San Ramon, a city of 30,000 inhabitants, is the gateway to Peru’s Selva Central (Central Rain Forest). Nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains at 770 meters (2,526 feet) above sea level, the days are warm, the nights are cool and surrounding hills are lush with vegetation. San Ramon has grown rapidly in recent years as people move here from the higher-elevation mountains and the lower-elevation jungles for work, for school and for the pleasant climate.
Emily is volunteering at Clinica Elera (Elera Clinic), a private medical center with modern facilities and a well-trained staff. Dr. Gustavo Elera, originally from Lima, came to the rain forest as an intern. He soon fell in love with San Ramon and decided to begin his practice here. The clinic continues to grow due to the need in the community and the high quality of care it offers; there are plans to expand the facility and hire new staff. Patients come from all over the rainforest for treatment of a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. Emily is eager to learn and helps out any way she can — she is making the most of this opportunity to gain experience as she assists the friendly, professional staff. She has sat in on consultations, assisted with treatments and witnessed surgeries. She supports the staff and encourages patients with her positive, can-do attitude, putting in long hours that typically keep her at the clinic from morning until dark.
Eliza and Austin volunteer at the Programa Integral Nacional para el Bienestar Familiar (“National Integrated Program for the Wellbeing of the Family”). The center where they work, known by its acronym INABIF, serves disadvantaged children from San Ramon whose parents are not home during the day due to work or other reasons. Children with school in the afternoon spend their mornings here; those with school in the morning spend their afternoons here. They enjoy a hot meal, get help with their homework, participate in learning activities related to school and social development and enjoy the companionship of peers in a safe, protected environment.
Eliza helps one of the teachers put together learning materials in the mornings and tutors children in the afternoons. Her artistic ability is appreciated by the teachers and the attention she devotes to the children is a blessing to each of them. Austin helps out in the classroom each morning, teaching games and assisting a teacher who recently arrived at the center. The children enjoy her fun personality and positive presence in the classroom. Austin and Eliza both eat lunch at the center each day and offer themselves as positive role models to children who are often neglected, and sometimes mistreated, at home.