Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most commonly asked questions about volunteering in Peru.
Do I need to speak Spanish to apply/volunteer?
Spanish is not a requirement for our program, but Spanish experience is recommended. The more Spanish a volunteer knows, the easier it will be to communicate in-country.
Why do I have to pay to volunteer? Where does the money go?
The funds for program costs go back into the program for costs like transportation, materials, and donations that we make to the local worksites. Also, some funds go to the program´s costs for other seasons when there are less or no volunteers here, but the program is still running.
Do worksite (clinic, health post, school, orphanage) staff speak English or will I need to communicate in Spanish?
Sometimes there will be one or two professionals that speak English, but the standard is that the staff members at these worksites do not speak English. You will need to communicate in Spanish but in most cases, beginners will have a partner that speaks some Spanish.
How much money should I bring for weekend trips/personal expenses?
This is completely dependent on personal standards of comfort when travelling. However, many weekend trips cost approximately 100-150 American dollars. Personal expenses usually cost volunteers about 10-20 American dollars per week.
Do I have to be in college to apply/participate?
Not at all; on the contrary we have had volunteers who have recently graduated from high school or already graduated several years prior. We look at all applications on an individual basis.
My flight gets in at 4am. Will someone be there to pick me up at the airport?
Any time of night, or even after flight delays, we will have a coordinator present at the airport to pick you up. We will do our best to track your flight status but please e-mail us any flight itinerary changes.
What’s it like to volunteer?
Volunteering is a fully immersive experience that allows you to practice your Spanish, gain experience in your field of choice, and learn about a new culture. However, the best way to learn about volunteer experiences is from past volunteers themselves. Check out our Volunteer Testimonials page to learn more.
Is there Internet service in Peru?
Yes, there is Internet service in Peru as well as access in all of the cities where we have volunteer programs. Access at homestays does vary from city to city, however. In Trujillo, most homestays have access to wifi and there is also access in our office. In Pacasmayo and Otuzco, most homestays do not have access to internet; however, there are internet cafes available where volunteers can use the internet. The connection is a little slower in these smaller cities, however, and volunteers have found uploading pictures or talking via Skype to be a little more difficult. Through internet cafes, though, all volunteers have easy access to email. There are also phone booths where volunteers can pay by the minute to make calls abroad.
How can I call volunteers while they're in Peru? Will they have phone access?
Yes, our volunteers will have phone access in all the areas they will be working for the duration of the program. Many volunteers opt to purchase a Peruvian cell phone during their stay in Peru. The cost is inexpensive, and they can receive calls for free (local or international). If they choose not to buy a phone, you can contact them via their roommates or via our staff phone numbers, which can be found in the Volunteer Handbook.
How do I call Peru? I'm trying to call a volunteer, but the call isn't going through.
To call Peru from the US, dial 011 51 (country code for Peru) and the number. If you are calling a cell phone, you would simply dial 011 51 and the cell phone number.
If you are calling a land line (i.e. the volunteer’s host family or a hotel), you should dial 011 51 and then usually there is an area code (1 for Lima, 44 La Libertad, etc). Many times in travel books, there will be a zero before the area code. This should be omitted for international dialing. For example, if the number is (044) 723451, you should dial 011 51 44723451.
My parents are worried about safety in Peru. What should I tell them?
Obviously travelling outside of the country is dangerous. However, being informed and aware can prevent most unfortunate circumstances. For accurate and up-to-date information, you or your parents can contact us directly by e-mail.
My son/daughter didn't pre-order a cell phone. Can I do that for them? Can they still buy one upon arrival to Peru?
Yes! You can pre-order the phone by contacting us directly via email at email@example.com. Volunteers should also have the link to order directly. There is a cost of approximately $25 (double-check as sometimes the price can vary) that you will need to submit along with the final payment as well. Phones can also be purchased upon arrival to Peru; however, it may take us a day or two for our staff to help them purchase one.
Can I send letters or a packages to volunteers while they're in Peru? How long do they take to get there?
Yes, you can mail letters and packages to volunteers while they are here. You can mail directly to the host family’s address (the volunteers have this information) or to our office in Trujillo (address available in the Volunteer Handbook) and we will make sure it gets to them. It generally takes 10-14 days for mail to reach Peru from the United States.
Small packages do not usually have a problem getting through customs, but larger boxes can be harder to pass through. Peru has very strict customs laws, but depending on who is working when the package is received, we may have many problems or none at all. As an example, a volunteer whose family sent 4 boxes last summer received 3 of them without problems straight to her door but received the 4th box 3 weeks later than the others and had to go to customs to pick up the package. For this reason, we recommend donations to be brought down in volunteers’ suitcases. Please do not send valuables in the mail!
How can we contact volunteers in the case of an emergency?
If you’re unable to get ahold of a volunteer by personal means, you are welcome to contact our staff at the phone numbers and emails provided in the Volunteer Handbook. You may also call our office number in the United States at (480) 788-8483, as messages are forwarded to Peru.
Will I be living alone at the homestay or with another person?
All home stays have at least 2 people assigned to live there.
Are Vive Peru staff available in the city where I will be living/working?
Yes, our largest program is in Trujillo where at least 3 staff members will be available. There is a coordinator in each of our smaller programs in Pacasmayo and Otuzco.
I’m a vegetarian or have other non-medical dietary restrictions. Will my dietary concerns be taken into consideration?
Of course they will! However, these restrictions are not as common here in Peru, so some patience may be required with your host family. However, the families are accommodating and more than happy to respect your restrictions.
My university offers credit for internships. Can I receive internship credit for my volunteer experience in Peru?
We will try our best to work with your university to make sure you get all of the credit you can. Please inform us if you will need any documents or letters with time to complete these forms before the deadline.
How can I get a copy of the Volunteer Handbook you keep mentioning?
Please ask the volunteer you know to forward you a copy or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to send you an updated copy.