The volunteer work of Lawrence Goun (United States) is almost coming to an end. Lawrence – a student of Labor Relations back home – has been doing volunteer work in Peru for a total duration of 8 weeks, at a clinic in Cusco. This clinic – run by a religious order – offers free treatment to mentally and/or physically disabled children.
Before arriving to Peru Lawrence (21 years) already knew he wanted to work with disabled children. He used to volunteer with those children at home and he was interested on getting a chance to work in a totally different culture. At first hesitating between Peru and Vietnam, he finally chose Peru because the project would be attending volunteers over Christmas and New Year. It is always sad and hard for kids to be separated from their families, but even more at Christmas time. For this reason, it was very important for Lawrence to be able to volunteer during that time of the year. Moreover, Lawrence has been learning Spanish since the age of 8. Coming to Peru was the perfect opportunity to practice his Spanish skills!
At almost the end of his project, Lawrence has decided to donate some materials to the clinic in order to make some a long term difference in the life of the children living there. First, he thought of buying tea spoons! Most of the children are facing huge difficulties eating and it would be easier and more efficient to help them feeding with smaller spoons for both the present and future volunteers. Also, he bought a pillow for a boy who needed a new one and some oil for the maintenance of the wheelchairs. But more important, he and his fellow volunteer Alexandra, have bought and donated a new flooring to the project.
In fact, many volunteers were surprised to find out that the children were all spending all their time in their wheelchairs while some of them were totally ready to do a few steps or crawl. But the nurses of the clinic are worried that they would hurt themselves on the floor. Talking to the physiotherapist, Lawrence thought of installing flooring that would be soft enough to prevent this kind of accidents and that would give the children more freedom to move. Also, the floor needs to be easy to clean to keep up with the level of hygiene required at the clinic. Lawrence and Alexandra have chosen colorful flooring, perfect to stimulate perception and creativity on the children. It has been delivered and installed a couple of days ago and it has immediately been such a success! All kids were so very happy to try moving around freely.
Now Lawrence is about to leave Peru and he hopes that each one of the future volunteers that will be placed at the clinic to do volunteer work, will think about the best way of helping using their own skills. Some volunteers might be really good at teaching English, others to stimulate the children to develop their motor skills and so on. An important recommendation: coordinate closely with the AMAUTA Volunteer Coordinator – especially if you consider to make a donation – and interact as much as you can with the local staff at the clinic, from the security guard to the head nurse in order to try to develop a good relationship. You might not like everyone but if you are staying for a few weeks it is essential to put your personal feelings aside to work well together and achieve a meaningful work that will benefit the children.