On August 15, 2007, at approximately 5:13 PM local time, on what had been a weekday like any other, the earth began to tremble beneath the feet of the inhabitants of Pisco, a small city on the Pacific coast of Peru some 235 kilometers south of Lima, the capital. Situated near the Nazca tectonic fault line, tremors are a relatively commonplace here; little did they know this was the beginning of a devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake that would change their lives forever. Over 80 % of homes were destroyed, thousands were injured and more than 500 people lost their lives. Many NGOs and international disaster-relief organizations came to provide aid and support reconstruction efforts in the days and months following the disaster. A year later, however, virtually every one of these organizations’ funds had been exhausted, forcing them to withdraw their personnel and resources and suspend all efforts to rebuild the community.
Yet Harold Zevallos Salas, a local Pisqueño, his sister, Carolina, and a handful of international volunteers who had been working with Burners Without Borders recognized the pervasive need for continued assistance all around them. Families were still living in crude housing made of cardboard, scrap wood, plastic tarps, and palm leaves. Sanitary conditions were dire; people lived on dirt floors and used a simple plastic bucket as a toilet. Unwilling to abandon the city while it was most vulnerable, Harold led these bold few to continue the arduous work that remained. They borrowed some basic tools from supportive neighbors – blunt pick-axes, worn shovels, a wobbly wheelbarrow, a couple of hammers – and got to work. As the local government was providing families with basic building materials, they provided those most desperate with the manual labor needed to rebuild their homes. They knocked down damaged walls, hauled rubble, dug trenches, poured cement and laid brick – one project at a time. And thus, Pisco Sin Fronteras was born the day after the first anniversary of the earthquake: August 16, 2008.
Slowly but surely, as word spread of the work that continued in Pisco, more and more volunteers joined the cause and contributed to the sustained life of our organization. In the years since, PSF has seen unprecedented growth and evolved into an internationally-recognized volunteer organization that has not only made significant improvements to the living standards in the community, but also created timeless bonds between locals and volunteers from across the globe.
This video was created in April 2010 by two former PSF Volunteers, Jeff and Kelly and reflects much of the work being done at that time. Although PSF has continued to evolve in the years since and now contributes to a wider variety of projects designed to support sustainable development rather than disaster relief, it provides you with a clearer understanding of our origins and the nature of the organization.
PSF strives to improve people’s lives throughout the province of Pisco through reconstruction projects, community development initiatives and education. We endeavor to make a sustainable impact in every facet of our work by promoting community involvement and we seek to make a broader impact on the world by providing a unique environment where volunteers are empowered to realize their potential both personally and professionally.
Pisco Sin Fronteras envisions a community noticeably recovered from the 2007 earthquake with adequate housing, sanitation and social wellness through the support of volunteers from around the world. We hope to provide a platform for volunteers to gain valuable experience, limited only by their own drive and determination, which enriches their lives and the lives of those around them while building a stronger community.
Who We Are
PSF is a non-profit volunteer organization comprised of individuals from assorted backgrounds; volunteers’ ages range from 18 to 80, they have come from six continents and represent a plethora of religious and political beliefs. We embrace this unique diversity, which has proved to be a key contributor to volunteers’ personal growth during their service and has created many opportunities for volunteers to share their cultures with one another as well as the communities they serve. As an organization, however, PSF is strictly apolitical and does not promote any particular religious ideologies. PSF runs on the hard work of all our volunteers, whether they work on construction projects, community development initiatives or take on leadership roles through the PSF Management Team.
What We Do
Volunteers at Pisco Sin Fronteras may work on a variety of projects. Although the need for manual labor for projects serving those severely and directly impacted by the earthquake in 2007 has diminished, we maintain plenty of “get-your-hands-dirty” volunteering opportunities through an increasing number of projects designed to benefit entire communities: construction and refurbishing of community centers, schools, medical posts, and ecological parks, to name a few. While skilled volunteers with experience in construction are always encouraged to apply, we place strong emphasis on transfer of knowledge within the organization so that anyone can learn to lay brick, pour and level a cement floor, correctly use a circular saw, and much more.
For those who have brains as well as brawn, we provide numerous opportunities to get involved in direct support of the community through sustainable initiatives designed to create a lasting impact. We currently focus on three key program areas that are constantly in need of volunteer support:
These initiatives provide diverse opportunities for volunteers to gain experience working in community development through direct execution of projects and activities as well as getting involved in the extensive planning and coordination required for them to be successful. It is an excellent way to improve your Spanish and polish public speaking / presentation skills at the same time.
To learn more about these programs and some of the specific projects associated with each one, click on one of the titles above to be directed to the program description in the Community Development section of the Volunteering page.
PSF is an entirely volunteer-run non-profit. We rely on capable, responsible volunteers to take on leadership positions that are essential to the effective management and successful operation of the organization. Jobs on the PSF Management Team provide unparalleled opportunities to earn invaluable professional experience in an extraordinarily challenging environment. Throughout our brief history, many people have surpassed preconceived notions of their personal and professional capacities to accomplish incredible successes that have helped shape the organization as we now know it. These volunteers are of paramount importance to the continuous growth and improvement of PSF; they make a truly lasting impact on the community we serve by ensuring other volunteers have the tools they need to successfully execute projects each and every day.
The need for consistency and continuity in our management practices obliges us to require PSF Management Team volunteers undertake a minimum service commitment of three months. The following areas are central to our ability to reach our full potential:
- Office Administration
- Financial Management & Planning
- Organizational Accounting
- Fundraising & Grant Writing
- Volunteer Coordination & Recruitment
- Volunteer Wellness
- Marketing & Publicity
- Public Relations & Community Outreach
- Site Assessment
- Logistical Support
- Tools & Inventory Management
- Project Coordination
- Site Assessment
Click here for additional information and individual position descriptions.
Furthermore, both construction and community development projects require strong leadership from capable and committed volunteers. They must guide other members of their team