Today, the focus of our article is APRODE PERÚ, an NGO located in Lima that triggers humanitarian development in Peru, working hand in hand with locals. Some of the fields they work in are environmental awareness, social inclusion, improvement of public and educational policies for communities in risk of exclusion, among many others.
We have talked to Percy Gómez Merino, the president of the organisation, and this is what he told us about their efforts:
Could you define APRODE PERÚ to our readers?
APRODE PERÚ is a multidisciplinary NGO that fights for the development of equity in the quality of life in some communities in Peru.
Taking into account that your organisation aims to contribute to development in some unprivileged areas of Peru, which are the main locations you work in and how do you choose them?
The main areas we put our efforts in are Apurímac, Huancavelica, Piura, Lambayeque and Junín. Our criteria to choose these places is based in the poverty map of the country. The areas that are the specifically conflictive and where people need certain basic resources the most, that is where we go help.
How do you decide which fields to start working on first? – Considering how many different needs you can find in these communities.
As I was saying, the areas that are the most vulnerable are our main focus, along with the ones where natural disasters happen.
If torrential rains take place, as it happened recently in Piura, and thousands of people find their harvests and homes destroyed, especially people with limited resources and weak infrastructure, our work is to help with humanitarian help. This help usually comes from the government, international institutions, friends living abroad… All these actors send food, clothes, medicines, medical equipment… And in really extreme cases, the mouth to mouth is one of our best friends.
When it comes to implement any of these programs (regarding health care, drug prevention, fair trade, etc.), which is the first step you take in order to get closer to the local communities?
The first contact is always done by a third party, meaning that halls are usually the ones that get in touch with us to ask for some kind of intervention. The second step is done by an institutional voluntarism programme, that send people that have studied economic, political sciences, socioeconomic sciences… and they take care of gathering information about the community itself.
During this research, volunteers study the needs and lacks of the people in the area, so we can figure out what is exactly what they need and we are able to do accomplish projects like building up a school, improving their health care centres, etc.
What requirements do volunteers have to meet?
They must be of legal age, that they have specific studies like the ones I’ve mentioned before (along with some other paperwork) and most importantly, that must be eager to learn, work and help improve the situation of these Peruvian communities.
The majority of volunteers are usually between 24 and 30 years old and have a really positive willingness to participate in all of our projects. They stay a couple of days with us here in Lima and then, they are sent to the province they will work in. This is for them to get used to the things they are going to see and learn and how the NGO carries out the projects.
What type of activities are volunteers in charge of?
The activities they do tend to be related to English classes, environmental awareness projects, and even physical therapy. Some of the volunteers help older people recover their body mobility. As you can see, their work is really oriented to improve the quality of life the locals with the knowledge we have been gathering all these years.
How do you keep track of the projects once you leave the community?
We firmly believe in offering locals a proper training to develop their natural skills, especially when talking about environmental awareness and sustainability. We teach them knowledge they will be able to reproduce in the future, implementing the techniques that work the best for them. This way, they are self-sufficient and don’t need us anymore after a certain period of time.
What role do local people have in the development of all of your projects?
Obviously, their participation is really active in all of our projects. No one knows their lacks and needs better than local people themselves. Creating a project is something that requires so much effort, it’s a transversal work where people usually have different goals. Some of them want quick solutions to problems like the transportation of water, and some others want a more integral development of the community. So generally, we meet halfway to combine what we can offer and accomplish together.
From your personal experience, what have local people taught you when working hand in hand?
For me, the most impressive thing was their desire to improve, especially taking into account how little resources they have available. Locals always show a great interest, that is what creates a feeling of respect and admiration towards them and makes us go back to lima wanting to get the best results possible. Their kindness is amazing, they offer you everything they have.
From your professional experience, how can travel contribute to human and social development?
Making tourism doesn’t become something exclusively commercial, but something cultural and caring. For instance, in Peru you can find the Shipibo Conibo community, in the Amazon area, that proudly shows their community to curious travelers. The paintings they hand-make are really famous.
We, in APRODE PERÚ, also carry out cultural tours around Lima for travelers who want to immerse in the beautiful Peruvian society, showing the main focuses of our daily lives.
To finish this interview, in what way do you think people can make the world a better place simply by traveling?
Believing that kindness can actually make our world a better and fairer place to live, where equity is not a privilege, but a right. Supporting projects that aim to improve social welfare through cooperation and local people skills, we all can give something in return to the communities we travel to.
In U2GUIDE, we never get tired of supporting causes, and especially organisations that work so hard to give better opportunities to people that really need them, organisations like APRODE PERÚ, always triggering humanitarian development in Peru. We hope you visit their website, show them some love and let us know what you think about their work.