I just volunteered in the beautiful city of Cusco, Peru for my second time with Máximo Nivel! I decided to return to Cusco to visit and volunteer at the orphanage, Hogar de San Judas Chico, I worked at for two months last year. Cusco is an amazing city with so much to do and see; however, the experience would not have been the same had I not volunteered with Máximo again. It is extremely difficult to find an organization that not only caters to the needs of the volunteers, but also to the citizens of the country that the organization is based in, yet Máximo does exactly that. I was placed in an incredible home-stay, and felt completely comfortable and safe during my time in Cusco. While I loved the home-stay, Máximo makes it clear that if there are any problems or concerns, they are available to help. Having volunteers stay in home-stays allows for the Peruvian hosts to not only make needed extra money, but also creates an amazing immersion experience and gives the hosts a chance to practice their English. Additionally, volunteers are able to practice their Spanish and learn about Peruvian culture.
Working at the orphanage last year was the most eye-opening experience (not to sound cliché) that I have ever had. I immediately knew I would want to return, but still had some nerves about the experience not being the same the second time around. While the experience was different than last time, it was just as incredible. The smiles on the girls faces when we saw each other again for the first time reminded me of exactly why I returned. I came back to Cusco with a purpose: to spend the rest of the donation money that I had previously raised the year before. When I received news of a family emergency back home, Máximo was there for me in more ways than I could have imagined. I thought I was going to have 2 whole weeks to plan out and spend all of the donation money, but I only had one because I had to go home 10 days early. With the help of Máximo, I was able to buy each of the girls shoes, underwear, bracelets, and lotion. Additionally, I was able to pay for two of the girls to take four months worth of English classes at Máximo. I also was able to buy glasses for the girls who needed them, and I was able to pay for the dentist for the girls who needed dental work done. There was no way I could have completed all of this without the help of the amazing organization.
I am extremely happy that organizations like Máximo Nivel exist because they truly take the time to ask the places that they help what tools and things they need, rather than simply implenting their own ideas. Máximo also checks up daily on the volunteers and their projects, and they are always open to advice on how change things to make the help more efficient. I am proud to say I have worked with this organization twice, and hopefully I will be able to work with them again. At least I know my girls at the orphanage, and everyone else that Máximo helps, are in good hands.