It had always been my ambition to live and work abroad, to experience new places, cultures and ways of living, which led me to study languages at university. This dream was put on hold due to the global pandemic, but by May 2021 things were tentatively starting to look better with vaccinations being rolled out across the world. I decided it finally had to happen. The universe certainly agreed with me as I did a quick google search and within half an hour found the Madres Luchadoras project. This combined two great passions of mine, the empowerment of women, and textiles. I applied straight away and 5 months later, here I am. 

“What is this project you’re going to work on ?” you may ask, as many of my family and friends did. Well, Intiwawa has been supporting families in the Mollebaya district of Arequipa, but realised that additional financial and emotional support to the mothers of these families would be extremely beneficial to both current and future generations. They therefore started the Madres Luchadoras program, which trains the mothers in knitting and garment making, and supplies the materials, so that the “mamitas” have both a skill and a product that they can sell. 

After a week of quarantine, I began working with the Mamitas. I arrived at a time when the group were finishing their training  and were handing in practice products, and so I went straight in to trying to understand and organise the intake and outtake of materials and finished garments. 

I also tried my best to start to get to know everyone and understand a bit more about their lives. I learned about the sacrifices these women make just to attend the sessions at Intiwawa, as well as finish the quotas of products attributed to them, as many also work long hours at other jobs as well as looking after their families. 

As the weeks went on, my role also included sourcing and collecting new materials and tools in town, making an inventory of finished products which will be sold internationally and also at local markets, helping to organise and run our place at this local market (feria), keeping updated on the progress the mamitas were making and trying to keep everyone informed of day to day activities. This may seem a lot, especially considering my still sub par Spanish and unfamiliar country and culture. Luckily I have the support of Manon, the general director of Intiwawa, Luis, the president, and many of the other lovely volunteers, whose hard work and dedication to Intiwawa and the families of Mollebaya is truly awe inspiring. 

As I become more integrated into the Madres Luchadoras project, I feel more and more excited about its potential and the opportunities it creates for the mamitas and Intiwawa as a whole. We are currently working on “Intiwarmi”’s (mothers of the sun) first official collection of hats, gloves and scarves that will be made from high quality 100% baby alpaca wool and which will be sold in Europe via retailers and on the Intiwawa website. We are also hoping to send some other handmade products out in time for Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled!

Other than that, living in Arequipa is great fun! The food is cheap and tasty, the people are friendly, the traffic is crazy, the buildings and landscape are beautiful and the weather is predictably variable – sweaty in the day and freezing cold as soon as the sun goes down. I’m lucky to live in Intihouse, a big historic house right in the centre of the city with amazing views of the mountains from the terrace. Arequipa itself is very lively and, little by little, things are starting to reawaken after COVID. I can’t wait to explore how many more things Arequipa, and Peru, has to offer!

Each week out here is different, but every day I am learning and experiencing new and exciting things! 

Many thanks to Intiwawa for having me, and many thanks to you for reading!

Ella McGee

The Story behind Madres Luchadoras

In 2017, together with various committed volunteers in Arequipa, Intiwawa went in search of ideas for a sustainable project that would allow the mothers of the children of Intiwawa to generate an alternative source of income from the physically exhausting work in brick production and to promote the mothers’ self-confidence and self-worth, which in turn would contribute to the long-term development of the community of San Isidro, Arequipa.

Initially, Intiwawa pursued the idea of creating a bakery. Thanks to the generous support from donors, we were able to fundraise €2,475 for this new project in the spring of 2018. A small, dedicated team of local volunteers quickly teamed up to carry out a comprehensive feasibility study. The study included an analysis of the local market, financial viability and
projected benefits for the mothers. Contrary to our expectations, it turned out that the framework for the project was not viable and the risks higher than initially assumed. Due to a highly saturated market for bakery products in San Isidro, the profit margins would be considerably lower than expected and would therefore generate very low salaries, making the self-sustainability of the project impossible. We would only have been able to hire two mothers to work in the bakery, for a salary that would end up being only slightly higher than brick production. In addition to this, the working hours for this type of work are not family-friendly. For all these reasons, the benefits for the mothers and the community were not as convincing as we had initially hoped. We decided to abandon the idea of the bakery project and identify alternative projects that would meet the developmental goals of IntiWawa and contribute to the mothers’ empowerment.

In the following months, we evaluated various new project ideas. In mid-2018, Intiwawa decided to create a textile project called “Madres Luchadoras”, with the idea to train the mothers in producing textiles made from alpaca wool and sell them in the local and international markets. Its aim would be not only to create a viable, alternative source of income for the mothers, but also to empower them through their active participation in the social and economic life of their community with equal rights and opportunities. Consequently, this will improve the quality of life of their children and families and contribute to promoting their identity, values and customs. 

The project initially began at the end of 2018 with 10 mothers of our Intiwawa children. Supported by trainers, the mothers were first taught the basics of sewing, knitting, and weaving, before starting to make a variety of textile products. More mothers progressively joined and started to sell their products, ranging from little bags for a local organic chocolate company to pillow cases to sweaters and other clothing items. After having produced 1000 textile bags for chocolates, Intiwawa invested betterplace funds for an in-depth training of the mothers at the beginning of 2019. Reaching the end of that year, the mothers had produced 500 clothing items of which more than 300 items as well as approximately 750 chocolates decorated with textile bags have been sold, leading to a total income of up to 15000 Soles. A whopping 50% of the initial investment had already been regained in the mothers’ products sales after only 6 months, giving us high hopes for the long-term financial self-sustainability of this project!

With the money raised in 2019, we purchased 6 weaving machines and started the first classes of training on these machines in March 2020, just a few weeks before all onsite activities were shut down due to the first COVID-19 cases in Perú and the subsequent quarantine that followed. The year 2020 has not been an easy year, especially for our mothers living in the community of Mollebaya who have had to cope not only with the lack of employment brought on by the pandemic, but were also faced with new and urgent needs such as means of protection from COVID-19 (masks, disinfectant, etc.) in addition to the lack of financial resources to support their families, attend to their children’s medical and new technological and educational needs. Due to the extraordinary restrictions as a result of the pandemic, we designed a 100% online training with the objective of continuing with our mission to empower mothers and to be a
point of support in the midst of the health crisis that has been affecting underprivileged families in a profound way. In addition to the textile production and leadership training, our mothers also received psychological support – for example, identifying various difficult situations in their homes – as well as personal finance classes where the mothers learnt that the time and dedication they put into their weaving training has an economic value which should be recognized.

In October and November of 2020, we made an inventory of the products woven by the mothers in 2019 and exported 73 of the 259 hand-knitted pieces to Germany, selling all of these products during our Christmas campaign and generating an income of €1274! After deducting transport costs, 80% of the revenue has been paid out to the mothers and 20% will be returned and reinvested this year for our program needs. The project has evolved since its beginnings to include a stronger holistic component in our mothers’ social and economic empowerment, encompassing not only textile training but also support in other key areas – namely psychological and financial. The idea for the future of Madres Luchadoras is to progressively involve the mothers in the areas of administration and commercialization of their products and to continue supporting them so that they can become leaders in their communities and use the financial, productive, socio-emotional and marketable skills they have learnt to achieve their dreams and contribute to sustainable change in their communities !

The constant amazement of accompanying and learning

In March 2020 our lives changed radically, and the year was a challenge to adapt to a new normal which we still weren’t able to fully understand. Intiwawa as an organization was not alien to this but with a lot of dedication and work we managed to efficiently adapt a face-to- face accompaniment to a virtual one and with all the lessons that the 2020 adaptation brought us, Intiwawa must continue to generate learning and teachings that help our children face the different challenges that may arise in life.

Starting the month of March with socio-educational and emotional support was a very different challenge from last year, because having accumulated a whole year of experiences and teachings, the challenge we have with children and parents is much greater, but with the Commitment and work as always Intiwawa is able to fulfill great goals and advances.

The experiences we share as a team are very rewarding; For example, the first meetings began by filling us with joy, nervousness and eager to meet the people who would be in charge, feeling the phone ring until someone on the other side says: Hello, good morning ? Immediately beginning to introduce yourself and listen to a tender and unexpected: “Goodmorning miss or teacher.” At that moment you are stunned, because never in your life have they called you that. However, the minutes pass and you get to know a little more about these innocent beings that all they want is to get ahead despite the different situations that are presented to them.

With regard to the mothers, it is very important to work with them, to give them that emotional support that they often do not have, and thereby discover that they always have to be strong in front of their children, but that in their hearts they have many worries and sometimes they do not know what to do…

Starting by knowing them via phone call and that in the blink of an eye they become friends, to support them and make them smile, to be their confidant in those moments of darkness and that they are also the ones who teach us the value of love. The accompaniment of parents and children is supposed to have a clear and trustful communication, in which emotions, feelings, thoughts and ideas are expressed that allow us to know each other and establish bonds that nourish us as humans, and we understood that not only children learn if not that we too, values such as honesty, responsibility, sincerity, respect, commitment and above all optimism and motivation to achieve and fulfill your dreams.

Finally, we want to deeply thank Intiwawa, for giving us the opportunity to be part of this wonderful team that, despite the current circumstances, does a great job to eradicate the social gaps that exist in Arequipa, sharing values, motivation and commitment to all of us and our children. To be an Intiwawa volunteer is to learn daily and live constantly in amazement, a product of the accompaniment process that brings us great human learning.

The new way to take advantage of my holiday

At the end of the holidays and after finishing many successful projects for our children we want to give you a little insight into the dedicated work from two of our volunteers during the vacations. We are very happy and also proud that everything worked out fine and we could carry out everything according to the circumstances. Thank you Karla and Maria.

As we all know, the situation we are going through worldwide right now is worrying and has affected many aspects of our lives. From the beginning of the pandemic, it was a challenge to quit the face-to-face support for our children and adapt to virtual support. However, as an organization we have with great effort and commitment been able to break the distance barrier with remote personalized support for each of our little ones.

The start of our virtual workshops for this holiday period was an additional challenge, but with the same commitment, he went ahead. The person in charge of the workshop: “Botiquín Emocional”, who has been part of the team for a few months, shared with us that it is very gratifying to be able to transmit knowledge that is helpful for our children; In this case, her objective was to provide accessible and necessary tools to be able to understand and manage emotions, especially in this time of so much uncertainty. Another one of our workshops: “Speech”, focused on providing techniques to improve oral presentations and the ability of children to transmit information and ideas that serve them both academically and socially, also deepening the importance of communication. Finally two other workshops focused on recycled art and paper craft, which have undoubtedly allowed the little ones to let their imaginations fly and create wonders with it.

This new challenge has been a great learning for us as a team, as well as for the children and their families. Despite the situations beyond our control such as some cases of sick mothers who couldn’t help their children, the lack cell phone, internet or mobile signal or forgetting to do or send the “homework”, it has been possible to maintain contact, exchange information and also to finish the vacations with a presentation of our children of their final project for each workshop carried out successfully.

Finally, we want to thank Intiwawa, since despite the circumstances they have allowed us to be part of such a great team to work with for the Arequipeño children, giving our best to provide information, support and help to those who need it. , and complementing the activities of the little ones to make adaptation to this new reality a little less difficult.

Karla Apaza
Maria Fernanda Portugal

Version Española:


Al final de las vacaciones y después de terminar muchos proyectos exitosos para nuestros niños, queremos darles una pequeña idea del trabajo dedicado de dos de nuestros voluntarios durante las vacaciones. Estamos muy contentos y también orgullosos de que todo salió bien y pudimos llevar a cabo todo según las circunstancias. Gracias a Karla y Maria.

Como sabemos, la situación que estamos atravesando a nivel mundial es preocupante y ha afectado muchos aspectos en nuestra vida. Desde el inicio de la pandemia fue un reto adaptar el trabajo de acompañamiento presencial a un acompañamiento virtual, pero como organización, hemos logrado con mucho esfuerzo y compromiso el trabajo remoto rompiendo la barrera de la distancia con un acompañamiento personalizado para cada uno de nuestros pequeños.

El aperturar talleres virtuales para este periodo de vacaciones fue un reto adicional, pero con el mismo compromiso salió adelante. La encargada de uno de los talleres, “Botiquín Emocional”, quien forma parte del equipo desde hace unos meses, comparte con nosotros que es muy gratificante poder transmitir conocimiento que sea de ayuda para los niños; en este caso, el objetivo fue dar herramientas accesibles y necesarias para poder entender y manejar las emociones, sobretodo en esta época de tanta incertidumbre. Otro de nuestros talleres fue el de “Oratoria”, enfocado en brindar técnicas para perfeccionar las presentaciones orales y la capacidad de los niños de transmitir información e ideas que les sirvan tanto en lo académico como en lo social, profundizando también en la importancia de la comunicación; y finalmente otros dos talleres enfocados al arte con reciclaje y paper craft, que sin duda alguna han permitido que los pequeños dejen volar su imaginación y logren crear maravillas con ella. 

Esta nueva etapa ha sido de gran aprendizaje tanto para nosotros como equipo, como para los pequeños y sus familias, ya que a pesar de las situaciones que escapan de nuestro control como algunos casos de madres enfermas que no pueden ayudar a sus hijos, la falta de celular, internet o la señal móvil, el poco tiempo en casa ya que dedican gran parte del día a trabajar, o el olvidar hacer o enviar la “tarea”, se ha logrado mantener un contacto en el cual se brinda e intercambia información, se realiza un reforzamiento con llamadas y se culmina con la presentación de un proyecto final por cada taller realizado con éxito.

Para finalizar, queremos agradecer a Intiwawa, ya que a pesar de las circunstancias nos han permitido formar parte de tan grandioso equipo para trabajar en favor de los niños Arequipeños, dando lo mejor de nosotros para brindar información, apoyo y ayuda a aquellos que lo necesiten, y complementando las actividades de los pequeños para hace un poco menos difícil la adaptación a esta nueva realidad.

Karla Apaza, Maria Fernanda Portugal

Easy Trips for Volunteers – An Adventure Week in Cusco

After not being able to welcome any new Volunteers in almost a Year Intiwawa is more than happy to start working with international volunteers on site again soon. Already in march or April traveling will hopefully be possible again. Volunteering with Intiwawa and living in Arequipa for a while also gives you the opportunity to discover more places that are easily to reach, maybe before, after or during your stay. To prepare you not only for your work for Intiwawa but also your travels to South America in general I want to tell you about my Trip to Cusco.

Going to Cusco and its surroundings isn’t only a must-see in Peru or Southamerica but also a super easy trip for beginners, in case you’re afraid of traveling through the continent or even travel by yourself. You can use Cusco as a base to visit all the beautiful places around it. And there is a whole bunch of them and as many ways how to get there. That’s why I can only tell you what we did and how it suited best for us.

We took a night bus from Arequipa to Cusco, which is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to go. Arriving in Cusco in the morning gave us a full day in the city. We used our time to book some tours for the following days and do some sightseeing. Accommodationwise, we’ve only reserved a room for one night in advance, as we weren’t sure, which nights we would actually spend there.

The City of Cusco

Some people fall in love with Cusco and could stay there for a week and even though the town is really pretty, we found that one day was really enough to get an impression. After the main plazas we had a look at San Blas. San Blas is the creative and artistic part of Cusco and it’s really worth it to enter all the cute little shops.

Typcial Stores

Due to the exhausting bus ride we got tired really fast and went to bed early to be ready for our first tour. One of the main reasons to go to Cusco is, of course, Machu Picchu. Many people decide on a three to five-days hiking-trip but as trekking isn’t completely our thing, same with an expensive one-day-train-trip, we chose the three-day-Inka-jungle. And this was the perfect choice.

The first day led us to the highlands behind Ollantaytambo, where we startet mountainbiking for 50km and 3000m downhill. Going down, the landscape changed really fast into the rainforest, which we weren’t really aware of before, but yes, going to the Machu Picchu includes an adventure in the jungle.

After lunch (all the meals were provided) the activities continued and we went rafting in the Rio Urubamba, which later leads to the Amazonas. That was really fun but all the impressions were tiring as well, so we were really happy to fall into our beds in Santa Teresa that night.

Adventures moved on next morning and we went to a ziplining-pacour, that existed out of six different ziplines, with which you flew over or right into the jungle, one suspension bridge as well as one rockclimbing station. Having done all those fun things, we couldn’t avoid having to walk. We were dropped off in Hidroelectrica from where we had to follow the train rails for 2,5hours.

Vertical Zip Line
Walking by the Trainrails

Spending the night in Aguas Calientes, the Machu Picchu village, we were ready for the highlight on the last day. We had to get up at four to be early enough. If you don’t want to take a bus, the way to the top consists of 1500 Inka steps, it was a collective suffering but as always: it was definitely worth it.

Arriving at the peak of one of the world wonders it was completely covered in clouds. The guide told us, that it was normal, so we waited for two more hours before the fog suddenly cleared up and in this magical moment we got to see the ruins for the first time, wow! Although this place is really really touristy, is has something special to it. It’s this mixture between stunning history and a crazy surrounding, that takes your breath away.

The rest of the day was rather unspectacular, we had to walk all the way back and took the bus back to Cusco. And although we had decided, that we didn’t like trekking, our step counter counted almost 30.000 steps that day.

Luckily, we could sleep in the next morning, as the tour we booked only started in the afternoon. We decided to leave out other sights in the Sacred Valley and booked a Quadbike tour to the Salineras de Maras. Suiting our adventurous week, this was the perfect thing to do and so incredibly much fun! After driving through some traditional and poor villages and feeding some alpacas, we arrived at the salt mines. For some reason, nobody really wants to know, there’s a stream of warm water coming out of the mountain, that contains three times more salt than the ocean. The Inkas used this water to harvest salt by creating over 4000 little pools where it evaporates with the sun to become salt. This place is really impressive and you can get your beloved ones some salty presents.

Salineras de Maras

Coming to an end, there was the trip’s last highlight waiting for us. Having already seen some places in the jungle as well as some historical Inka sights, this one was more of a nature one: We were going to the “Montaña de siete colores”, the Rainbow Mountain! This crazy creation of mother nature can be found at over 5000m above sea level, that’s why you should acclimatize in Cusco first before going in such hights. Luckily, we didn’t struggle with altitude sickness at all as you have to walk for 1h each way, getting really steep at the end. You can also choose to ride a horse up there for 80 soles. I did not regret it but wouldn’t do it again as the job seemed to be really stressful for the horses.

The views on the way up there as well as on the top were priceless, whenever the clouds disappeared for a second, they revealed a whole bunch of beautiful colours. It is not only the famous picture of the Rainbow Mountain itself but rather the panoramic sight of all the directions, that make it so special.

Later that day, we recharged ourselves and our phones in a restaurant and took the nightbus back to Arequipa. This trip is a perfect get-away as you can also make it shorter or longer by choosing your own favourite sights to visit.  

And one last tip for your perfect trip: Don’t book the tours in advance and know what they should cost. We met people on the same tour that paid for times our price. We paid 150USD for the Inka jungle and around 160 soles for the rest.

The Beauty in Southamerica’s Nature

Between extremes – jungle, glaciers and deserts

Volunteering with Intiwawa not only gives you the opportunity to get to know the Peruvian culture but also other southamerican countries either before, after or even during your stay in Arequipa. Having traveled through this wonderful continent for several months, I tried to sum up the most breathtaking places for you. Due to Latinamerica’s diversity and mixture between vivid megacities, stunning landscapes and interesting historical landmarks, I separated our highlights into different topics.

8. Titicaca Lake

Titicaca Lake is the world’s highest navigable lake and can be found at the boarder between Bolivia and Peru. It contains several ancient islands, some of them are called floating island as they are simply made out of reed. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to discover the lake’s real beauty: in the sunlight the water turns into a deep blue colour and if the sight is good enough you will see the Andes in the background, wow!

7. Vulcano Villarrica

This volcano stands for every volcano in Southamerica. In ancient beliefs volcanoes were seen as warriors while mountains represented beautiful women. Visiting this continent you should definitely climb one of these warriors, as they shape the majority of the picture of the Andes. I chose this active volcano in Chile, and even though it was one of the most exhausting things I had ever done in my life, it was completely worth it. The view inside the crater is absolutely stunning and maybe you’ll even be able to catch some magma.

6. Geyser Sol de Manana

I visited this geyser on our Jeeptour in Bolivia. It is over 5000m high, but that isn’t the only thing that will take your breath away. Other than most of the geysers this one doesn’t spit water, but mud. The sound, the smell and also seeing pieces of silt jumping out of the small craters are really disgusting at first. But for some reason you’ll discover a special beauty in that place looking at its strong colours, some are blue or green, one of them is even bright red

5. Salar de Uyuni

I don’t know a single travelguide that would leave out this salt flat when talking about Southamerica, deservedly so. You really don’t know what to say driving for hours straight and all you see is salt. You won’t even meet a single tourist, the expanse of this place is simply impressive. Don’t miss out on the sunrise on the Isla Incahuasi, where you’ll sit between hundreds of beautiful cactuses!

4. Iguazu Falls

Same with this highlight. Although it is pretty touristy you shouldn’t think about leaving it out. This waterfall system, that is shared between Brazil and Argentina, is the biggest in the world, as it contains around 280 single waterfalls. Being located in the rainforest you’ll also be able to spot some exotic animals and plants. This visit is an unique experience, as you’ll get wet, can barely talk because of the noise and see the masses of water running down the edges on which you are standing

3. Perito Moreno glacier

This glacier in Patagonia, southern Argentina, is one of the view glaciers left on earth that are still growing. By walking on different paths you can either get really close to this icy monster or get an overview of the whole scenery. You can also just find yourself a spot and observe the glacier, I promise, it won’t get boring. Due to its calving, big pieces of ice break and fall into the water making incredible noise, you will have the impression that it is a living creature.

2. Atacama desert

The Atacama desert in the north of  hile is the world’s driest desert, here you would need one year to fill a small cup of water with rain. Knowing this you’ll expect a Sahara-like desert only made out of sand, but it is so much more diverse. You can find volcanoes, lagoons, geysers, valleys of rocks and last but not least the clearest night sky in the world. Don’t miss out on an astronomic tour, especially when you’re from the northern hemisphere, you’ll discover stars and galaxies that you cannot see at home.  

1. Torres del Paine

At the other end of Chile you can find this impressive Nationalpark, that I still can’t believe it’s true. It’s famous for its three remarkable mountain peeks, the ‘Torres’, but even though they aren’t always visible, this park has so much more to offer. There are four different micro climates and due to the strong wind, the weather changes crazily rapidly. Honestly, I’ve never experienced a wind like this: Busses started shaking and sometimes you couldn’t even stand straight anymore. Next to the glaciers and the cute guanacos, they belong to the family of the llamas, that can be found everywhere, the most stunning thing for me were the lakes. Made out of water from the glaciers, every lake has their own tone of colour, but all of them are so bright and almost artificial blue, that you’d believe you’re part of a picture in a travel magazine that writes about some paradise oceans. A must-see in Southamerica!

What’s good to know before you go

Southamerica might be a completely new world for most of us when coming to this continent for the first time. You’ll get used to it really fast, though, and knowing some things, some are necessary some are only recommendations,  before you leave will definitely make it easier:

  1. The most important thing is to not be afraid! Some people and books create an impression of this really dangerous continent, it is not, at least if you follow the most simple rules like not taking a cab when it is dark outside, carrying your personal belongings in a fanny bag, avoid the more risky parts of city (like everywhere else) but most crucially, don’t loose your common sense! If you trust your good judgment, you’ll be safe most of the time.
  2. Depending on where you’re from you will have to get used to a different mentality. Everything will be more relaxed, everything works slower, don’t worry that much, just go with it, maybe it’s good for you, too, to leave the stressful environment at home.
  3. In case you plan on traveling around, pack light and functional! You won’t need that many clothes, and especially nothing uncomfortable. Be prepared to layer as the weather can change really fast some times.
  4. Coming from more western countries, we always assume that the price we’re told to pay for something is fix. It’s not. Most of the time, especially because you will look like a tourist, there’s space to bargain: with taxi drivers or tour guides. But attention, it is inappropriate to negotiate the price of food!
  5. Talking about touristic tours: don’t book them online and in advance, it will be significantly more expensive! Just go to that place and visit some tour operators. Do some research on how much a tour like this should cost, we’ve been on tours where we’ve paid a fourth of what other people had to pay!
  6.  Looking for accommodations, I would always go for AirBnBs. If you’re not alone, it is really cheap but most importantly, you get to live like the locals, which brings you closer to the culture.
  7. If you haven’t already noticed, buses are the way to get around, but they work differently than at home. Basically, they stop whenever you want them to stop, no matter if you want to get on the bus or get off. It can be confusing at times, you may always find the right bus to use but you never know when to get off. That’s why I’d recommend you to download an offline map (I was incredibly happy with maps.me), so that you can follow along.
  8. A great way to save some money is changing of where and what you eat. Many restaurant have special promotions, if you follow those, it will be way cheaper. But especially, don’t shy away from food trucks or old ladies cooking in the streets. I had my best and most traditional meals eating at places like this, sometimes for not even 1€!
  9. You cannot throw the toilet paper into the toilet!!! And you should always carry some with you, as it’s not provided everywhere.
  10.  And one last recommendation for all the German volunteers: In case you don’t have a credit card yet, go for the DKB Visa. You can use it everywhere without having to pay fees for the card itself. Once you’ve arrived in Arequipa, there are banks that won’t charge you anything with this card!

IntiWawa and Universities, a love-story explained through Darwin and Robinson’s experiences


IntiWawa gives the opportunity to carry out unpaid internships in the different areas that the organization offers.

On this occasion, two Colombian interns shared with us their wonderful experience with IntiWawa, in the beautiful Peruvian territory. It is worth highlighting that they were able to contact the organization through a macro cooperation agreement with the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia. This agreement was initiated thanks to Darwin’s interest, one of the interns, who heard about the Organization thanks to a former volunteer who used to work with IntiWawa through AIESEC. They noticed that the area and missions of IntiWawa were very relevant for the students from the undergraduate program of Planning and Social Development. They saw the opportunity of a partnership between the two institutions to further internships for the students. To do this, they underwent a selection process and the protocol management at the University. The latter approved the mobility and resources for more students, to have the opportunity to live their experience in Peru together with IntiWawa. We will now go deeper into the experience of each one.

“Many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world” Eduardo Galeano

Let’s see the experience of Darwin Hoyos Palacio, who is 26 years old. Besides his student’s life in planning and social development, he also works as a social and youth leader in the municipality of Entrerrios – Antioquia. That’s why he feels so close to the quotation from the journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano.

His experience in Peru began on November 7, 2019 and can be divided into two main moments. First, when he used to live with most of the Intiwawa international volunteers for 2 months. Then, when he decided, in January, to live and work in a hostel as a volunteer, in order to get economic support to be able to extend his stay in Peru.

At IntiWawa, he has contributed in different areas and projects, related to the fundraising area. He has worked on the establishment of an inter-institutional cooperation project with the Katari Hotel and helped for the ‘Madres Luchadoras” project, so that they could get an income for their work. In December, he was also the coordinator of the Christmas Party in San Isidro, Mollebaya and Coporaque in the Colca Canyon, while supporting the realization of the tournament and barbecue for the IntiWawa fundraising.  He recently supported the project to take the Intiwawa children to Cineplanet. 

Lessons learned and contributions from the experience

This experience enabled him to fulfill his personal and professional development and get out of his comfort zone. He also learned to cook and to get more self-esteem. Visiting the communities where IntiWawa operates also enabled him to face and understand the reality of others societies, to draw conclusions and later to re-use and apply these learnings in Colombia.

About Peru

Regarding Peru and Arequipa, he adapted easily as it is a similar culture that in Colombia, he just faced difficulties at the beginning with some specific words. He considers Arequipa as a beautiful, safe, peaceful and very cultural city. He visited several places in Arequipa and other Peruvian cities such as Cuzco.


Darwin told us an anecdote regarding the length of his stay and budget. Initially, he only planned to stay until January 30, 2020, but since he ran out of money to support himself in January, he decided to work as a volunteer in a hostel and thus be able to extend his stay until March. This personal choice drove his experience much more rewarding.

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Darwin during San Isidro’s Christmas

About IntiWawa

He thinks that IntiWawa is a very well-structured organization with a high social impact thanks to the different projects. He has a huge admiration for the structure and all the persons he worked with or for. He got along with most of the members and learned a lot from them. He confided that he found it difficult to communicate with some volunteers sometimes, since most of them come from Europe and their common language is English -a language he used to struggle  with at the beginning, but finally it helped him to improve his skills.


“Travel, because travel opens up horizons and expands your mind…” Robinson

Now, let’s see Robinson Rúa Gómez’s experience and expectations. He is 27 years old, and has worked with the NGO Niñez, has a 4 year old son and sees this as an experience of personal growth as well as academic and professional development. His peruvian experience began on February 3, 2020. He decided to stay in a hostel where he also works as a volunteer to obtain lodging and economic support.

He is currently working on generating alliances with the municipalities’ mayors to expand the impact of IntiWawa in the communities, and helping in the planning of events and forums where children’s scenarios are played. He also works with the Parent’s School and with groups for young people, to generate continuous processes to help them seek working life, while  working in their future projects, goals and dreams to fulfill. Likewise, he is working on the sustainability project to obtain sponsorship for families, to take advantage of the fact that IntiWawa is a German NGO based in Peru and to be able to obtain monthly contributions from foreigners in order to generate more resources and have a greater reach for the communities. As he has previous experience working with vulnerable communities, this new experience has shown him that there is still work to do in Latin America.

About Peru

He thinks that Peru is a wonderful country, just as Arequipa since it is a very cultural place. This city has allowed him to generate bonds with foreigners, to carry out cultural exchange and have an other vision compared to other countries. When he climbed the Misti volcano, he met four communities in Arequipa not very known and since this day he enjoys a lot the city and its culture.


Robinson tells us that when he climbed the Misti volcano, he felt that he was overcoming his body fatigue and managed to connect mind and body. Besides, this experience helped him realize that he is stronger than he thought.

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Robinson on his journey through the Misti volcano


He has very high expectations for this trip and all this adventure, he believes it will be a very enriching professional experience for his resume, thanks to the reputation of the organization. In addition, he considers that being a volunteer and being able to give happiness to people without expecting anything in return is very rewarding for his personal growth. Sometimes he has very intense days so he has become more organized with his time. He hopes that this experience will help him have a broader vision of reality, understand other contexts, have the opportunity to learn other languages, and in addition to learn a lot, also be able to contribute much.

About IntiWawa

He sees IntiWawa as an organization with good intentions and very good people, kind and helpful. He believes that there is a lot to do and a lot to contribute on a professional level. He appreciates the independence that he has been given to carry out his work, the good communication with the directors and the property that they have given him to make decisions and to execute his projects in the best way.

As we saw before, IntiWawa is an excellent organization that allows you to live a wonderful personal and professional experience in Peru, so come and join us! You won’t regret it! 


IntiWawa ofrece la oportunidad de realizar pasantías o prácticas no remuneradas en las diferentes áreas que posee la organización.

En ésta ocasión dos practicantes colombianos nos compartieron su maravillosa experiencia con IntiWawa en el hermoso territorio peruano. Es de anotar que ellos pudieron contactarse con la organización por medio un convenio de cooperación macro con el Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, dicho convenio se inició gracias al interés de Darwin, uno de los practicantes, quien conoció de la organización por una voluntaria que trabajó con IntiWawa por medio de  AIESEC, ellos notaron que la labor de IntiWawa era muy pertinente para que los estudiantes del programa de pregrado de Planeación y Desarrollo Social realizaran sus prácticas profesionales y vieron una oportunidad de alianza entre las dos instituciones, para ésto se sometieron a un proceso de selección y una vez realizada la gestión protocolaria en la Universidad, ésta aprobó la movilidad y los recursos para que más estudiantes tuvieran la oportunidad de vivir su experiencia en Perú junto con IntiWawa.  A continuación ahondaremos en la experiencia de cada uno.

«Mucha gente pequeña, en lugares pequeños, haciendo cosas pequeñas, puede cambiar el mundo» Eduardo Galeano

Primero veremos la experiencia de Darwin Hoyos Palacio quien tiene 26 años y además de ser estudiante de planeación y desarrollo social, también se desempeña como líder social y juvenil en el municipio de Entrerríos – Antioquia, por eso se ve muy identificado con la frase del periodista y escritor Eduardo Galeano

Su experiencia en Perú inició el 7 de Noviembre de 2019 y se ha dividido en dos momentos; primero cuando residía con la mayoría de voluntarios internacionales de IntiWawa, estuvo ahí por dos meses, posteriormente, desde el mes de Enero decide vivir y trabajar en un hostal como voluntario para obtener un sustento económico y así poder prolongar su estadía en Perú.

En IntiWawa ha aportado en diferentes áreas y proyectos, actualmente se encuentra en el área de recaudación de recursos; ha trabajado en la gestión de un proyecto de cooperación interinstitucional con el hotel Katari y el proyecto “Madres Luchadoras” para que ellas obtengan un ingreso económico por su trabajo,en diciembre también fue coordinador de la Navidad en San Isidro, Mollebaya y Coporaque en el cañón de Colca, a la par apoyó la realización del torneo y parrillada para la recaudación de fondos de IntiWawa y recientemente apoyó la gestión para llevar a los niños de IntiWawa al cine en conjunto con Cineplanet.

Aprendizajes y aportes de la experiencia

Está experiencia le ha aportado mucho tanto para su desarrollo personal como profesional, le ha hecho salir de su zona de confort, ha aprendido a cocinar y también le ha hecho valorar más lo que tiene en Colombia; visitar las comunidades que interviene IntiWawa le ha servido para entender la realidad de otras sociedades, aprender sobre estas y así mismo tener motivación para aportar lo máximo posible y más adelante llevar estos aprendizajes a Colombia y aplicarlos.

Sobre Perú

Respecto a Perú y Arequipa, se adaptó fácilmente ya que son culturas similares a la de Colombia, sí tuvo algo de dificultad con algunas palabras al principio pero con el pasar del tiempo se han adherido a su vocabulario. Considera que Arequipa es una ciudad hermosa, segura, tranquila y muy cultural, ha conocido varios atractivos turísticos en Arequipa y en otras localidades como Cusco.


Darwin nos cuenta una anécdota respecto al tiempo de su estadía y presupuesto, ya que inicialmente sólo pensaba quedarse hasta el 30 de enero de 2020, pero dado que se quedó sin dinero para sostenerse el mes de enero, decide trabajar como voluntario en un hostel y así poder prolongar su estadía hasta marzo, éste suceso ha hecho su experiencia mucho más gratificante.

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Darwin y su intervención en la Navidad de San Isidro

Sobre IntiWawa

Piensa que IntiWawa es una organización muy bien estructurada y qué tiene alto impacto con sus diferentes proyectos, es una institución que admira mucho, se lleva bien con la mayoría de sus integrantes y ha aprendido mucho de ellos, nos cuenta que se le dificultó un poco la comunicación con algunos voluntarios, ya que en su mayoría provienen de Europa y su idioma en común es el inglés, idioma que no dominaba mucho al principio pero destaca que ésta experiencia le ha ayudado a mejorar sus habilidades.

«Viaja, porque viajar te abre horizontes y expande tu mente…» Robinson

Ahora veremos la experiencia y las expectativas de Robinson Rúa Gómez, él tiene 27 años, ha trabajado con la ONG Niñez, tiene un hijo de 4 años y ve esto como una experiencia de crecimiento personal además de académica y profesional. Su experiencia en Perú inició desde el 3 de febrero de 2020, decidió hospedarse en un hostel en el que también trabaja como voluntario para obtener hospedaje y sustento económico.

Actualmente está trabajando en generar alianzas con las alcaldías de las municipalidades para ampliar el impacto de IntiWawa en las comunidades, ha ayudado en la planeación de eventos y foros en donde se tocan escenarios de niñez. También ha trabajado con la escuela de padres y con grupos procesos con jóvenes, que trata de generar procesos continuos en el tiempo para el desarrollo, la preparación para la vida laboral de dichos jóvenes, además de trabajar en sus proyectos a futuro, metas y sueños a cumplir. De igual manera, está trabajando en el proyecto de sostenibilidad para conseguir patrocinio para las familias, aprovechar que IntiWawa es una ONG alemana radicada en Perú y poder obtener aportes mensuales de extranjeros y así generar mayores recursos y tener un mayor alcance para las comunidades. Como ha tenido experiencia previa de trabajo con comunidades vulnerables, esta nueva experiencia le ha rectificado que todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer en Latinoamérica.

Sobre Perú

Piensa que Perú es un país maravilloso y sobretodo la ciudad de Arequipa ya que es un lugar muy cultural, que le ha permitido generar vínculos con extranjeros, lo que le ha permitido realizar intercambio cultural y tener otra visión respecto a otros países. Hasta el momento ha escalado el volcán Misti, ha conocido cuatro comunidades de Arequipa que no muchos conocen y disfruta mucho de la ciudad y su cultura.

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Robinson en su travesía por el volcán Misti


Robinson nos cuenta que cuando escaló el volcán Misti, sintió que superaba el cansancio corporal y logró conectar mente y cuerpo, además, ésta experiencia le sirvió para darse cuenta de que es más fuerte de lo que pensaba.


Tiene las expectativas de éste viaje y toda ésta aventura muy altas, cree que será una experiencia profesional muy enriquecedora para su hoja de vida, gracias al renombre de la organización, además, considera que el hecho de ser voluntario y poder dar felicidad a las personas sin esperar nada a cambio es muy gratificante para su crecimiento personal. A veces tiene días muy intensos por lo que se ha vuelto más organizado con su tiempo, espera que ésta experiencia le ayude a tener una visión más amplia de la realidad, entender otros contextos, tener la oportunidad de aprender otros idiomas, además de aprender mucho, también poder aportar mucho.

Sobre IntiWawa

Piensa que IntiWawa es una organización con buenas intenciones y muy buenas personas, amables y serviciales. Cree que hay mucho por hacer y mucho por aportar a nivel profesional, agradece la independencia que le han dado para llevar a cabo su trabajo, la buena comunicación con las directivas y la propiedad que le han brindado para la toma de decisiones y ejecutar sus proyectos de la mejor manera.

Cómo pudimos observar anteriormente IntiWawa es una excelente organización que permite vivir una experiencia maravillosa en Perú, así que anímate y únete a la grandiosa labor de IntiWawa.


Exploring Bolivia for One Week

I never really had Bolivia as a travel destination on my mind, but after hearing only good feedback of other volunteers and having to leave the country anyway to extend our visa, we decided to spend one week there. After staying one night on the island Amantaní on Lake Titicaca, we went for two nights to La Paz and took another overnight bus to Uyuni to do a tour through the Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) to see the salt desert, flamingos and take a bath in hot springs.

Just click on the video to see more of what to do in Bolivia!