PERU - Seaview resident Lynne B. Roy's favorite pictures of recent travels to Lima, Peru are not of mystical Machu Picchu, but rather the sweet smiles and bright eyes of children at the largest orphanage in South America.
Roy and 19 other individuals spent two weeks in October volunteering on child care and construction projects at Puericultorio Perez Aranibar, a children's home housing 600 vulnerable youths. Situated along the oceanfront in Lima, this former government compound now is home for hundreds of youths who have been abused, neglected or orphaned.
The service program was coordinated by Global Volunteers, a non-profit organization that offers short-term volunteer programs in 20 countries around the world.
By immersing herself in the daily rhythms of local life, Roy gained unique insights into the people and culture of Peru. Roy focused her energies on remodeling the facility's dining room and working with teen-age boys at the orphanage.
"I worked with the laborers during the morning and with teen-age boys in the afternoon. We enjoyed exchanges about the job, what we were doing and safety issues," said Roy.
During free time, volunteers toured Lima's charming plazas and marketplaces, museums and colonial churches. Some also ventured inland to Cuzco and mystical Machu Picchu.
At the invitation of local host organizations, Global Volunteers sends teams of volunteers to sites worldwide to work on projects ranging from teaching English to assisting with healthcare to constructing community buildings.
Roy is a believer in this type of "citizen diplomacy," saying, "I am happy to be representing the United States in this way and helping other cultures see us as we really are - not how we are portrayed in movies and television."
In most cases, no special skills are required to volunteer. Global Volunteers is not subsidized by any government or religious agency. Volunteers pay a tax-deductible fee, from $1,395 to $2,495, to cover the food, lodging and project expenses. Airfare is extra. Project sites include: Australia, China, India, Cook Islands, Indonesia (suspended), Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, Tanzania, Ghana, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Ireland and the United States.
Contact Global Volunteers at (800) 487-1074 or (www.globalvolunteers.org).