Women's Empowerment and International Development in Peru
Support the local community members of Cusco, including girls and women, to achieve their individual goals and those of their community.
Program Code: PECL0486P
Volunteer in Cusco
HomeProgramsWomen's Empowerment and International Development in Peru
Contribute to the achievement of several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the communities of rural areas surrounding Cusco. Support community initiatives that serve to empower local community members, including girls and women.
Participate in locally led sustainable development initiatives in communities surrounding Cusco. Work to support the goals of local youth and women as well as other community members. In the process, learn about how we can identify the most important needs of the communities..
Depending on the needs of the community at the time of your participation in the program, you might get involved in a range of activities such as supporting community associations related to rural tourism in business topics or providing English workshops, facilitating English lessons for professionals looking to work in the tourism sector, or supporting local business owners and entrepreneurs with creating more sustainable businesses. Volunteers might also get involved in environmental initiatives such as seasonal reforestation, lake clean ups, and environmental education workshops at local schools.
Communication with community members on this program is conducted in Spanish. If you are not fluent in Spanish, Spanish lessons will be required. These can be requested when you book onto the program. Simply speak to your Enrolment Manager to learn more.
Contribute directly to global impact goals.
Practice skills like intercultural communication, public speaking, and training which can be added to your CV.
Immerse yourself in traditional Peruvian culture.
Live and work with other GVI participants from around the world.
During your free time, on the weekends or after your volunteer program, you can visit some of the famous sites around Cusco including Machu Picchu.
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.
Life On Base
This project is a truly immersive Latin American cultural experience. Share a home with like-minded people from all over the world in the heart of Cusco, the stronghold of the Incan empire. In the evenings and on the weekends, walk the narrow alleyways with new friends among local Cusqueños.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
Lodgings for this program are in two apartments, located just five blocks from the Main Square of Cusco and boasting a great view of the city from the second and fourth floor. Each apartment sleeps six people in three rooms, with one bathroom, a living and dining room and a kitchen. Each room is equipped with electricity with Western-style toilets and hot water showers.
In the mornings breakfasts will be prepared by the volunteers, and on weeknights dinner will be served at the accommodation by a cook on staff. During project days, lunch could be prepared alongside the local community. On these days participants will have the opportunity to experience local food cooked in a traditional Peruvian manner. There are also many cafes and restaurants in the area allowing participants to sample Peru’s renowned cuisine.
Free wifi is available at the accommodation and at most restaurants, however, bear in mind that it might not be as fast or reliable as you might be used to in your home country. Our project sites are mainly rural which means that wifi and telephone signals here are limited.
Cusco is at 3800 meters above sea level so it is important to give your body time to adjust to the high altitude and follow our staff instructions while acclimating. There are several clinics and hospitals in Cusco. If there were to be a medical issue, GVI staff will ensure that affected participants are transported to the relevant facility depending on the nature and severity of the illness or injury.
Peru is famous for its unique and dramatic climate and Cusco, where our projects are based, is no exception. It is hot, sunny, and dry year round during the day and very cold but still very dry at night.
Health and Hygiene
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Cusco's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
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Meet the team - Senior Field Management
Meet Karol our Program Manager for GVI Cusco. She is from the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. Karol has done her studies in tourism and got her master's degree from Durham University.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Tourism in Peru has tripled between 2004 and 2017, growing from 1.4 million tourists to 4 million tourists annually. Many tourists come to the region to see Machu Picchu, easily Peru’s main attraction. On the other hand, Cusco still faces many issues within its population, for instance, the poverty rate is at 25,2% and the illiteracy rate in young people 15 or over is 12%. Tourism is bringing two main challenges to Cusco: the stress on its naturales resources, for example, Piuray lake, that supplies 40% of Cusco’s drinking water, and it is deepening the income gap between the indigeneous communities and the city.
The region of Cusco includes not only the more densely populated city but also the rural areas surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu. Half of Cusco’s population is rural and 45% of its active population is employed in agriculture.
GVI’s work is centred in supporting community development and preserving natural resources in the city and communities nearby Cusco. GVI works along with two main partners The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Centro Bartolomé de las Casas (CBC), these organizations help us to contribute the most urgent needs of the indigenous communities within Cusco and the most pressing issues surrounding the natural resources of the Piuray lake.
Participants will be guided by GVI and CBC staff to assist local community members with enhancing their economic opportunities through promoting responsible tourism and other initiatives.
The main UN Sustainable Development Goals include, #4 Quality Education, #6, Clean Water and Sanitation, #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, #13 Climate Action and #17 Partnership for the Goals.
Our Partners In Cusco
GVI Peru Long-term Objectives:
1. Creating greater awareness in the greater Cusco region of the importance of conserving the Piuray basin and Sacred Valley by using environmental education.
2. Facilitating the development of rural community ecotourism in the Piuray basin and Sacred Valley by supporting local community members to get involved.
3. Supporting local Cusco area community members in improving their English language, business, and life skills.
4. Contribute to improving the well-being of rural community members through local capacity building.
5. Supporting the development of green infrastructure in Piuray basin and Sacred Valley communities, including schools.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.
Health and Safety Training
Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.
Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
For All Participants at Cusco
Work Site Training
Instruction on the specific project objectives and skills necessary to carry out the required tasks.
Introduction To Peruvian Culture
Learn about the history of Peru and the particular customs including appropriate dress and topics of conversation.
GVI Online Community Development course (optional)
In this course, you'll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you'll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
Other Incan Sites
Cusco is at the heart of the Sacred Valley, and there are plenty of other Incan sites to visit including, Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Pisac, Puka Pukara, Moray, and Qenko.
Cusco is known as the gateway to Machu Picchu. There are many trails available for hikers of differing fitness levels. This is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Peru, therefore we recommend booking far ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
View the massive geoglyphs, symbols made using only rocks and the top layer of soil, make by the Nazca culture. The best views are afforded from the air, so be sure to rent a flight over Paracas National Reserve.
Huacachina desert oasis
A great day trip from Lima, is a visit to Huacachina, an oasis in the middle of the desert. Swim in the lake, relax on its shores, or sandboard the surrounding dunes.
Visit Peru’s capital, stroll the promenade sampling the city’s famous street eats or join the local surf cult hanging ten just off the edge of the capital’s limestone cliffs.
Visit the three city set between three volcanoes. The city has a unique culture different to any other throughout Peru. Hike nearby Colca Canyon to see the great condor in flight.
Experience the wonders of the Peruvian Amazon by traveling to the city of Iquitos and booking a canal tour.
The Reed Islands
Travel to Puno to learn how the local people make their own islands using reeds that float on one of the highest lakes in the world, Titicaca.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
January: In Cusco, The Adoration of the Kings, or honouring of the birth of the Christ child by the three kings, is celebrated with great fanfare.
April: Easter is celebrated for an entire week in Cusco and the local plaza fills up with celebrants.
May: Taking place in late May and early June, Quyllurit'i, celebrates the beginning of harvest season. Thousands of pilgrims arrive to watch the sun rise.
June: The Catholic festival of Corpus Christi is celebrated in June as well as the traditional Incan festival of Inti Raymi in honour of the sun god Inti.
July: The festival of the Virgin of Carmen, is celebrated for four day with traditional costumes and dances in mid July. Late July is when Peru celebrates their independence from the Spanish government.
August: The first day of August is Andean New Year, and is celebrate by building and burning altars of traditional foods.
September: In early September Catholics celebrate the birth of the mother of Jesus with Peru. The festival of Lord Huanca honours a local saint and a local Andean ceremony acts as an initiation ceremony for boys from the local community.
November: On the first few days of November, Catholics celebrate the Day of the Dead to honour their ancestors.
December: The Selling of the Saints, is a Christmas festivity unique to Cusco. On the day of Christmas Eve, a massive market of local goods is held in the local plaza.
Spirituality and Religion
Peru has a mostly Catholic population. However, communities still hold certain beliefs of the Inca religion. They honour the earth mother as well as local spirits.
Weaving and Pottery
The art of pottery and textile making is central to culture. Pottery and textiles are not only functional, everyday items, but are imbued with meaning by their makers. Learn about pottery and textile making at the foot of the masters, the women of the local community.
The Inca had many unique ways of preserving and cooking food. Communities still preserve some of these methods like cooking in an earth oven and freeze drying meat.
The community we work in grows their own food and farm alpacas using methods that date back to the time of the Inca. Here you can learn about how native crops, like potatoes and corn, are grown organically and used for food, medicine, and as dye for textiles. You can get involved in the process of planting, harvesting, and preparing food as well as the entire alpaca wool shearing and dye harvesting process.
There will be plenty of opportunities to learn and practice your Spanish language skills by engaging with people in the local community.
Once the capital of the Incan empire, Cusco was taken over by Spanish colonists in the 16th century, but much of the city’s Incan heritage is still visible. Many buildings are still supported by the one-of-a-kind sculpted stones unique to Incan architecture. Explore the city’s Incan heritage by visiting sites like the 12-angled stone, the Santo Domingo Convent built on the remains of the Inca Sun temple, the Plaza del Arms, and the Museo Inca.
Since you will be working in a rural traditional community outside Cusco, it is also important that you learn about some of the local customs and what is culturally appropriate. Upon arrival, we will start with a presentation about local culture, appropriate dress sense, and topics of conversation.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency desk
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)