My experience volunteering with Manos Unidas was nothing short of amazing!

It was one of the best experiences of my life thus far.

While volunteering at the school, I got the opportunity to work with children with severe disabilities in both a classroom and physical therapy setting. These kids were incredible and despite their circumstances I would always see a smile being brought to their faces. It also brought me so much joy to be able to see the gratitude of their parents from the help their children were getting. Working in the classroom at first was tough but with the support of the teachers and staff, I became comfortable working with the kids, learned a lot and was excited to see what a new day would bring with them. I was lucky enough to be able to work alongside the school’s physical therapist and staff from the University of Washington as well. I gained a lot of knowledge about pediatric physical therapy and this only drove my passion more to pursue a career in this field.

I have so many unforgettable memories but a few stick out. The most vivid memory I have was with a kiddo named Eduardo. We went outside to play and as I was helping him walk to the garden, his face lit up and he began to walk faster so excited to be able to play outside. His joy brought me joy. A few others were being able to help with and attend the grand opening of Café Daria and the Conference, visiting a school that was part of the inclusion program of Manos Unidas and any day I was assisting with the school physical therapist.

Another aspect of my volunteering experience was being able to travel all around Cusco. I did a 5 day trek through the Andes mountains to Machu Picchu and this was an experience of a lifetime and something everyone should do! It’s tough, but so rewarding and beautiful. Adventure everywhere through the city, there’s so much to see. Cusco is a beautiful city and all the people in it are as well.

If you’re worried about your home stay family, don’t be! The family I stayed with was incredible, helping all the volunteers in any way that they needed. I gained another family after being there for only a month. A big thank you to Celeste for allowing me this opportunity, to Jessica for helping with anything us volunteers needed, to my homestay family for treating me like I was part of your family, to the teachers and staff for being patient and supporting me, to Maya, Haleigh and Emma for always being there and to the kiddos who changed my life for the better!

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