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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
December 2, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Laurier International, Program

When 27 students from Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses went to Peru in August on a humanitarian trip, they had plans to beautify a daycare, tutor students and help at a maternity ward. They came home having accomplished so much more.

Team leader and Laurier International staff member, Jessie McCahill, said “the participants learned about community development and saw the value of giving differently after the experience.”

Laurier International has been partnering with Solidarity in Action (SIA) since 2007, and the program continues to grow, making the August trip the largest-ever contingent of Laurier students.

The group flew into Lima where they volunteered at placements, which were created based on the needs identified by the community. Volunteers taught at the daycare, volunteered at a maternity ward, helped children with special needs, volunteered at a medical centre, reconstructed the daycare and taught English to Peruvian teachers.  

“The community was so grateful. We even had children helping pass rocks to build the daycare play pad,” said McCahill. “It was amazing to see the group get together to make something happen.”

In the evenings, the group participated in different cultural experiences such as salsa dancing, Spanish lessons, trips to various districts of Lima, visits to the Inca markets, and sampling local food. They also participated in group discussions and invited community members to talk to the group about their stories of struggle. Some of those who shared their stories discussed migrating to Lima hoping to find work, but ended up living in shantytowns when they found no work.

“This was an opportunity to learn about what social justice means when working in a community,” said McCahill.

After volunteering in Lima, students participated in cultural activities, including a trip to Machu Picchu.

Solidarity in Action, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, connects with a social service agency in Lima called Solidaridad en Marcha. Solidaridad en Marcha runs a medical clinic, a preschool program and a maternity ward.

Three humanitarian trips are planned for 2011: Peru in May and August, and Ecuador in July. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are all invited to participate. For more information, email:

In 2009, Laurier’s Erin LaFramboise participated in a humanitarian trip to Peru. Click here to read her story.