22 May Volunteer Blog Serena
I am Serena, I have a big passion for traveling and helping others with the best means I have. I am a Software Engineer at Salesforce.com which takes volunteerism at heart and allows their employees to go for a week to give back to this world.
I had the fortune to spend a week as a Volunteer at WAVES for Development in Lobitos, Peru, and here is my chance to reflect on it. I went to Peru with few expectations, an open mind and an open heart. I could not believe how much of a profound experience it was for me.
One needs to fly to Piura, take a 1 hour and half bus to Talara and a 30 min combi through a dried up river and a desert to arrive to Lobitos. Once you arrive to the WAVES house the immediate warmth of the WAVES stuff surrounds you and one can feel immediately at home.
WAVES has a tremendous impact on the community, well beyond the surfing aspect. WAVES provides FREE english classes to the elementary and middle school of Lobitos. English is a compulsory subject at school in Peru and WAVES takes the burden and cost to provide these very needed classes. My experience at a school was great. I was helping the English teacher (WAVES staff) Alicia, during her class. The kids were well behaved, eager to learn and take in as much as possible. It does really make you stop and think looking at those kids. Those kids might not have the greatest things in life, but are incredible happy and all smiley (an happiness that doesn’t come as close at what I see at kids in San Francisco where I currently resides). It really makes me wonder, if we are missing the point on how we should really live our lives.
I also helped Dominic on the site where the new volunteer house and WAVES Community Educational Surf Centre will be. I cherish that day. I had the most interesting architectural discussions I have ever had and learn lot from him. People like Dominic is what makes WAVES a great ngo.
The best day I had volunteering was during the surf class taught to the kids of Lobitos. Till this day, I think that was one of my best days in Peru and in general in my life. We all went down to the ocean with surf instructor Seth, Jackson, Alicia and myself with 8 kids (around 7-8 years of age). The excitement of these kids was palpable. At the beginning of the lesson the kids along with the WAVES staff went around the beach to pick up garbage and put in a bag that was properly disposed at the end of the class. In this way, the kids learn the importance of taking care of the environment. After giving a short lesson on land, Seth and Jackson took a board and a kid each and went into the ocean. Alicia and I were responsible to pick up the kids at the end of the surf. Some of those kids are not really good swimmers and it is fundamental for adults to be there to pick them up. One of the kids managed to catch the wave and stood up. He saw me at the end of the surf and instead of jumping in the water, jumped on me and I caught and hugged him. He couldn’t stop laugh (full of joy and life) and I couldn’t be more grateful for that moment.
WAVES also involves Lobitos teenagers in working in the surf shop. Some of them shoot pictures for surfers that come to Lobitos, some others, with the help of WAVES, are becoming certified surf instructor and some others, after learning to surf thanks to WAVES, became so talented that even are participating on local and national surfing event sponsored by WAVES.
WAVES also helps improve living conditions for the inhabitants of Lobitos. They are helping with building their house floors. Increasing the level of hygiene in those houses. All these great work are an impact in Lobitos. The community loves WAVES volunteers and are extremely appreciative of their work. I went to wish goodbye to the family living opposite to the WAVES house (which also run a beer shop) and the old lady running the shop couldn’t stop hugging me and blessing me. One of those moment I will cherish forever too.
I left Lobitos with a sad heart but thankful to have met so many great people in such a short time. WAVES would not be possible without the incredible work of Dave, Tali,
Seth, Kate, Alicia, Jackson, Dominic. Truly incredible people that I feel privileged to have known.
If anyone reading this post is still wondering if go to Lobitos to volunteer, please I assure you, you won’t regret it, leave fear behind and go to Lobitos with an open heart and eager for adventure!