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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Plans for 2010: Connecting With Small NGOs

The Voluntraveler team has been speaking with a couple of small charity organizations recently that offer volunteer experiences, and we plan to offer their programs as part of our Voluntraveler mission to place excellent volunteers in exceptional programs. Partnerships like these will be our focus moving into 2010.

If you know of a small grassroots charity that is both in need of volunteers and can offer them a meaningful experience that is safe and created with sustainability in mind, please contact us.

The larger volunteer organizations have a very loud "voice" with a huge marketing budget and many staff. One of our goals for 2010 is to help pool the resources and connections of smaller organizations like Para el Mundo to help raise the profile of the little charities running on a shoestring, who need volunteers and funding. In many ways these smaller charities can offer a better, more immersive volunteer experience, especially for volunteers staying longer than a few weeks - something many of the larger adventure travel companies and volunteer organizations don't really focus on.

To keep up with what we are doing, you can follow us on twitter.
You can also find us on facebook.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Barrie high school students fundraising for PaM

On October 8th, 2009, PaM directors traveled to Barrie, Ontario to make presentations in four classes at Bear Creek Secondary School, to talk about the work PaM does in Peru and help the students develop fundraising activities as a project for their Community Involvement Program requirements. Students from the civics department were given a slideshow presentation and talk, outlining the plight of school children in this poor and remote region of northern Peru, and about the history of PaM's activities in support of education in and around Mancora.

The students will put together their own small fundraising projects over the course of this school term, and the money raised will go to support young Peruvians their own age. The project will culminate in a video-conference between the high-school students in both countries, allowing them to meet and speak to each other and foster a cultural exchange.

PaM directors have put together a presentation package that fits in well with many aspects of the Ontario high-school curriculum, including civics, history, geography, world issues and environmental science, and which can be tailored to meet individual class and topical needs. The program creates a unique opportunity for students to become directly involved in working with and assisting youth their own age in a developing country. For more information, please contact Josh Hehner ( or Sean Jacquemain (

Monday, September 14, 2009

Volunteer Fairs - Ontario

The Voluntraveler Team will be visiting several universities this fall to talk to students about volunteer opportunities in Peru with Para el Mundo. They are currently in need of volunteers of all kinds for 2010 for their medical, community and education programs. If you want to stop by and chat and learn more about what we do with Para el Mundo we will be manning a table at volunteer and work abroad fairs at the following universities:

September 22 - University of Waterloo
September 23 - University of Toronto (Mississauga Campus)
November 4 - University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus)
November 5 - University of Toronto (Downtown Campus)

Let us know if there is a volunteer fair in Ontario you would like to see us at. Email

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Girl's Club Mural is underway!

Sam and I have been working hard over the past two weeks washing, prepping, blocking, and preparing the wall next to the main entrance of Micaela school for painting, which began last Friday at our weekly girls club meeting! While we usually have about 6 - 10 girls in Club de Chicas, about 20 came to paint, and even more people were dropping by to take a look! Even in a whirlwind of vibrantly colored paints and teenage girls, nobody put a brush out of line -- the mural is looking great! We will be meeting again this Friday to add the finishing touches (in the meantime, Sam and I will be doing much additional painting) and of course for the girl's to add their names and take photos!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Volunteer Update from Mancora Peru

(Photo: Volunteers and friends Ann, Armando, Dave, Alex, and Sarah at a beach bonfire)

Hello! My name is Elise, and I am a current volunteer here in Mancora, Peru! I might be updating every so often with exciting news or inane anecdotes (most likely the latter) just to give you an idea of what life is like in Mancora.

After having a full house (8 people! We should have applied to be on 'the Real World') things are mellowing out as now it is just Jason, Samantha, me, and our adorable gatas (cats) Toffee and Eddy. We have been here for about a month and a half, although I am not very good at keeping track so it may have been longer. Time goes way too fast here! We are always busy with projects (I even make time for a paid job from my university which I do via the internet) and somehow, never get sick of surfing.

Recent events include:
  • Learning to make homemade ice cream from a friend who owns a restaurant in town
  • Drawing up the final sketch for the mural that the Club de Chicas will be painting in their school and preparing for the next meeting on Friday (look forward to pictures!)
  • Playing endless games of dodgeball during rec time at Robin Hood (they call it 'Mata-gente' here: literally translated to 'kill people'. Don't worry, its very fun and not violent)
  • Celebrating the 4th of July by finishing off an awesome day of surfing and beach volleyball with a barbeque at a friend's house involving excessive amounts of pasta salad, potato salad, s'mores, hot dogs, red beans, and tuna burgers.
  • Elise attempting to make the pathetically uncomplicated dish 'Mala Rabia' and ruining dinner for everyone. Luckily the shop across the street makes amazing cake and juice.

Upcoming events include:
  • Painting the mural!
  • Heading out with the Dengue team tomorrow morning to do our usual rounds of water testing and larvae-cide distribution
  • Saying goodbye to our housemate, Alex, this evening as she heads for a week of trekking in Cuzco!
  • Pineapple Challenge: Elise, Sam, and Jason attempting to make as many recipes involving pinapple in one weekend as possible. (Lets see if this actually happens or if we just eat all the pineapple)
Feel free to e-mail if you have any questions about life in Mancora! We'll be in touch.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Daniel Castillo Surgery Update - Success!

We would like to update you all on the success of our fundraising campaign to raise money to assist 9-year old Daniel Castillo from Mancora, Peru, who has been suffering from a large cyst in his jaw. Daniel’s family are Primary School teachers from the remote area of Northern Peru where our partner charity, Para el Mundo (PaM), has been active since 2004, and have been unable to afford the surgery, biopsy, medical tests and imaging which were required to repair the large hole in Daniel’s jaw and heal the infection.

Thanks to the generous support of our friends, family members and the large network of kind folks we have been able to reach, we were able to raise the money required for his care. The first installment of $1,500 USD was sent to Peru via Western Union on June 16th, paving the way for the scheduling of Daniel’s surgery. Following a delay during which Daniel was recovering from a sinus infection, which temporarily prevented the surgery from taking place, Daniel entered the hospital on June 26th and was operated on during the day of June 27 by maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Santos of the University of Lima Teaching Hospital.

We have just recently received the wonderful news that Daniel’s surgery has gone successfully, and he is now recovering at home. The second installment of the $2,100 USD total that we managed to raise will be sent to the family this week, which will cover the rest of the hospital bill, as well as the expensive medications Daniel now needs to stimulate his body to repair the damage to his jaw bone. Although his jaw is now wired shut, and he will be eating through a straw for the next while, he is apparently feeling much better, and is healing quickly. The stitches will be removed this coming Saturday.

Daniel has written the following message to his many supporters, to thank you all for your contributions (translation below):

Hola como estan por alla bueno quiero agradecer por lo que están haciendo por mi y bueno yo estoy feliz, ah y tambien quiero agradecerle a los amigos mando saludos a everyone.

Los quiero mucho,

[Translation: Hello. How are you all? Here, things are going well. I want to thank you for what you have done for me, and, well, I am happy, and want to thank all my friends. Please send my regards to everyone. I love you very much, Daniel]

To those of you who requested one, or who provided contact information via one of the online donation mechanisms (such as Facebook Causes or, we will be sending out charitable tax receipts this week. If anyone who donated would like one but did not provide contact info, please feel free to write and request one (contributions of $25 CAD or over). To any of our American supporters, PaM USA has recently received its 501(c)3 status (charitable status), and can shortly begin offering charitable receipts for American contributions. Again, please contact us to inquire about this.

Peru is a very poor country, lacking any kind of public health care, and poor & working families are often forced to go without medical care. Without the generous contributions from all of you, this would not have been possible. We are eternally grateful for all that you have done to support PaM and Daniel’s cause, and we are overjoyed that, together, we have been able to reduce the suffering of this boy who has come to mean so much to our extended PaM family. His family’s thanks goes out to you, as does ours.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fundraising Dinner Successful

After a few weeks of promotion and advertising in local English and Spanish media, the fundraising buffet dinner and celebration of Peruvian culture and cuisine at La Cocina de Doña Luz's was a success, with $500 in proceeds going to Para el Mundo (PaM). Also that evening, long-time PaM supporter Jennifer Balaishis donated a further $500 on behalf of her class at Langstaff Secondary School as part of their ongoing fundraising efforts to support the work being done in Peru.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this event a success and for your continued support of PaM and Voluntraveler.

The photo above is of Josh Hehner (PaM/Voluntraveler) presenting La Cocina de Doña Luz owner Luis Parreto with a framed photo taken in Mancora as a gift for his continued support.