Kaimuki Volunteer Aids Peru Recovery
What did Kaimuki’s Shannon Ng do when faced with the question that confronts all college grads: What next? She headed to Peru to build houses for earthquake victims, of course.
“I was almost a year out of college and I still was not ready to commit to a long term, full-time job,” explained the 23year-old. “During that year out of college I discovered a real passion for volunteering abroad.”
Just out of UH Manoa with a sociology degree, Ng got the idea to do community volunteer work and found the perfect fit: Pisco Sin Fronteras, the most affordable opportunity for volunteer work in South America, and fluent Spanish was not required. Also, the group needed construction and manual labor — just what Ng was looking for.
Pisco Sin Fronteras was formed after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake decimated Pisco, a town on the west coast of Peru, just south of Lima. Eighty percent of the town was leveled, leaving nearly 600 dead and 40,000 families homeless. A year after the 2007 earthquake, residents were still in makeshift homes without electricity or running water. Enter PSF. Then last April Ng made her first trip, helping out for one month. It was so
addictive, she returned in July and stayed for four months. She’s home now, working as an administrative support specialist at UH in order to save up enough money to go back to Pisco in March, but this time for six months.
“The long-term volunteers are a big part of the backbone of PSF,” Ng explained, “and many new volunteers look to the long-termers for guidance.”
She was among 50 volunteers who built homes, poured cement, t aught English, cared for keiki, cooked meals, reclaimed wood and built tables and desks from it. “I had never constructed any type of furniture,” she admitted. “With guidance from fellow volunteers, I learned how to create a table from start to finish. I put scraps of wood together with a hammer and nails, sanded it down and painted it. The best part was when I went back to PSF for the second time and got to see the tables in use at the community center.
“I’ve seen so many volunteers come from various backgrounds — advertising, teaching, banking — and leave PSF as skilled volunteers and leaders. To help a family build a home, to see a project from start to finish, to be able to know that you really are making a difference, is an incredible feeling.
“I never thought I would call somewhere outside of Hawaii ‘home,’ but PSF has truly become like a second home and family to me.”
Kaimuki resident Shannon Ng (center, with scarf), joins fellow volunteers to help a local man dig a trench for new water pipes he will install to the new home he’s building for his family in Pisco, Peru. Thousands of villagers there are still recovering from a 2007 earthquake. Photo from Shannon Ng.