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Otra Cosa Network


Otra Cosa Network is a registered Peruvian non-profit NGO and Registered UK Charity offering a wide variety of affordable, satisfying volunteering opportunities to well-motivated volunteers and interns from around the world to support the needs of our own and our community-run partner projects. We're based in the beautiful coastal town Huanchaco, Trujillo in Northern Peru. Most of our projects are local but we also offer volunteer positions in other locations around Northern Peru.

Otra Cosa Network runs five of our own projects, which are all part of the Huanchaco Education and Learning Programme (HELP). HELP is dedicated to advancing the education possibilities and resources for those living in lower-income communities in Huanchaco and the surrounding shanty towns. Alongside this, we support several partner organisations in the area, as well as in two remote locations in northern Peru.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Where should i start? I did my internship for 8 months with this amazing group of ladies who have changed my life for ever as they inspired me for my final university dissertation topic and career. I started working with them when my Spanish was very bad but they did not mind. They support me and slowly we build our new friendship that keeps growing even I left.

I really enjoyed work with those ladies. When I started I was not extaly sure what i will be doing but later I used my knowledge of the sewing and stared leading the sewing classroom. I doesn't say it was easy but I can say after our hard work we were able to deliver our first delivery of tone bags and present our brand new sewing classroom, which is available for the whole group and any of women can join the free sewing class.

I would recommend to come and help to this group of ladies who wants to learn new skills, however they need push. The facilities are available to run any of classes like sewing, baking, hydroponic garden or even business class. It just waiting for you who are independent, does not mind working alone and willing to take this opportunity to empower women and give them new opportunity in their life.

I really recommend this program as I had strong support form my manage who always found time to listen me, give me advice and support me while I had hard time with the project. I would never made it with the women thought if i would not have huge support behind me.

I hope somebody will come and take over the job I have done and will have the amazing experience as I had.

What would you improve about this program?
Just more volunteers are needed :)
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Yes, I recommend this program

By the ratings I gave the program, you can already guess that I loved working on HELP Environment, and that it was a great project. I stayed in Huanchaco from September 27th to December 18th 2015, and I wish I could go back right away and stay there.

There are two main aspects that make HELP Environment an amazing program: first and foremost, the variety of projects that you can work in, from organising the Yo Cuido Mi Playa events to hydroponic gardening, from recycling workshops in the afterschool program to the environment workshops given by local university students to the kids in Huanchaco. It was great to be able to take part in all those projects, to see how much they help the kids understand the importance of protectiong the environment. The second aspect was the feeling of working as part of a big family. From the OCN staff to the volunteers, from the kids we worked with to the locals, Huanchaco is an amazing place to live and work in: safe, friendly and fun.

If you're not sure yet about going, stop thinking, pack, and get moving. You won't be disappointed!

Yes, I recommend this program

Working with the women at the community centre through HELP Women was an amazing experience. We (the women and I) achieved several things, including planning field trips, organising english, swimming and surf lessons for their children, and sewing classes for the mothers and more, but it was something else that will stay with me forever. They taught me solidarity and friendship, and how a community centre can feel more secure, and more like your home, than your actual home, and the real impact of gender inequality in countries like Peru. It was a true privilage to listen to their stories, and try to work side by side with the social worker to find solutions to everyday issues, but also to work side by side with the women in their everyday life, where they again and again exceeded outside expectations for the sake of their children.
If you are a strong and independent woman who wants to work with other strong and independent women, this is the volunteer placement for you - especially if you have a background in social work.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I chose Otra Cosa because from speaking to a former volunteer, the website, and speaking to the office, I felt as though this was an NGO which makes a real and positive impact on the community. I spent two months volunteering with Otra Cosa and I believe this is the case. There are opportunities to get involved with many different projects. I taught English in two primary schools, I helped run environmental awareness workshops for children, I visited the skate ramp and more.

Huanchaco is a fun and safe town, and a great place to immerse yourself in Peruvian life. I made friends with other volunteers (international and local) and other locals, which really helped to have a fab time in Huanchaco. Otra Cosa help you find accomodation, I loved staying with a family, as they helped me to improve my Spanish, and I got to experience their way of life.

Huanchaco is also a great base to explore the north of Peru, especially some small places that you might not otherwise visit. I went on weekend trips with other volunteers to some beautiful towns and cities in the north.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I started volunteering with Otra Cosa in 2014. I had just graduated college and was looking for international experience. I worked in a school with the blind and students with autism. There is a strong need for special education in Peru. The school I worked at is the only one in the city who works with special needs.

I had an amazing experience! OCN is the best organization around. It's set in a surfer town with not much to do, but you will learn to love Huanchaco for what it is. I had supportive staff and met tons of new friends. I loved the school I worked at because I learned what I wanted to do with my life by working there. I enjoyed my experience so much that I returned a year after to work at the same exact school with OCN again! I even got to be in the same classroom with my head teacher.

The managers at OCN are amazing people. Juany, Peter, Jenny, Amy and Beata are some of the most kind hearted and dedicated individuals I have ever met! Huanchaco is lucky to have them as a team! If you decide to join OCN, you will NOT regret it.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Julie Jeliazovski

Julie has always liked to help others, as long as she can remember. She even wanted to become a firefighter when she was younger, to help save other people's lives. Growing up she discovered that she really enjoyed traveling and meeting new people, discovering their culture, so it became obvious that she needed to volunteer for an NGO!

Why did you choose this program?

When I decided to go volunteering abroad, I didn't have a country in mind; I just wanted to participate in a project related to the environment. That's how I started to browse the internet, looking for NGOs that I could join, and I stumbled on a website listing South American organizations. As soon as I read about Otra Cosa, I knew I wanted to go there, and my email exchanges with the staff confirmed it - it's a very well organized NGO, with some very interesting projects and the staff and volunteers make a great team to work and live with.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Otra Cosa helps their volunteers to find good accommodation depending on personal preferences, and the volunteer coordinator even came to pick me up when I arrived at the local airport in Trujillo. We went on a tour of the town so I could get used to the area, and the staff is really available in case you need any help. Volunteers have to book their flights on their own, but as I said before if you need some advice on bus companies or safety for example, someone will be there to answer you.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The first thing I think about when someone asks me "What would you do differently?" is my suitcase. I packed way too many things, and I ended up not using half of them. Plus it would have been much easier to travel around with a smaller bag. But it was my first time traveling this far and for such a program, so now I know better and can tell others about it!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Volunteers at Otra Cosa are asked to work for around 20 hours a week, but there is no definite schedule as it depends on the projects: sometimes you will have a few workshops planned, other days you have to prepare events, so it's on your own schedule. It really is variable, which means you can also arrange it most of the time if you want to go participate in other projects like I did: teaching English in school or helping with the after school program, for example. You can also fit in surf lessons, or go to the market ... As long as your work is done and you put in the hours, there's quite a lot of freedom!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was a bit scared because Peru is not famous for being super safe, and my Spanish was far from good when I arrived, but in the end I never once felt threatened and everyone is helpful despite the language issues. So don't be scared (I'm not saying to be foolish either, far from it, but being terrified will make your experience much less enjoyable) and just go for it. You won't regret it! And if you really struggle with the language, then you can always take classes once in the country, and you can easily find another tourist or someone who speaks English to help you.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sarah Nielsen

Job Title
Otra Cosa Team Member

Tell us a little about Otra Cosa and your role at the company.

Otra Cosa Network was started in 2004 by a Dutch couple as they from their vegetarian restaurant developed a small, low-cost volunteering agency supporting a few local projects with the help of volunteers. In 2007, our current directors, Peter and Juany Murphy, took over the organisation and now run it from England with the assistance of our on-site Operations Manager Alton Germain and Assistant Manager Laura Hoskins. Otra Cosa Network works with several different Peruvian charities and organisations to which we send willing and capable volunteers. Otra Cosa Network also has its own projects, HELP (Huanchaco Education and Learning Program) projects, started by volunteers who saw opportunites in helping the local community in Huanchaco in different ways. Most of the projects supported by Otra Cosa Network are supporting children and communities through teaching but we also work with projects supporting community health, animals, organic farming, etc.

I have been working with Otra Cosa Network for a little over 2 months now. I am working on my master's degree in Development and International Relations in Denmark and I am doing a 6-month internship in Peru with Otra Cosa Network. I work in the office along with our operations manager, assistant manager and a few other volunteers and interns. My work mostly consist of online marketing, trying to recruit more volunteers in order to make it possible for Otra Cosa to keep supporting their current projects and expand their projects to support a larger part of the local community. I also introduce newly arrived volunteers to the work of Otra Cosa and life in Huanchaco, Peru. Otra Cosa is a small NGO which means that everyone in the office is involved in a lot of different tasks on a day-to-day basis and we are mostly working on our own initiative as a lot of faith is put in our abilities and passion to help Otra Cosa Network have more of an impact on the local community and help the people here who need it.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

I am very new to the volunteering industry as I am still a student. I study Development and International Relations at university in Denmark and as part of my study program I am doing an internship this semester (my 2nd semester of my master's studies). As a student of development, working with an NGO is highly relevant and interesting as I get to see how development work is carried out in practice.

Until now, my experience and knowledge of development work was purely theoretical from my work at university. So far, it has definitely shown me how volunteering can play a big part in helping a community develop and how organisations like Otra Cosa Network can make a difference in the lives of people who due to less fortunate socio-economic circumstances can benefit greatly from a little help of generous volunteers.

What makes Otra Cosa unique?

Otra Cosa is unique in a several different ways. First of all, we offer low-cost volunteering opportunities. We do not believe in charging excessive amounts for enthusiastic people eargerly wanting to help out by volunteering at worthwhile projects in Peru. Our location also makes us unique. A lot of volunteering organisations working out of Peru are located in the Southern part of the country (mainly Cusco) but Otra Cosa is located in Northern Peru and working with a lot of local projects.

This brings me to another area that makes Otra Cosa unique. We have a very broad range of volunteer projects. We do not just work with English teaching, animal care or health care. We offer many different types of projects which makes us attractive to a wide range of volunteers with different interests.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

A good international volunteer is first of all open-minded. Working and living in a completely different culture can be an overwhelming experience but with an open mind and a lot of patience, it can be a life-changing experience. It is also important to be flexible. Tasks can change from day-to-day and working life in a different country can be very different from what you're used to back home. Other important characteristics are motivated, creative and hard-working.

What does the future hold for Otra Cosa?

Otra Cosa is always working on recruiting more volunteers to keep supporting the projects we are already working with. It is also of great importance to us to be able to expand our projects and find new ways to help the local community. Our volunteers have many great ideas as how to improve and develop our projects and it is our goal to be able to do this.