Community Development and Environmental Change in Peru

Spend 2-4 weeks in Cusco, Peru engaging with other volunteers and helping the local community develop innovative and self-sustaining structures while bringing hope of a better quality of life to the local people.

Program Overview

Feel like making a contribution to a project which will change lives? Well, you won’t get much closer to that goal than with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Spend 2-4 weeks in Cusco, Peru helping the local community to develop innovative and self-sustaining structures while at the same bringing hope of a better quality of life to the local people. Engage and work with other volunteers to really make a difference for the local community. 

The broad aim of the project is to help develop Cusco, Peru – its people and community – with innovative and self-sustaining structures and support materials, while at the same bringing hope of a better quality of life to the local people. And we need your help to achieve this! These are meaningful and sustainable projects that make a real difference to the local community in the true sense of experiential service-learning. This project is unlike many others of CISaustralia as students will be focused on manufacturing and implementing the following into local community homes:

  • Cleaner burning stoves
  • Ceramic water filters
  • Sustainable greenhouses
  • Ecological refrigerators and cupboards 
  • Healthy kitchens

Our volunteer programs are a two-way street; not only will you be helping the local community, but you will also learn a lot about yourself. Supporting the local community is always one of our main goals. Nevertheless, you as a volunteer are just as important. The experience will be life-changing – in the best way possible!

Project Details:

  • Program Activities: Building & development, community, environmental, sustainable building practices
  • Project Availability: Fixed program dates each year – see the Program Fee and Dates tab (below) or contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability
  • Project Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Working Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm
  • Location: Cusco, Peru – in and around, pending demands of the project and local surrounding communities. Students will be based in Cusco and head out each day to their local community. The communities are based between 15 and 60 minutes outside of Cusco. Students should expect delays at times based on local traffic conditions. Transport will be local buses or similar.
  • Excursions: Volunteers will have personal time in the afternoons and on weekends to relax, attend special events or services with your host family and visit surrounding areas. Our on-site staff can assist you in planning or deciding on other fun sites to see and explore while you are in Peru.
  • Support: 24-hour on-site support from Site Coordinator, Project Leader and Site Director
  • A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English (basic Spanish useful)


Besides having the unique opportunity to help out a small community on a different continent, this program offers students a number of other exciting highlights:

  • Help plan, design and build local structures that are particularly important for the local community
  • Learn a range of core skills – communication, cultural, planning, project management, group dynamics, organisational, environmental
  • Students will engage with community leaders and local levels of government / local organisations
  • Build environmentally-sustainable structures for local communities
  • Immerse yourself in local Peruvian culture
  • Make friends for life with other international volunteers on the program
  • Take the opportunity to visit neighbouring countries and enjoy optional excursions!

Sample Itinerary

During orientation, the on-site staff will welcome you to Peru and go over your group’s itinerary – including project schedules, excursions, dinners, activities, etc. All group programs are individually customised to best meet your group’s interests.

COVID Safe Travel

The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We take our duty of care for our students, their families and our Australian University partners seriously. For all of our program locations, we have developed a site-specific COVID-19 risk matrix and risk management and emergency response plans so that health and safety response protocols are monitored, managed and communicated.

In preparation for your overseas program, it’s important that you carefully read and understand information related to COVID-19 Travel Safety and Insurance Requirements.

CISaustralia monitors Smartraveller and reliable news feeds to keep up to date with the latest COVID information and any associated travel restrictions and entry requirements for all destinations where we have programs. Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation, Government travel advice can change quickly. For the most up to date information on Peru, visit the Smartraveller website.

The Volunteer's Role

Volunteers in Cusco will be fully immersed within the community every day (including all the cultural and personal benefits of homestay). Pending the project and local communities engaged, some travel / transport may be required to and from the project each day (up to one hour in traffic). The commute provides a good opportunity to see the world go by, see daily life unfold and importantly to reflect, discuss the day’s activities with your volunteer colleagues (the challenges and successes) and plan for tomorrow. What makes this project unique and different than others is that you are able to experience so many different activities. You will have the opportunity to join in a variety of activities that help uplift the community and help improve their lives. Below you will find a list of projects that you may get to experience in Cusco:

Students manufacture cleaner burning stoves at homes in rural communities and train families how to use them (alongside qualified staff). The cleaner burning stoves improve air quality in small, traditionally enclosed homes, lowering the risk of respiratory infections and diseases for women and children, who spend the majority of their days indoors at home. In addition to eliminating this smoke from the kitchen, the cleaner burning stoves also act to make cooking fires more efficient through their design, reducing wood usage by up to 50%. The cleaner burning stoves are made of locally-produced ceramic components and then constructed by using improved adobe mud. After some training, participants build the stove hand-in-hand with our project coordinators and the family recipient.

In the rural and urban communities of Cusco, the lack of access to clean drinking water is the most pressing development issue facing the region. Gastrointestinal infections, resulting from the consumption of dirty water, are known to be one of the leading causes of childhood malnutrition. Students will manufacture ceramic water filters, deliver them to homes in rural communities and train families how to use them. The filters improve water quality, which decrease poor sanitation and hygiene and lower the risk of malnutrition and respiratory infections. Participants are needed for multiple roles to assist in the development of the project, including: manufacturing, business planning, marketing and fundraising.

Due to geographical and climatic conditions, the families of Andean communities are not able to grow much more than root crops and a few grains. Building these types of greenhouses enable vegetable cultivation and encourage the families to have a healthy diet. The participants will help in the construction, planting and training families in the community.

This is a long-term project. It incorporates a range of different technologies that help improve the lives of families living in these communities. By constructing ecological refrigerators, cupboards and cleaner burning stoves, and illustrating the benefits of hand washing and cleanliness, these communities are learning how to compost, filter water and maintain a healthy home. This project is designed to implement multiple, basic home improvements in one village, signalling a long-term commitment to create a big impact. Whether the participants are in Peru for two weeks or three months, they will work on a project within the Healthy Homes initiative that will make a big difference for the local people.

Many kitchens in rural communities only have access to un-purified water and wood burning stoves with no chimney to allow the smoke to exit the home. These living conditions contribute to high levels of respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems. In this long-term project, staff and participants focus in the most important area for the families in rural communities – the kitchen. This project aims to improve the area, providing a ceramic water filter, building a cleaner burning stove, ecological refrigerators and storage shelves to help families organise and preserve their food, and also helping with the finishing of walls.


There are a variety of activities and places of interest volunteers can choose to visit on their own (at own expense) outside of project hours, such as Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and more. Volunteers will have personal time in the afternoons and on weekends to relax, attend special events or services with your host family and visit surrounding areas. On-site staff can assist you in planning or deciding on other cultural sites to see and explore while you are in Peru.


Peru is sometimes considered to be the molten core of South America. It is a distillation of the oldest traditions, combined with the finest weaving and art. Students enjoy the vivid festivals and delicious foods. Explore the numerous food markets and be dazzled by the wide range of choices. Great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients ranging from highland tubers and tropical jungle fruits, to a complex cuisine of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influence. Most certainly a place of wonders for every foodie out there!

Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this program takes you to southeastern Peru. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and they considered it to be the belly. You will be swept away by the ancient Andean culture fused with the colonial grandeurs of the Spanish conquest. Yet Cusco is only the gateway. Beyond lies the astonishing Sacred Valley, numerous villages in the countryside and the continent’s biggest wonder – Machu Picchu.

With a wonderful diverse landscape, Cusco and its surroundings take you from Amazon lowlands, to Andean peaks and orchid-rich cloud forests. Nowadays, Cusco is also known for its indigenous population – often seen wearing traditional clothing in the Peruvian streets. Bright coloured fabrics illuminate the city and its tourist-fuelled nightlife.

Beautiful historic ruins can be found here as well as educational museums and an astonishing plaza. Remember to visit the San Pedro Market as it is a must-see in while staying in Cusco! All projects will be based in and around Cusco, depending on the needs of the local surrounding communities. Project sites are generally 15-60 minutes away from Cusco.


Accommodation is included in your program fees and you will be assigned to stay with a local family in Cusco. You will have the opportunity to get to know local families and communities through your homestay experience. Homestays provide an amazing opportunity that most travellers do not get to experience. To be welcomed into a local home and experience the local culture, you will make life-long friends which is truly unique.

Homestay placements are arranged for you and information about your assigned family will be provided to you on arrival or shortly before departure. Every effort will be made to match the homestay family with individual student’s preferences/requirements. You will be matched with your family shortly prior to, or on arrival, based on the accommodation form you will be asked to complete via your CISaustralia Participant Portal.

Local families have been providing homestay accommodation to visiting students/volunteers for 10-15+ years and have a wealth of experience when it comes to providing lodging to students.

The typical local home is modest with a shared bathroom. Homes are in somewhat central suburbs – on average, travel time could be 5-20 minutes from the office / central downtown by car, while some could even be walking distance.

Your homestay family will provide you with 3 meals per day. You will need to ask for a box lunch at the start of your program and your homestay family will prepare a simple box lunch ready for you to take each morning before you leave for your project.

Why Volunteer with CISaustralia

CISaustralia believes strongly in supporting volunteer initiatives across the world that promote sustainable and long-term societal, environmental and economic change to benefit and empower local communities.

While the term volunteering is widely known and accepted, we prefer to use the term Experiential Service Learning. This better relates to our philosophy surrounding close community engagement as well as a focus on projects that have a long-term approach and a range of positive impacts for both communities and our students. Over 98% of CISaustralia participants receive academic credit for their program abroad, which fosters a more culturally immersive and deeper reflective experience.

CISaustralia volunteering programs contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. While not every program will achieve all seventeen of the UN goals, your role as a volunteer will have a positive impact by doing work that really matters. We partner with organisations that have in-depth, first-hand knowledge and close relationships with local communities. Prior to your departure, our team in Australia will prepare you with extensive resources so you feel supported every step of the way. You will also be supported throughout your entire overseas program by our fantastic and experienced in-country staff. 

Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, enabling you to learn and grow on many personal and professional levels, to broaden your perspective on the world and to become a global citizen. CISaustralia prides itself in having the strongest global partners who are socially responsible and equally committed to their local communities and ethical practices. We love what we do at CISaustralia and are here to provide you with the support you need to successfully volunteer abroad – so that you can contribute to positively changing the lives of others, and yourself, along the way. Get ready for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Read more: Why Volunteer Abroad with CISaustralia?

Program Fee & Dates

2-4 weeks (SET DATES ONLY)
This program is available on fixed program dates (only). Programs start on a Sunday and end on a Saturday. Application deadline is 90 days prior to commencement. Contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability.
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 3,599 - 4,599
OS-HELP A$ 7,921
June 2024 (2 weeks)
Limited Places Available - contact CISaustralia to reserve your spot
Application Deadline29 March 2024
Arrival Date16 June 2024
Departure Date29 June 2024
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 3,599
OS-HELP A$ 7,921


Program fees include the following:
  • Volunteer placement and supervision
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick-up (on specified program arrival date within designated arrival times)
  • On-site orientation and project induction
  • Accommodation – homestay (full room and board)
  • Welcome and Farewell dinners
  • Meals – 3 meals per day
  • Transport to and from project site (daily)
  • Multilingual group leader
  • Extensive staff support throughout all phases of the program
  • Group excursion to Sacred Valley – one full day included (includes transportation, tour guide, lunch, entrance fees)
  • A selection of local cultural activities – may include some of the following: chocolate making, city tour, beekeeping workshop, salsa lesson, Spanish language lesson, weaving class or other
  • Sustainable project donation for project materials – for the community and healthcare centres
  • Program risk matrix and COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Risk Management and Emergency Response Plan
  • 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinators
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Program application fee
  • International Student Identity Card
  • Flights (CISaustralia will however provide travel guidance and support via our formal travel partner)
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Police or Working With Children Check
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.

Adventure Awaits

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