I volunteered at RAREC for 15 days from June 15th - June 30th and can easily say I have had the time of my life here and have come back to Canada as a completely new person.
To begin with, the location of RAREC is incredible - right in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest. This gave me a very genuine experience of rural Peru. The centre has a beautiful lagoon right in the centre and is surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful blue skies - you don't get much more authentic than that!
The work being done at this centre is amazing and highly beneficial to both the environment and community. A typical day for a volunteer lasts from 7am - 3pm and includes chopping up fruit and vegetables as breakfast for the animals, cleaning animal cages, enrichment activities with animals and afternoon feeding for the animals. Occasionally, we had tour groups and the volunteers would assist with the running of the tours. The evenings were often very relaxed and there was time at the end of the day to watch TV, chill out, eat and hang out with the rescue cats and dogs! I was a particular fan of the rescue cat, Mimi, who is actually a boy but with a girls name. Mimi was very talkative and loved to constantly meow and chatter! The rescue dogs were super lovely too (Charlie, JJ, Blackie and Negra) and are always up for pets and cuddles, especially Charlie who loves to be picked up and cuddled like a baby!
I cannot put into words the incredible knowledge I have gained from working at RAREC. I am an aspiring lawyer and am looking to potentially work in Animal Rights or Environmental law and working with RAREC has given me an invaluable understanding of ethical animal treatment and both lawful and ethical management of animals in captivity. I have also done many things I have never done before, such as bottle-feeding manatees, walking an ocelot, collecting dragonflies as food for monkeys and assisting with animal treatment. We also had a visit from vets and biologists whom I learned so much from. Not only has this experience been beneficial to my potential career, but I have grown as a person from my experiences. Volunteering at RAREC was my first visit to South America and I have learned to much about Peruvian/South-American culture and how vastly different it is to where I am from (Australia). Seeing the dissimilar way which Peruvians live has given me a greater appreciation of another culture and to reflect comparatively on my own lifestyle. I would recommend volunteering at RAREC to honestly anyone - not just biologists or vets or animal lovers, but anyone looking to gain a unique experience, to travel or grow as an individual.
The thing, however, that struck me most about RAREC was how well cared for the animals were. Their cages were incredibly clean and well-maintained and the diets of each animal was specially tailored to suit its specific needs and dietary requirements. John and the RAREC staff all took the time and effort to carefully monitor the animals each day and check for any behaviour changes. If an animal fell sick, quick and effective action was always taken. While I was staying here, one of the wooly monkeys fell sick (Turk) and she was better within days after constant care, treatment and maintenance.
As for the staff members working here, I feel like I've gained a new family in Peru. Special mention to Irasema, who's cooking was incredible, and to Roy who is one of the hardest workers I've met and is literally superman. Even though I couldn't speak a word of Spanish, I always felt very included and taken care of by everyone and they were always there if I needed help with anything. I instantly felt comfortable and accepted among the staff members here since they were all very warm and friendly.
I would absolutely recommend volunteering at RAREC to anyone, whether you're a student, a professional, an animal or just someone who wants a new experience. This place will leave you with unforgettable memories and unparalleled, unique experiences!
So what are you waiting for? Go volunteer in this little jungle resort! :)