Friends of Chimbote, Chimbote, Peru

February 29th - March 8th, 2020

A group of Bennies and Johnnies smile with local children while building a house in Chimbote, Peru.  

Friends of Chimbote is a faith-based organization dedicated to supporting programs that improve and transform the lives of the poor of Chimbote, Peru.  The needs of the residents of Chimbote are basic: food to eat, shelter from the elements, care when they’re sick, jobs to provide for their families, and access to education so their children can build a better future.  To respond to these needs, Los Amigos provides the following programs:

  • Social programs: Soup kitchens, battered women's shelter, legal advocacy, wellness program, emergency assistance program
  • Infrastructure: Home building and repair, garden maintenance
  • Health care: Medical, nursing, and dental appointments, medical support services, hospice, hospital partnerships, tuberculosis program
  • Economic development: "Dollars for Scholars", micro-lending, Chimbote Computer Services
  • Education: Learning support/tutoring program, libraries, kindergartens and daycare, adult learning program 

Formerly a thriving resort town and lucrative fishing port, Chimbote was once the most important fishing port in Peru. Known in the 1950s as the "Honeymoon Capital of Peru," Chimbote has been ravaged by decades of economic calamities and dramatic population surges, creating desperate conditions for the city's residents. Today, the city includes a modern center, with paved streets, shops, and a few restaurants and hotels, surrounded by tens of thousands of windowless, woven-reed shacks built in the sand by impoverished residents who have nowhere else to live.

Chimbote today is one of Peru's poorest and most contaminated cities, with outdated fishmeal factories pumping toxins into the air, soil and water.

Today, the overburdened city holds more than 400,000 residents, many of whom live on land on the outskirts of town that is not their own. They struggle  through abject poverty and lack access to even the most basic necessities, such as sewer, water or electricity.

With employment that rises and falls on the fortunes of the city's beleaguered fishmeal factories, jobs are exceptionally scarce. In areas where Friends of Chimbote operates, the unemployment or underemployment rate is believed to be as high as 87 percent.

Chimbote's poor have become so accustomed to disease and death that preventive medicine is virtually unknown. Simple daily survival so preoccupies parents that they unintentionally neglect basic health-care practices for infant sons and daughters. The Worldwatch Institute reports that life expectancy in Chimbote is 10 years lower than Peru's national average.

Despite the city's harsh circumstances, Chimbote's story remains one of hope, courage and transformation. The optimism and determination of Chimbote's people stand in stark contrast to the dire conditions in which they live.

 What to Expect:

  • Cost:  Each ABE trip costs $425. This covers a variety of expenses, including food, lodging, travel, service fees, donations, and work supplies. International trips have the added cost of flights, which will be purchased in a group by CSB Campus Ministry. Estimated cost of flights to Chibote, Peru is $1300-$1500.  All participants traveling internationally must have a valid passport. Your passport should be valid (not expire) for a minimum of six months after your return. You would have an additional expense if you need to purchase or renew your passport. International destinations may also charge for a tourist card or visa. You are responsible for the cost of any required tourist documents. Participants that are flying to their trip destination are responsible for their own transportation to and from the MSP airport, the cost of any bags they choose to check and any food they choose to purchase (meals are provided for the group once they arrive at their destination). Souvenirs and optional excursions are individual expenses.
  • Travel: The group will fly from Minneapoolis to Lima. They will stay in Lima for one night. Then, the group will take a bus to Chimbote.
  • Lodging:  Participants will stay at the parish in the dormitory style rooms there.
  • Food: Participants will eat food prepared by workers in the Parish.
  • Work: The work will be varied, based on what the site needs are at the time. In the past, participants have worked in soup kitchens, volunteered at the prevention centers with the children, worked with children with disabilities and taken them to the beach with their families, gone on house visits with the Social Workers, and volunteered in the Clinic. The group can expect to spend time working with ACAF as well as getting to know community members through events. A big part of the trip is also meeting community members of Chimbote; the volunteers from CSB/SJU are always welcomed with open arms and the community members look forward to their visit every year. Meeting the community members could involve attending activities such as a meeting for families who have children with disabilities and attending a meeting with the senior citizens of Chimbote.
  • Extra Fun: In the past participants have climbed the mountain to the chapel and/cross at the top and taken the children with disabilities and their families to the beach. Students have also gotten to explore downtown Chimbote at their outdoor mall and flea markets.
  • Focus: Learning, solidarity, poverty, cross-cultural awareness, and community

More info: Volunteer Handbook


Interested in applying? Apply here to apply to co-lead, here to apply to participate, and here to apply to advise!

Please note: $100 due with acceptance of a position!

 Any questions about this trip can be directed to Alternative Break Experiences at [email protected]