Quest Overseas, in association with our ‘Villa Maria Project’, have been in a partying mood celebrating 20 years volunteering and hard work in the densely populated slum district of Lima. Over two decades, we have provided countless children with safe and fun options to stay away from dangerous gangs, as well as built over 100 houses for the most vulnerable of families.
2016 welcomed another fantastic crop of enthusiastic international volunteers to Peru who all made their individual mark on this project that we all at Quest hold so dear.
Our 2016 summer team, albeit small in number, made a real impression. No more so than on the two families whose lives they instantly transformed. Thanks solely to our volunteer’s project donations, they, alongside local Peruvian project staff, were able to build two new houses.
One family in particular were in a desperate state. Not only was their ‘house’ made from plastic bags and rice sacks, the roof was ready to fall down at any moment. This one room housed nine people. Three adults and six children cramped together in an area that is probably smaller than your bedroom. It is hard to imagine the struggle and the negativity that can grow when things seem so hopeless. Our volunteers built them a new, strong house. The idea is to give them a positive boost that can kick-start their lives and give them real hope for the future.
We don’t just paint houses because they look more aesthetically pleasing. The paint protects the wood from the thick humidity Lima receives due to its location at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, which in turn increases the house’s lifespan. Having said that, there are now over 100 different colourfully painted houses built by Quest Overseas volunteers, turning Villa Maria into a prettier, cleaner looking area. Somewhere the residents can take much more pride in. Houses independently built are also often vibrantly coloured, transforming the hills of Villa Maria into a colourful, live patchwork of city life.
Everybody should have the right to a safe, stable home. Every child should have the right to play and the right to study without worries and burdens often accompanying adulthood. At Villa Maria we have been trying for 20 years to ensure these rights are provided to the poorest of communities.
All our volunteers who come to Villa Maria note that without the funny, optimistic and dedicated local staff this project would simply not function. This local and international infectious desire to change things, fix problems but also have fun leaves everybody smiling: volunteers, Quest staff, local staff, local adults and local children.
With all social projects, there is no real ‘end’. Instead, as a responsible volunteering organisation, we too have to evolve to make sure that we provide the most efficient use of our volunteers’ money and time while making as big and useful an impact as possible. Villa Maria as a project is constantly looking to change, to improve our impact and make sure we are a long-term support for the various communities in this district.
To do this we are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to ensure that 2017 can be even more productive! Apply today and see how you could contribute to the solving of social issues in one of the poorest areas in South America.
Author Bio: Matty is a charity project manager and expedition leader for Quest Overseas in Peru and Bolivia. Graduate
from University College London, BA History. Currently residing in Colombia and always looking for new adventures to lead his teams on.