phone charger. The students LOVE to use your phone to share their favorite music and they will also want to hear your favorites.
Long-term internships are also available at Casa Chapi for a minimum of 30 days and up to an entire school year (March–December). The teachers love to learn from you, and the students really love to teach YOU about their culture. Always be open to two-way learning, for THAT is true relationship.
Preventative Medicine: Quechua Benefit organizes multiple preventative medicine campaigns per year to further the goal of eliminating anemia in Peru. We need volunteers from the following professions to join us on our monthly missions to the highlands:
- Dentists & Hygienists
- Family violence counselors
- Spanish speakers
- Data management experts
- Occupational & Physical Therapists
Economic Empowerment: Sustainable income is the key to Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. We believe in creating relationships between people from outside the Quechua community who have knowledge and resources the Quechua people need. You can build lasting relationships by sharing your knowledge and bringing resources to the local people in areas not limited to the following:
- Animal husbandry
- Production of marketable alpaca goods
- Marketing skills and connections for promoting Peruvian products outside of Peru
- Shearing, sorting and classify alpaca fleece
- Knitting, sewing, embroidering, weaving or felting marketable products from alpaca fleece
- Assisting with construction projects for which outside materials & knowledge are needed
Domestic volunteers: If you would rather work from your home or business, there are still opportunities for you to be in relationship with Quechua Benefit. Can you help in one of these ways?
1. Work with our staff to spread our mission across social media platforms.
2. Hold a fundraising event in your home. Our Quechua Benefit staff will help with the details.
3. Involve your church or group in supporting one of our pillars such as education at Casa Chapi Chivay or Yanahuara.
4. Work on our donor appreciation initiative.
5. Engage your local AOA affiliate in a fundraiser for Quechua Benefit.
6. Build international relationships between the students in your local schools and Casa Chapi Chivay or Yanahuara.
These lists of ideas are only the beginning of nearly endless possibilities. We share them to spark YOUR ideas for a volunteer experience that will make a lasting impact. Quechua Benefit will help you design and organize your trip, but here is what we need from you:
1. Each team must be organized and coordinated by a volunteer from your group.
2. Start planning your trip at least 6 months prior to your departure. Longer is better. Past teams highly recommend at least 6 sessions of team pre-trip planning and preparation including cultural training, team building, basic Spanish instruction and gathering items to take with you. While this is recommended, it is not required by Quechua Benefit.
3. Quechua Benefit is not a volunteer-tourism organization. Your team must come ready to work toward making a lasting impact.
4. Come with a plan but leave space and time for the unplanned.
5. Each short-term volunteer is required to pay trip fees, airfare, food and lodging; however long-term interns (30 days or more) can receive room and board at one of our schools.
6. To get started today, please fill out our Online Volunteer Form below.
Together we can make a lasting impact.
Recommended Pre-Trip Lessons:
Helping Without Hurting: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself
Helping Without Hurting in Short Term Missions: Leader’s Guide
Helping Without Hurting in Short Term Missions: Video Series
Helping Without Hurting in Short Term Missions: Participant’s Guide