OCN Teaching and Social Work Programs

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Fancy a career in teaching or as a social worker? We can offer you a variety of exciting opportunities for you to gain much needed experience in these fields while you immerse yourself in the cultural gem that is Peru!

HELP English
In Peru the English language is part of the government designed school curriculum. It is technically a requirement for schools to have English lessons. However, the schools in our area, like many others, are neglected and are not provided the resources or teachers to have English in their schools. So this is where HELP English comes in. The goal of this programme is to provide equal educational opportunities to students in local states schools as those who attend private school in the form of English classes. This will provide greater to more job and educational opportunities.
We work with three local schools in and around Huanchaco. The first and by far the largest of these three is located in central Huanchaco with over 400 students, grades kindergarten-6th. The school is comparatively well-resourced and maintained and you can expect the children to have their own stationary and books, and the concrete classrooms to have blackboards and writing materials.

The second school we work with is based just on the outskirts of Huanchaco. The school has grown into five classrooms to support 8 grades, pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. In this school we teach 1st-6th grade. This school generally only has access to running water 2 or 3 hours per day. These students do not always have access to their own resources and the resources of the school are scarce.

The final school in this area that we work with is based in a shanty town just before Huanchaco. Very recently, in 2009 a head teacher was appointed and she taught all pupils from 1st-6th grade in one room. Now there are over 90 students attending this school but there are only three fully constructed classrooms. The only access to water in this school is through a small spiket in the ground. As well as with the previous school these students do not always have access to their own resources and the resources of the school are scarce.

On top of the local schools in our area we also partner with the mountain community of Yanasara. More information can be found about this opportunity on our website.

For this project you can choose to work as either a HELP English Coordinator or an HELP English Teacher

HELP Youth Projects
The children living in Cerrito did not have access to a particularly stimulating environment, or much to amuse themselves with and as a result they tended towards misbehaving and acting up. However, our volunteers saw a lot of potential there, realised that with a little attention and some activities, these children could really flourish. With some land donated from the local surf school, the volunteers mobilised and built the Skate Ramp to offer a fun and stimulating environment for the children to play in. In 2015, thanks to a massive fundraising effort from volunteers and supporters locally and internationally, we changed location (two blocks away) and built an all-concrete Skate Park with a proper side classroom for non-skate activities for children in Cerrito de la Virgen to enjoy. The main goal of this project is to offer children a safe place to play, while providing the children with positive role models.

For this project you can choose to work as either a HELP Youth Coordinator or an HELP Youth Volunteer.

Music School
The main goal of this project is to coach children and adolescence with a creativity and passion for music, encouraging in them individuality, musical values and instilling in them the importance of practice and hard work. As the school is a public school, it has a very small budget. Despite this, all the staff at the school strive to give the best musical education they can to the students, as well as creating a pleasant environment to study and work in. With the aid of volunteers, they can reach out to more students and provide a more comprehensive education. So, if you have music running through your veins, come and volunteer with us here!

Teaching Assistant at a Special Needs School
his school began as the only special education center in the area tailored to the needs of the 4,500 people in the area with visual deficiencies. The mission of the School is to offer education and vocational training to those in need in order to ensure their participation in the socio-economic development of Peru. Now, the school opens its door to children with other types of disabilities such as down syndrome and autism.

The school is run by Madre Nelida, who ensures the excellent state of the facilities and does an amazing job of looking after the books and equipment. There is a wonderful familial atmosphere at the school and it doesn’t take long to become attached to both the staff and students. The school offers primary school education and assistance with secondary and university school work for students that have moved on to higher levels. It also offers multiple workshops including music, handicrafts, typing and IT as well as teaching how to carry out domestic tasks to help the students become more independent and self-reliant. Some older students also have the opportunity to participate in a unique program offering training in massage therapy, reflexology and beauty treatments and they’re always looking for people to practice on! Once they have completed the training and received certification they have the opportunity to work in a therapeutic centre in the city.

Attending the school is free for families with low incomes (families with higher incomes pay a minimal annual fee), and the state pays the salaries of the staff but does not help with the transportation of the students to the school, nor with the purchasing of textbooks, adapted materials or renovation of old equipment. It is because of this that the Centre asks for donations and external financial help in order to progress and move forward.

Working with children at a Kindergarten
The kindergarten project is located in a shantytown near Huanchaco. The poverty rate in this area is extremely high and this is the only social project around for the underprivileged inhabitants of the area; most of whom are immigrants who moved to the coast full of hope, leaving behind their roots in the highlands to find a better future. For most, the reality hasn’t been easy and many haven’t been able to get full-time jobs and have little option but to work in agriculture or construction, receiving very little money to survive.

Most of the parents never completed their own basic education and therefore they often are not able to support the education of their children. In 2010, the kindergarten started off in a little wooden cottage hosting 8 children to develop their basic skills before going to primary school. As their parents are not charged any fees, the group of children is growing. Since then they have built another wooden cottage, a playground and bathrooms to offer a better environment for the kids.

Assistant at a Children's Home
In Peru childhood is one of the most vulnerable and unprotected periods of a person’s life. Two thirds of children under the age of 5 live in poverty, and 2 out of 10 live in extreme poverty.
The boys who live at the children’s home (it is a single-sex facility, so there are no girls) mostly come from dysfunctional families with major economic problems, where they were often victims of abuse and violence, and are far more likely to drop out of school. Their personalities are often characterized by low self-esteem, frustration, irritability, deficits in self-control, distrust of others, problems with authority and exacerbation of sexuality and aggression.

Started in 2001, the children’s home is a non-profit organisation whose goal is to provide children and adolescents living in the streets and in extreme poverty an opportunity for a better future. It strives to generate the necessary means and resources needed in order to reintegrate the children into society. The house runs according to a very rigid schedule. When a new child enters the home he will learn the rules and regulations and have to adapt to living in a group, which helps in reducing anti-social behaviour. The child’s integration into life in the home is aided by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals – teachers, psychologists, social workers – as well as a varied programme of activities.

Teaching Assistant at an Educational Day Centre
The educational day centre, tries to stimulate these children, firstly, to go to school – many families make the kids work during the school day, arguing that they need the money – and secondly to continue learning in order to give them some hope of a better future. This includes practical help with homework as well as providing fun learning activities and skill development projects
With the start in life that these children have, they need a miracle to end up with a real chance of a good career and future. We don’t expect you to perform miracles, but volunteering here can help enable the poorest kids to have some chance in the future, rather than repeat the cycle of their parents as some of the poorest and most deprived families. This project calls for serious initiative. The families can be resistant to the help offered by day centre and the volunteers. In order to work here you need to be capable of communicating with the families, gaining their trust so they are comfortable and happy for their children to attend the day centre.

Many of these roles can be part-time, so volunteers can combine this work with some part-time work on one of our other projects. Volunteers are requested to commit 20 hours per week (although this could be split between more than one project), and working hours can be coordinated upon arrival.

Working with OCN is a great opportunity to get an inside look at a small NGO. You will gain hands on experience working side by side with our Peru based staff.

For more information on what Otra Cosa Network is all about go to our website

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

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Questions & Answers


based on 11 reviews
  • Impact 8.5
  • Support 9
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 11 of 11
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Volunteering with Otra Cosa - HELP English

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.

Yes, I recommend
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A great place to immerse yourself into Peruvian culture

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Skate and create in Peru

Had an awesome time volunteering with Otra Cosa in Peru. I was working in their skate project which gives the children living in a poor shantytown an opportunity to play and enjoy themselves after school. Dope program, the coolest kids and there is skating as well. What could be better? ;)
I was able to greatly influence the direction in which the project was going and I feel like i was able to bring it forward a lot. In contrast to other volunteer work I had been doing in the past, I feel like my work actually had an impact and changed something. So, all in all pretty dope!

Yes, I recommend
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Great experience!

I volunteered with Otra Cosa for two months in 2015. Otra Cosa`s work and programmes are participatory which meant I was working with the community who help decide the nature organisation`s work, not something you often find with volunteering overseas. It was great because it meant that from day one we warmly welcome and felt part of the community and it immediately felt like home. I met some of the most amazing, open minded and welcoming people. The Otra Cosa Network`s support base was invaluable to my experience in Huanchaco, made up a group of group of friendly volunteers and staff, it meant there was always someone to could talk to about anything, no matter how silly. As cheesy as it sounds I made lifelong friends and I will definitely be going back to visit them!

Yes, I recommend
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Marketing Coordinator volunteer

I spent nearly three months working for Otra Cosa as a Marketing Coordinator. I helped in promoting the Otra Cosa's work among its community and in recruiting news supporters. In such a structure, you can be sure every initiative you take will bring the ship further. Everyone's dedication is the key to go forward. You really feel part of a something. And besides doing something I thought truly useful, it helped me improve my professional skills as community management or English and Spanish speaking.
I think volunteering for Otra Cosa is the best way to have a concrete and positive impact for people who need it and take a break from our european/western way of life...

Yes, I recommend
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My time in Huanchaco

My time volunteering for Otra Cosa has been an invaluable experience. I've been here in Huanchaco for a little over two months now. The town itself is fairly small, but has everything you need and is situated right on the coast of northern Peru. The beach is a 5 minute walk from my house. I live in the organization's volunteer house (there are also homestay and apartment options) with three other volunteers and our three staff members. I volunteer in the office part of the week, and the other part teach English at a primary school. The office has been a great experience-I get to see what it takes to run a non-profit and get to know a little bit more about all the projects the organization runs. I have to say though, teaching English has been my favorite part about my time here. I teach in a shanty town right outside the town (about a 5 minute bus ride away). The school is very simple-classrooms, a central concrete area where the kids have recess, and bathrooms. The kids have so much personality and love having English teachers there. They are so curious and hilarious. What a rewarding experience.

How can this program be improved?
My only recommendation for volunteers coming here is to learn some Spanish first!
Yes, I recommend
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Volunteering with Otra Cosa

I spent five months working mostly at the Casita de Madera in Villa de los Angeles just outside Huanchaco.
It was truly a life experience to be part of the daily life in such a non-developed society. I did really enjoy my time over there, but it would be like lying to say that everything functioned smoothly. You have to be prepared that this is Peru, not an industrialised well-functioning country. Some days non of your fellow staff members will show up, some days the kids wont attend school and sometimes you just don't have much to do.

But you can be sure that even if it might not feel like you are doing very much, the kids -and their parents- love just the fact that you are there playing with them, caring for them and spending your time at their kinder-garden, I felt really welcomed and the people in the village always had s smile on their face and some nice words the say to you.

It is really good to know Spanish, the more you know the more integrated you will get into your work. But you dont have to be fluent, the youngest kids dont care wether you speak spanish or not, just play with them and both you and them will have a good time! Another tips is to be creative, the resources are quite few but the staff are willing to improve the project so don't hesitate to ask questions and come with solutions or activity ideas etc.

If you want a really nice experience of working with amazing children and doing a difference in a quite poor community in south america, i would definitely think about working with Otra Cosa, you get the most out of Peru if you see the 'non turistic' spots as well, at the same time as you live in Huanchaco which is a wonderful little city right on the beach famous for its surfers, fresh fish for almuerzo and a touch of Chimu culture. A nice combination of being a volunteer and having vacation!

How can this program be improved?
Peru is Peru, be open-minded, things will not always work as it was supposed to, and you might not feel all that useful all the time, but you are. I believe that it means a lot to the kids that you are there with them.
Yes, I recommend
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experiences working otra cosa

I really enjoyed working for otra cosa. I worked in a town where the children had no running water or electricity. I found this experience to be really enriching to my life. I would assist the teacher with Pre-k students along with helping them with crafts. The children become very attached which brought me great joy. I would reccommend working with Otra Cosa.

Yes, I recommend
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Initiative and purpose

From experience, volunteering can either be a dream or a nightmare. A nightmare if, after a bumpy 15 hour bus drive, you arrive in the middle of nowhere only to find out that you are not expected, a nightmare if the materials needed for your construction project never actually arrive, a nightmare when you're comfortable clean bedroom is in fact a rundown wooden shack where termites and fleas have set up home.
Otra Cosa was in many aspects a dream volunteering experience. As soon as I arrived I was taken care of by the team; accomodation was set up with a lovely local couple and very quickly I got to work on my project. The work in itself was highly rewarding as I taught English to adults. I've taught many different cultures in my life, but nothing was like teaching these people who have such a thirst for English; here more than anywhere, English is a way out of poverty. They are so curious and it's quite humbling to learn about them and the strides some go to to come to your classes.
But what was great about Otra Cosa, was the inititative I could take. With another volunteer we were encouraged to implement a structure, including syllabuses, so that there's more continuity for future English teachers. Ultimately, the students would benefit most from this and it was great to have the full backing of the Otra Cosa team.

Of course, what you also get at Otra Cosa is the surf, the sun and the fun! Huanchaco is so laid-back that you cannot enjoy your time there...

How can this program be improved?
The staff in the UK seemed a bit disconnected from what happened in Peru. Either they should give more autonomy to the staff in Peru or be more involved.
Yes, I recommend
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Teaching in Huanchaco

first off ill describe the scene: Huanchaco is a small village on the coast of Peru, a couple of miles away from Trujillo. It is a very relaxed place to be, the pace of life is SLOW (in a good way). It is also the cheapest place i have encountered for food, and we went on to Bolivia.

I spent 1 month in Huanchaco in march 2012 teaching english to some of the children and helping out in the school there. The school is called "CEP school" it was run by Padre Tumba .

A typical day in my life in Huanchaco went something like this:

7:00 am Wake up in a very safe house (the volunteer house, highly recommended!) eat fresh mango which was bought from the local market (there was a maggot in one once but extra protein all the way.)

8:30 am arrive at school

I would help some of the other volunteers teaching english, have a go at using my spanish with the kids and teachers. They are really friendly kids - cheaky but friendly.

throughout the day I would also help with the P.E lessons, the garden and any other jobs they needed doing. It could be hard work in the sun but the children at the school are really friendly kids.

the school itself is nothing close to what I was used to. For instance, for long periods of time throughout the day there was no running water.

However this said the school is constantly growing. I was amazed to see how far it had come on donations - the padre showed us pictures of how it started out and it is inspiring to see what they have created from nothing.

13:30 finished school. now i could go to the beach, relax, go to a spanish lesson or help out on another project.

In general there always seemed to be alot of socialising between the volunteers. we would eat in the evening together, sometimes go out to a bar, and with the beach so close we had alot of chilled out fires on the beach.

I wish I could have stayed longer.

How can this program be improved?
I would say that the only critial thing is that huanchaco is small and very chilled out. I really liked this, but maybe not everyone would. there is not a whole lot to do with your spare time. Although the group of people had meant that any spare time we had was fun.

one massive thing I would say is the more Spanish you know the more you will get out of this experience. Being able to speak to the local population will mean that they will warm to you so much more. Also it may mean you don't get ripped of quite as often! learn as much as you can before you go
Yes, I recommend
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English teacher in Huanchaco, Peru

My name is Diego, I am from Brazil and I have spent 6 weeks volunteering with OCN as an English teacher in Huanchaco.

I was living in a hostel two blocks away from the School I worked. I taught English to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade. The kids were very attentive to my lessons and very eager to learn. The better we speak Spanish the easier it would be for us to run the classes however the most important virtue required, in my opinion, is to have charisma with the kids and an outgoing personality. Sometimes the local teacher remain in the classroom as we teach and sometimes we are in our own. In any case, I had authority to send homework and to make exams.

I returned to my country with the feeling that his NGO is very serious and reliable. And I recommend joining their team, thats why Im taking this time to write this review.

How can this program be improved?
The only tip I would give is that the accomodation OCN recommends is not always the best so I would say that getting in touch with previous volunteers by the facebook's page is a good idea.

I stood in a hostel called Mc Callum, which made my stay really confortable. Also I met some volunteers staying in a local artist's house (luis house) that were very happy.
Yes, I recommend


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About 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...