Where We Work
Pacasmayo - Peru
Pacasmayo, home to just under 30,000 inhabitants, is a nostalgic beach town on the Northern coast of Peru. It is most well known for its warm climate and its surf, which attracts surfers from around the world. Characterized by its boardwalk and traditional Spanish architecture, Pacasmayo has a charm all its own. The atmosphere in Pacasmayo is quiet and relaxed, although the town has grown quite a bit in past years. Tiny restaurants dot the center of town, where locals and foreigners hang out in the evening hours to enjoy the food and to chat. Visit the nearby town San Pedro de Lloc to try tortilla de lagartija, a dish made of local lizards hunted by locals, and humitas, which are similar to tamales but have earned a fame all their own in the region. Just 14 km outside of Pacasmayo, volunteers can visit the archaeological site of Paktanamú, where they will observe the ruins of 50 pyramids as well as plazas and rooms that have stood the test of time.
Due to its location in the coastal region of Peru, Pacasmayo is much more modern and developed than other towns of its size in the Andean and jungle regions of the country. Transportation to and from Trujillo, Peru's 2nd largest city, leaves every half hour, and as a result, many Pacasmayinos travel often to visit friends and family in the city. Modern comforts such as tile floors, hot water and internet are more common here than in other parts of the country, and there are ATMs and even a post office in town. If you long for the metropolitan environment or international fast food chains, Trujillo or Chiclayo are only a 2-hour bus ride away.
Although healthcare and education are widely available in the region of Pacasmayo, public institutions are generally underfunded and understaffed. Health institutions operate with limited resources and suffer from a common provincial problem, which is that most well trained professionals prefer to live in Trujillo or Lima. Common supplies are often lacking, and medical devices are available but often outdated or worn down. Clinical Medicine volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside Peruvian medical staff in two different healthcare systems: General Healthcare or MINSA and Healthcare for Insured Patients or ESSALUD, which are both government programs but work within very different realities. Volunteers will work in Pacasmayo as well as the nearby provinces of San Pedro de Lloc and Guadalupe.
There are several excellent private schools in the region, but public schools lack the funding to provide worthwhile extracurricular classes to their students such as computing and English. Class sizes are more reasonable than in larger metropolitan areas, but resources and staff are limited, and teachers must be creative in finding a way to provide their students with a well-rounded education.
Pacasmayo does not have government-sponsored art and music schools as in larger cities like Trujillo and Lima. However, local residents are working to implement artistic and cultural activities in the region. With a lot of hard work, they have been able to restore the local theatre and provide music, art, theatre and dance classes on a limited basis to the community. Funds and teachers are scarce, and they are in need of long-term volunteers and financial support to provide quality programs to the community.