Volunteering Information & FAQ

These are the questions we usually get asked by prospective volunteers so read on and hopefully you'll find out everything you need to know but if there's anything we haven't thought to answer please don't hesitate to email us and one of the members of the team will get back to you.

Why should I come and volunteer?
Volunteering is both rewarding and fun. You will get to meet a variety of interesting, like-minded people and be able to use your skills and energy to really make a difference to a community.

What sort of work will I be doing?
The focus of our work is reconstruction so you could be mixing and pouring concrete, clearing a site, brick laying, digging foundations,plumbing, painting or english teaching. We focus on the needs of the community working closely with local people to see what they need and to help them get back into their homes. Most of our projects at the moment are small and are started as a result of local people coming to our door to ask for help, we help families to get a new home, build community buildings and help out at the local schools. We are also involved in a project organising and teaching activities to the local  children and are starting to run english language workshops in the evenings. Although a year has passed there is still a lot of work to be done, with many families still living without adequate sanitation and living in tents or temporary homes.

How much does it cost?
We don’t charge a participation fee. All we ask is that volunteers contribute 15 soles (about $US5) per day which goes directly towards covering our operating costs and allows us to provide a place for you to stay and meals.

What about other costs?
You will need to budget for additional meals not provided by us, snacks, drinks etc. But total costs are difficult for us to estimate as it depends on your lifestyle, if you want to treat yourself to a nice meal out a simple "menu del dia" will cost around 6 or 7 soles, in a more upmarket restaurant you'll pay considerably more, a tuk tuk ride in to town costs 1.5 soles, a large beer from the shop 3.5 soles, a packet of cigarettes...you shouldn't be smoking :)!. A lot of our volunteers take time out to travel around at the weekend, maybe visit the oasis at Huacachina where you'll pay aprox 15-20 soles for a room and you'll pay tourist prices for food and drink or take a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands for around 40 soles.

What sort of people are you looking for?
We are looking for people who are enthusiastic, hard working, open minded and who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Any construction or trade skills are of course useful but all volunteers will be able to get stuck in, learn new skills and help to build something that will really change someone’s life. The minimum age to volunteer is 18.

Is there a minimum stay required?
No. You can come for just a couple of days or several months, and you don’t have to commit to a definite amount of time in advance. We just ask that you let us know your rough plans and then keep us in the loop so that we can plan our projects. Be warned a lot of people just come for a few weeks and this quickly turns into a few months!!!

What is a typical day?
We work Mondays to Fridays and a half day on Saturday. Every work-day morning we have a meeting at 8am to make any announcements and organise our day. Work will start between 8.30 and 9am. Lunch will be eaten at a local restaurant near your work site or will be provided by a local family or the community. The work day generally finishes around 4pm and dinner is eaten at our headquarters at 6pm.

Where do I stay?
Our headquarters is in San Pedro (Pisco-Playa) which is an area close to Pisco central. It is a small house with dormitory style accomodation with a shared bathroom with room for 8 people but we also have the volunteer house across the street which is a big 2 levels facility with 8 dormitories 7 bathrooms and room for 35 people, It  also has a big garden and facilities for washing your clothes. Please check the packing list below to ensure you have what you need to set yourself up comfortably.

Please be aware that our space is limited. But if we do not have space available, don't worry we'll be able to point you in the direction of one of the many hostels in the area where you can stay.

Not comfortable with our set-up?
If you would prefer to stay elsewhere, you are still welcome to volunteer with us during the day and be part of our volunteer community - the house is still your base for meals, meetings, hanging out, etc. Volunteer contributions will be 10 soles per day ($3.5). There are several accommodation options in the area ranging from $5USD for a dorm bed - $15USD for a single room and up from there.

What is the food like?
Breakfast is a do-it-yourself affair; we provide eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee. At lunch your Project Manager will either take you to a café near the work site or local families or community members will provide food. The cost of this isn’t covered by your contribution so you’ll need to budget additional money for this. Chicken, beef, and seafood feature prominently with the staples of potatoes, rice, and beans and there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available. Our resident cook prepares dinner at 6pm. There is also a large market that offers fresh and plentiful produce and prepared foods.

Do I need to be able to speak Spanish?
No. It is not a problem to us if you don’t speak any Spanish, however knowing at least the basics will make your stay a lot easier and more rewarding as you will be able to interact more easily with the local people and Spanish speaking volunteers.

How do I get there?
It is your responsibility to organise and fund your travel to Pisco. Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez (LIM) is the primary gateway into Peru. Flights vary in price and various different carriers fly into Peru, we recommend speaking to a travel agent or using a search facility on the web to find the best deal. You may have to spend one night in Lima. From there you will take a 4 hr. bus ride via Soyuz down to Pisco for 21 soles (about $7USD) and a then 15 min. cab ride to our house for 8 soles ($2.5). to our address at Asociacion San Pedro C-5 Pisco-Playa, and if any inconvenience please call the volunteer house on 056-534970 or Harold(our director) on 056-956354323.

What will the weather be like?
Pisco is in the desert; during the summer it is very hot during the day and the sun is extremely intense. The evenings and nights however are generally cooler and windy as well. During the winter, day time temperatures vary from being extremely hot and sunny to overcast and cold, in the evenings it will get cold so a hat and warm jacket or sweater would be advisable.  It doesn't really ever rain in Pisco.

Are there any health issues I should be concerned about?
Please read about all of the common infectious illnesses and ailments that accompany international travel. There are mosquitoes and their numbers rise when the weather warms up, so it would be a good idea to pack insect repellent and a mosquito net. The sun is intense and there is little cover, so it’s sensible to bring high factor sunscreen and a good hat. You will need to ensure you drink enough water during the day especially when you’re working hard so a water bottle is always useful.

Please read travel health advisories when deciding what immunisations and medical supplies to prepare. But we would advise that you ensure your tetanus is up to date. Again arm yourself with the knowledge available on the web and from the CDC, check with your doctor, and make your own decision. Please note that we do not carry insurance; volunteers should purchase travel insurance from a reputable agency and also check whether it will cover you for manual labour.

Women may want to consider bringing their own supply of tampons with them. They are generally unavailable, especially outside of Lima.

How safe is it?
Pisco is a disaster area and people have little. There have been some incidents of pick pocketing and mugging in the city as there are in many large cities in South America.  While in Pisco, you are advised to take taxis between locations and if you do walk, take very little money and keep it in a secure place. You should avoid wearing flashy jewellery or walking with an Mp3 player and, like most cities in the world, try and avoid looking like an opportunity for a thief.

Most local people are aware that international volunteers are working in Pisco and are genuinely friendly, helpful and, above all, grateful that you are here to help.

How do I call my Mother (or send email)?
Public Telefónica payphones can be operated with phone cards (widely available) or coins are readily available on the street. There is a modern internet café with Skype close to our Headquarters. And you can also use the phone at the volunteer house if you have your own card.

Can I buy a cell phone?
If you are planning a short stay in Peru, cell phone rental is available in the baggage claim area of the airport. These phones can be used to receive incoming calls. Outgoing calls are expensive, and text messaging is unavailable.

An unlocked mobile phone (available here) can be fitted with a locally purchased Peruvian SIM card (about $8USD) for pay-as-you-go service. Local and international calling and text messaging both work with this kind of prepaid service.

How should I bring my money?
There are ATM machines and moneychangers in the baggage claim area of the airport and ATMs in the central plaza in Pisco. Exchange rates at the airport ATMs and money changers are comparable to most banks. However it advisable to think about bringing something as a back up, cards get broken and can get lost, being without any money is not much fun!!

What about Visas?
Visitors from most countries do not need a visa to enter Peru. Upon arriving at Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez (LIM), you will be issued an Andean Immigration Card (at no charge) valid for 30 to 90 days, depending on what the immigration officer stamps into your passport. Keep this card; you may have difficulty leaving the country if you lose it.

If you plan to spend an extended period of time in Peru, please look into applying for a visa at a Peruvian embassy prior to your departure. You can get 30-day visa extensions once you are in the country, but may need to travel to Lima to obtain one and the visa fee will cost about $30USD.

If you are from a country that does need a visa to enter Peru you will need to research this and apply for the visa at your local embassy. As a small organisation we do not hold information on visas and do not unfortunately have the resources to assist you with this.

What should I bring?

  • Sleeping bag (bedding)
  • Mosquito net
  • Good work gloves
  • Sunscreen
  • Trail/work shoes
  • Passport + copies
  • Water bottle

Highly recommended:

  • Pillow, although you can purchase these from the market
  • Headlamp/torch
  • Personal items/toiletries
  • Credit cards
  • Cash
  • Insect Repellent
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Work shirts
  • Work Pants
  • 1 sweater or sweatshirt
  • 1 jacket

Remember, PACK LIGHT!

The electric power here is rated at 220V. Your appliances must be 110-220 capable. They use the two parallel flat pin plugs like the ones common in the USA.

What can I bring, as a donation, if I have extra room?
As a new organisation there are tools and supplies that we need and it would be great if you would consider a donation from our wishlist (its on the website). Please also consider making a general donation, which will be used to directly fund the projects we’re working on. We also appreciate you sharing your experience with us and asking your friends and family for donations from back home! 100% of donations go to the direct action in Peru.

What if I forget stuff?
You can buy most anything you need in Lima; it is a large, modern city. Shopping is an interesting experience at the public market here in Pisco, but it’s a lot less hassle for you (and us) if you bring it with you.

What now?

If you do want to join us in Pisco you can either email us at info@piscosinfronteras.org or fill out our volunteer application form. Unfortunately as a small organisation we cannot accept reservations more than 6 weeks in advance. But just email us nearer the time you wish to volunteer and we can then make the reservation. Once we have confirmation of the date of your arrival we will also send you all the information you need to get started.


Anything else I need to know?

It will be dirty, hard work. And that is why we love it! The reward of making a huge impact and witnessing the deep appreciation on the faces of each Peruvian family we help far outweighs any potential negative experience. It is only through a steady stream of our wonderful volunteers that we are able to accomplish so much. Please also go to our Blog page to read what some of our past volunteers have to say about their time in Pisco. 

Volunteer now!