International Nutrition Internships in Peru
- PLACEMENT LOCATION: Huayopata District in the Cusco region
- ROLE: To work alongside local technicians and a nutritionist focusing on the issues of malnutrition and food insecurity in local communities, including early stimulation and care
- TYPES OF PLACEMENTS: Rural communities and workshops in small towns in the cloud forest
- REQUIREMENTS: Interns must speak an intermediate level of Spanish
- ACCOMMODATION: Community house in Huyro
- LENGTH OF PLACEMENT: From 4 weeks
- START DATES: Flexible
Many families in the Sacred Valley have been affected by malnutrition and have nutritional deficiencies and Projects Abroad is working closely with the local authorities in the Huayopata District. They run an integral food security program with nutritional, early stimulation, and care activities in order to overcome early childhood development problems and support local families in the Lucumayo Valley. Many of these families have been affected by malnutrition and who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. As an intern, you will contribute toward important on-going work that will impact the lives of many people in the Sacred Valley.
You can get involved in a variety of activities, from distributing nutritious food, to leading workshops and empowering communities with education. Interns should speak intermediate Spanish, but no other experience is needed, so you can get involved as part of a gap year, career break, or extended vacation.
Malnutrition rates in Peru have long been a source of concern, with nearly a third of Peruvian children living in rural areas currently suffering from chronic malnutrition. In 2010 the province of Cusco had the fourth highest proportion of children under 5 suffering from it in Peru.
This program aims to alleviate malnourishment and lack of early development by improving nutritional awareness, care, and stimulation activities to mothers while providing Projects Abroad interns with meaningful first-hand experience in nutritional work in a developing country.
Interning on the Nutrition Project in Peru with Projects Abroad
As an intern on this placement, you will work with the local authorities. Your work will focus on providing education and support in order to help overcome the ever growing problem of malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, lack of early childhood development, and overall care conditions for children between birth and five years old. You will also help ensure food security for families with few economic resources. For this program, Projects Abroad works in cooperation with the local municipality of Huayopata, the communities, the local health administration (centro de salud de Huyro), and Peruvian nutritionists, nurses, and technicians.
You will find yourself working alongside technicians (doing home visits and health check-ups) and a local nutritionist from the program. Your work will be diverse and you may also help with awareness campaigns as well as developing educational materials.
The areas where we work are diverse and each present a unique set of challenges. In conjunction with partner staff, Projects Abroad Peru has developed sets of educational materials suitable to each community.
Although we work mostly in capacity building with parents, we aim to specifically target the primary infancy group of children aged from 0 – 6. Research shows that this is the key age group to work with to improve mental capacity and nutrition.
Your Role as an Intern on the Nutrition Project
Projects Abroad interns may have the opportunity to take on three roles within the nutritional program. You will work primarily in the rural areas within the district.
The majority of interns' time will be spent doing house-to-house visits in the mornings and preparing and running workshops in the afternoons. Here, your role will be to help improve the stimulation of children, and develop the intake of healthy food in families identified as being especially vulnerable through workshops and activities, in conjunction with partner staff.
In the rural communities, your role will consist of visits including assisting in workshops with partner staff, and distributing nutritious food, as well as educative materials. The simple act of providing nutrient rich foods such as eggs and fruit, which the community is unable to afford, has an important and immediate impact on children.
The second role interns will be involved in is capacity building and empowerment. Nutrition interns will expand the workshops that interns with specialized nutritional knowledge currently provide for children aged 10 - 16. Projects Abroad Peru also aims to further develop the regular workshops held with local specialists, whose knowledge of the local language, Quechua, is vital in communicating with the parents, many of whom are illiterate and barely speak Spanish.
The workshops target high-risk groups, such as young mothers and/or those living in poverty. Nutritional workshops will focus on micronutrient and vitamin intake, good hygiene practices, and will also provide dietary guidelines for pregnant women and children of all ages, including the critical period of exclusive breastfeeding. In the longer term, the educational materials that we provide will enable the communities to be more aware of the factors involved in living a healthy life, improving the lives for them and their children in a sustainable manner. All of this is in coordination with the local health centre and the integral nutritional program.
The third role interns may be involved in is nutritional research. This will depend on the interns’ experience with nutrition or statistics. Examples of tasks that interns could be involved in is identifying children with specific nutrient disorders and developing materials to target these particular deficiencies or measuring the progress of the programs using data taken by the Peruvian Ministry of Health.
Current problems are typically iron and protein deficiencies that can lead to stunting, amongst other issues. Through this statistical work, Projects Abroad Peru will be able to develop a long-term sustainable intervention strategy. We will be able to measure which methods are the most effective and what impact various services have on the health of the communities.
Nutrition Internships in Peru with Projects Abroad
The extent to which interns will be able to work in each of the areas will depend on their Spanish speaking abilities and needs of our partner organizations. Those with less Spanish will work with more focus on statistical work, development of culturally relevant interactive educational materials, and work with children aged 0 – 6, as opposed to leading and assisting in workshops.
All intern work is undertaken with the full cooperation of the partner organizations: the program run by the district authorities, the health centre in Huyro, and, their Peruvian partner staff, and the communities themselves. The involvement of the local community is vital to increase participation rates, and so the overall success of the project. Additionally, the plan is designed to be not only sustainable, but also transferable. Successful parts will be transferable to other communities within the region in the future.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Peru Medicine & Healthcare Management Plan.
All volunteers participating on standard projects in Peru have the opportunity to spend one week on a Conservation & Environment project at the end of their main placement. For more information, please visit our Rainforest Conservation & Environment Project in Peru page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.
If you have qualifications or experience in this field then we can make use of your skills volunteering abroad as a professional in Peru.