VOLUNTEER in PERU is Possible
You got there before I had a chance (or perhaps I was being slow) in announcing your arrival.
It is Bruce here, and I am still in Trujillo - as anounced in an earlier comment. It is I, not Darren, who am 63. Buying school uniforms represents only a tiny part of our service to really poor children - and we do spend our time in the barrios and out of town: not in public schools. Pity you didn't go with the volunteers to where we work - there you would have encountered the lice and smelly bodies. But you would apparently rather look at where the volunteers live (which has to be in a safe part of town), and only imagine what they must be doing - in fact each morning they go to the dangerous part of town to deal with the children who live where tourists don't get to.
Here's an explanation I had to give to someone the other day (someone we are trying to get furniture from for our shanty class rooms), someone who - like you - dismissed what we do because he had never been and was unwilling to go to where we actually do our work:
Thank you for your reply, and especially for asking your Trujillo director to assess our needs in Trujillo. We look forward to our next contact with him. We would also like to ask you to revisit the subject of possibly donating furniture to our Lima and Cusco satellite centres.
Thank you too for pointing out the deficiency in our web site, if it left you with the impression you express in your last email.
Permit me to try to clarify our work and the need for it. -
Our main activity is to go into the poorest communities and there locate children of school age who are not enrolled in school. This is the easy part, because there are lots of them.
- Most common reason is extreme poverty. Even though Peru's schools are "free", there is still the cost of registration, uniforms, transport, school materials and events fees = S/380 a year (national average); and for a family with virtually no income this is too much: so their children do not get enrolled in school.
- Second most common reason is the low priority some parents place on education. Illiterate parents, recently migrated from the countryside, are concerned with shelter and food. And when they end up in a community where most of their neighbours are from the same background and in the same condition as they: there is no peer pressure to get their children educated. And if their childrens' births are unregistered, then the law which requires all children to attend school does not apply to their children: because in the eyes of the state their children do not exist.
- Third most common reason is abandonment. This does not mean that the children do not sleep in the same place as their mothers, it means that during the day they are completely on their own - she is somewhere else - they must find their own food, or the money to buy it; and they receive no parental guidence, love, discipline, control: the street is their mother.
- Forth most common reason is parental abuse. Many children are made to work instead of attending school - usually in common labor, street vending, begging, petty crime, even in the sex trade. Or the parents' own background as battered children, or their adictions and frustrations are vented on their own children; they are violent and hateful toward them: unconcerned with their welfare, education. -
What do we do for these children and their families?
With the support and participation of local community leaders, our Peruvian social workers (helped by volunteers) sell them on the idea that getting educated is important, necessary and fun. We offer them our help in accomplishing this. It is an easy sell, except in cases where the family's only income is earned by the childrens'labor. And too often we only have the children themselves to make our case to, because the parents are unavailable (such parents eventually do turn up - when they think there might be something in it for them).
When we have enough children signed up, we open a Children's Centre in their community. We higher a local director (usually one of the community leaders, usually an unemployed teacher), one of our Social Workers or volunteers familiar with our programme serves as the co-director. The property for the centre is usually provided by the community, a member of the community or we rent it.
By this time we have a group of parents and members of the community who are working together with us and sharing the responsibility of getting their children educated. Yesterday in alta Trujillo the parents built two class rooms in someones'back lot with materials we provided - we had volunteers there to help them, but the parents wanted to do it themselves. They don't have money to give toward their childrens' education, but they want to give what they do have. This week end the mothers of the children in our first Children's Centre in Lima will paint the rooms of the simple house we are using. It was their idea.
The children and our volunteers and staff turn up at the centres at 9:AM. Often the children's mothers arrive carrying tables and the children carrying chairs from their own homes; and when they finish they will return with this furniture. The local director brings the school materials we have provided, and we begin teaching the children. From late November through March we concentrate on children young enough to enter first or second grade in normal schools, but who had no chance on their own of enrolling, for one of the above mentioned reasons. We teach them basic alphatization and math - spicing this up with art, music and sports provided by our international volunteers. We also teach them group discipline and behavior and hygene. Our volunteers arrive from the city each morning with a packed lunch: sandwiches, fruit and fresh drinks. Our doctors visit and either treat them or get them into the local medical post (which we pay for), and our nurses treat their parasites and sarna. Our Psychologist deals with each child (and usually has to work more with the parents than the children).
During this time our social workers are getting the children's documentation (if there is none), and registering each child in a local school. This is not always easy, and may require pressure from local community leaders, and even help from our connections in the Ministry of Education, or our relationship with larger NGOs or Church groups who operate schools (Intervida, Fey y Alegria). But we always manage to get our children enrolled. We normally end up paying most of the cost required in getting our children into school, but we try hard to get the parents to participate as much as possible.
When these children are safely in school we take in older children, who are too old to be accepted into normal schools, but who want (or we have persuaded) to be educated. We give them a very basic education. They may be with us for two or more years, and they will end up with a certificate of competency reflecting the educational skills they have mastered. We also feed, medicate and provide Psychological and social services to these children, and usually clothes.
We also continue our contact with the children we have enrolled in normal schools. For the next two years we will - with the school's permission and co-operation - send small teams of our professionals and volunteers into their schools twice a month to hold sessions of our "Club". These take place during the lunch break so children from the morning and the afternoon sessions can attend, and usually a volunteer teacher from the school who teaches our age children participates - also a few of the poorest children from the school who are not ours, but who the school has proposed to us. We provide games, homework help, a small meal (also to the teacher), and it gives our Social Workers and Psychologist an opportunity to spend time with the children away from their homes - to continue helping them. And our international volunteers play with the children and express their usual love and support for the children, always encouraging them to stay in school and complete their education. We give prizes for the best grades achieved, for school attendance and attendance at Club events.
Yes of course we work with the police. Every large police station has a Family and Community section, often presided over by a female police officer, and they are a great help. But the truth is, in the communities where we work the only contact the people have with the police is when they see them come to arrest someone or solve a crime problem. They also see police accompanying our social workers and volunteers into the most dangerous sections of some communities.
Yes of course we work with the Judiciary. In every city where we work we are responsible for getting children saved from violent or neglectful parents. We do this through Demuna, part of the Ministry of Women. Some of the cases we are responsible for make it into the press, and this sometimes places our social workers in danger; because the culprits almost never go to jail - and they are angry with us.
Yes of course we work closely with the Ministry of Education - without doing so we could not get our children into their schools
We also work in close co-operation with World Vision, Lyons, Rotary and local churches - anyone we can get to help.
If it appears, as you say, we are working in isolation, perhaps this is because most Peruvians have never been to the places where we work, are unaware of just how many at-risk children there actually are: children who will never get educated unless someone comes to help them..
Do you think we should write it like this on our web site?
Thank you for your help and consideration.
All good wishes, Bruce Thornton"
I was sy=urprised and impressed, Andy, that you actually turned up. Thank you, and sorry I did not pass the word to them in time to have the red carpet out. If you change your mind, and actually do go out with them to where we actually work in Cusco, you will certainly come back with a different impression what you presently hold.
All the best,
I wrote an email to your box, however you did not reply.
I showed up so your challenge was met and you did not perform.
As found on this post.
Darrien was nice, needs to pull up his pant... hehehe however was willing to show me the schools.
Bruce or whoever, I am a traveler, not a journalist, therefore have very little interest in chasing around after a bunch of kids after a long weekend.
I do not like red carpets, so probably as normal I see what I see.
Saying what you are going to do and doing what you say is the way to get credibility.
Have fun Bruce and take care.
Trouble with you "Anonymous" (and we all know who you are) is you only give a damn about yourself.
Trouble with Bruce is he only gives a damn about street kids.
Yes, he can be a bastard, but look at what he accomplishes - 800 street kids in school.
I'm exposing him, the good and the bad. http://perso.wanadoo.es/martalozano7/
People who know Bruce Peru from the inside are not likely to level your accusation at them.
'Obsessive about helping poor children' 'Overworking volunteers' - perhaps; but "Running a Hotel"! come on...
Either you are being unreasonable because you got kicked out for some reason; or else are retailinng what someone has said to you; someone who may have themselves been asked to leave.
We may not all love the person behind Bruce Peru, but the 100 or so staff and volunteers are performing a wonderful service to the poorest children of Peru.
Only someone who does not know them could pretend otherwise.
Maybe you better have another look:
I don't know anything about Bruce but I would like to comment on Andy's opinions on volunteering. Yes people often do volunteer for their CV, but is it not possible that some people do actually care? Global volunteer work at the moment is indeed unco-ordinated and unregulated, which means that there are indeed poor organisations and corruption problems. However, there are many more excellent organisations which do wonderful work. Does it matter whether they do it for their CV, for their faith or for political reasons? Not really no, so long as the work gets done and money gets to where it's got to be. The crucial aspect of good volunteer work is that it isn't gratification by handing out food or money, but providing the means to produce both. In an ideal world volunteer organisations would not need to exist.
I'd also like to mention that I recognise your point that volunteer organisations allow governments to slack off from doing work that they have to do, but taking into consideration the debt burden and restructuring programs conditioning loans from developed countries it's not surprising that massive social welfare programmes aren't commonplace in the developing world.
Please Andy, think about the bigger picture before making sweeping comments about volunteers or organisations.
This is Andy of HoboTraveler.com
THIS IS TO ANONYMOUS JUST ABOVE
I am laughing, I did not start this comments crap.
It is pretty obvious to me that BrucePeru.com is making a lot of people very angry.
An opinion posted Anonymous to me is just that nothing.
I just purchased ngowatchdog.com to help stop web crap like BrucePeru.com and these anonymous do gooders that have not seen how much the planet is being destroyed by removing the will to work from people.
I paid almost 2000 U.S. Dollars to go to Niger to figure out what is going on with Malnutrition, I went to Iraq for 31 days. I think it is obvious, I pay to learn, and it appears to me that BrucePeru.com is praying on naive people, taking advantage of the good of people. This is the what the devil does... hehehe.
Well said Andy! This individual, who is praying on naive volunteers and using their sympathies for disadvantaged street children to lure them to Peru, is a despicable man. Any organization with such dubious things being said about it is quite likely to be suspect in some way and trust me this one is. I advise anyone thinking about collaborating with this organization to think carefully as you are likely to be disappointed...
You know - There have been more than one thousand volunteers at Bruce Peru so far. The overwhelming majority went home knowing they had contributed to a work which truly helps very poor children to get educated. Onls a small handfull - who either tried to take over the projects they were workiing on, or else got booted out due to drugs or alcohol. You who stalk us now.
Doing this work is great fun. Putting up with stalkers is just part of the price of getting to do something really good.
If you only knew how much fun we're having, you might be tempted to put down your poison pens and take up a project of your own for the good of these children. It is true you will get rich - though not in the way you are thinking.
Please consider that people who really like children spend their time and creativity and resources helping them...
Hmm, the returning volunteer has ZERO profiles view when I, Andy the HoboTraveler.com approved the comment.
Looks like a person that is trying to promote BrucePeru.com. I am trying to learn away to keep the self promotion off the site, I do not have anyway of knowing if this is a anonymoous person or a person trying to sway the view back. We are working on a way to ID the posters and figure out where they originate better.
Especilly important for Hotel Reviews as Hotels wiil try to write their own reviews.
i'm new to this post, i came across it today while looking up information on bruceperu. interesting little banter you've got going here. i just wanted to say that i found your blogs entertaining and the links to the blog ExTrEmELy helpful in finding out about other volunteer organizations that seem a little less controversial (i can't say for sure that bruceperu is BAD, i just can't seem to get a consistent story out of them). i've had a hard time tracking down many of the organizations that i found through some links from your page. thanks to all for the information, i found it very helpful. this is a great site! i will be back for more...
Well I have been looking for something like tghis, I did spend quite some time as a volunteer at Bruce Peru. I believe that this company is a load of crap, Bruce does not help the kids enough, his ideas are good if only they were to be followed through. He pray on kind hearted people in order for his self gain. I urged anyone to really look in to this project before they part with any monies. Because believe me you will not get anything back. I have seen this time and time again. I have been folowing this story for a long time after I workled on the project, and time and time again the same history of events come around, There is no smoke with out fire Peeps!!
Well I have been talking with other ex volunteers also recent ones, the same events have a terrible habbit of repeating them self. I am Darren that has been mentioned above. When I met you Andy I truely believed in the project, little did I know what what going to happen a few months down the line. Of course it all went wrong and Bruce treated us all very bad, accusing us of robbing our own things, telling the parents that we was going to kidknapp the children and many many more. This man is a real nasty piece of work and I will do all I can to expose him to other people. I am collecting people's testomonies I have quite a lot already, Bruce has upset a hell of a lot of people in the short time he has been going. So please if any body else has any other accounts please let me know. send to email@example.com
I was one of the founding members for Bruce Peru's new venture in Cusco. I worked there for two months and I wish that I had been able to stay longer. I really hope that this charity continues its work, and that one day I might return to work for them. My boyfriend and I spent a lot of time choosing where we would volunteer in South America, and I have NO regrets about picking Bruce Peru. I saw where all of my donation money was spent, and not a penny of it was wasted, or made anyone in the charity a profit.
The ethos behind Bruce Peru is something I believe in. I saw many of our kids (who were not in education when they came to us), make it to school, uniforms and all. I also believe that a homework club was set up in order that Bruce Peru might continue supportive contact with the students and their families.
Doing a good job for Bruce Peru was exhausting. You cannot help these people without a commitment to hard work. I think some of the problems lie with volunteers who really wanted to party in Cusco, whilst adding a volunteer post to their C.V. It seems some people were naive enough to think that this work would be easy. Shame they couldn't put their selfishness to one side for even a few weeks, and commit themselves wholeheartedly to the extremely worthwhile project that is Bruce Peru. My name is Rachael and I served with my boyfriend Adam in Cusco. You can find us mentioned briefly on the website. If anyone has any further questions about Bruce Peru, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to hear from people who are thinking about working for Bruce. If you don't want hard work or the reality of poverty to spoil you travels give it a miss; the charity only needs genuine volunteers who don't mind getting their hands dirty.
Racheal, I think that in your 2 months of work at BP you only saw good things , I served 7 Months at Bruce Peru, I too thought this was all Gen. I also wanted to go home feeling great about what I had done. 7 Months is a long time and I was working 7 days a week most weeks, So please dont tell me about getting my hands dirty. You only saw a small fraction of what goes on. Why does he only support the children for one year?? what is the point of this. You have to think about the big picture.
If we did such a bad job why did he want me to open up centres in Argentina, and 2 other of my collegues to be centre directors in other centres. My word we must have been terrible people. It was only when we managed to raise over $4,000 from friends and families, and when we asked for some of this money that Bruce refused to give us ANYTHING!!! He told it was for the other centres. We went to look at the other centres and they were terrible.
How many of the centres did you go to ?????
If you are going to do a job see it through! Right?
Thats what I believe in.
Is a short period of time in the bruce peru centres good? with volunteers that change on a weekly basis, and then 1 year support in school.
Because in one year the families now have money to continue to send them to school right??? of course not,
I guess if you think this you must also be one of those people who wanted to put something on their c.v
open your eyes and look at the big picture.
I also came way after you, all the team worked very hard to get the centres working well. And guess what? we did it because Bruce left us alone and we were raising and making a lot of money for him.
this project is full of holes, you just need to look, if any one has any questions or doubts please email email@example.com
I am not saying to people dont go there, may be he has changed, ( I doubt it) I do think it's fare that people should be aware as there is no smoke with out fire and why would he have upset so many people if there was no truth in it???
los profesores que trabajan en su ong son maltratados nunca les dice gracias es desagradecido, ellos trabajan y dan todo de us perte y usted se aprovecha de eelos su mujer es una puta y mierda, hace poco robaron una tal alejandra el dinero de los niños que tipò de gente son directores por eso lo denunciare ante el ministerio y que vean cuanto roban ustedes.
Thanks to this website, I dodged a major bullet. I was accepted to volunteer for five months for Bruce Organization. The fact that I was accepted two days after I wrote a mere two paragraphs on an online application raised a red flag. I started researching the organization and found amazing things about the Bruce and his mission...and I found this website. I wrote the coordinator an email:
I have been doing some research on BrucePeru and I have run into some troubling claims. I'm sure the organization is aware that two websites in particular: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/098/RipOff0098771.htm and http://www.hobotraveler.com/vo_volunteerperu.php have less than pleasant things to say about BrucePeru. I would like to get all the facts before I commit to spending time and money. Is there any way I could get in contact with volunteers or ex-volunteers via email in order to ask a few questions?
Here was her response:
We live a certain way, knowing that if we are not as correct in our personal lives as we can be, we may not continue to receive the mysterious intervention which inevitably makes up for what we lack in accomplishing our work for the children and women we help.
It is not at all your fault you came across the websites you have found, I believe there are three in all. They are the work of ex volunteers who have taken over (another word would better fit here) projects from us, and in an attempt to discredit us instead of themselves - considering that all other volunteers serving when they were with us know well what they did. Note: If you go to this web site and scroll down you will meet some of the people who have done this - http://volunteers4u.org/volunteerperu/
We are always sorry to have to revisit this sad and unfair taste of what nastiness one must sometimes put up with in order to keep on doing what one believes in.
Our suggestion is for you to find another charity to volunteer with.
We are not the least bit put out with you, and consider you to be a victim the same as we..
Very best wishes for a wonderful 2009
Nicole, for the Bruce team
Can someone please interpret the first line of her email????? That makes no sense whatsoever.
So apparently they are taking away my acceptance into the program because I was trying to make a responsible decision! So frustrating! But they definitely have something to hide if I scared them off like that just by asking to be put in contact with volunteers!
Hmmm. Interesting information here. I just had the opportunity of speaking with the man himself on the phone today and I got this impression after a short while. I also agree that the application process was alarmingly short.
Are there any "good" organizations out there that anyone can recommend, or is "volunteering abroad" a totally lost cause?
I recommend fundacion-delpia from what I know right now.
An excellent listing!
Wow, my sister's family is in Peru right now working with these kids and this organization. They were just approached with paying for a new center for about ten thousand dollars and have pretty much agreed to do it. They are excited to do this and make a lasting difference for many for a long time. Now I'm concerned that they might be suckered into a scam and loose a ton of money. It seemed odd to me as well that it would cost their family almost $1600/month to live when food is so cheap there. The living conditions are pretty minimal for that kind of fee. They just want to do a good thing for less fortunate, but I have concerns now about the organization. I wanted to donate to that project which is why I'm researching the organization. I'm glad I did! I will continue to look for other blogs on this group.
IT IS A SCAM... Bruce tricks good people into coming and doing good work. but he as an individual is a corrupt and scary individual... don't take my work for it look up for yourself www.volunteersouthamerica.net and see what it has to say about the organization!!! WARNING WARNING STAY AWAY FROM THIS ORGANIZATION!!!!!!!
Just check out one of the above sentences in Spanish by Annonoumous it says: hola seï¿½or bruce usted es un ratero y maltrata a los profesores me entere que no paga a los profesores en cusco y les paga 25 soles a la semana que ratero se aprovecha de los niï¿½os. lo voy a denunciar.
Hello Mr. Bruce, you are a rat and you mistreat your teachers. You don't pay them what they are owed. 25 soles per week. I am going to report you.