Otra Cosa Network

19 Project reviews of Otra Cosa Network

Project Details

OtraCosaNetwork is a registered Peruvian non-profit NGO that offers a variety of affordable and satisfying opportunities to well-motivated volunteers.

Who we are

Our mission is to support development in Northern Peru by connecting dedicated volunteers with local community projects. Our vision is for equal opportunities in Peru for everyone to succeed and thrive.

At Otra Cosa Network we connect suitable community led projects with willing, capable volunteers in a way that benefits both parties. Together, we aim to offer life changing support to the children and adults at the community-led projects we partner, and also a life changing development opportunity for our selected volunteers.

Our history

Otra Cosa began in September 2004 as a small, low-cost volunteering agency providing volunteers to a few, mainly local, projects. It was founded by Peter de Hond and Janneke Smeulders and run from their vegetarian restaurant. When the couple decided to return to the Netherlands in April 2007, Juany and Peter Murphy, a British-Peruvian couple, who lived in Huanchaco and had already been working with the organisation on a voluntary basis since August 2005, agreed to take it over and became the directors.

2009 was a big year for the organisation. Firstly, it underwent a change of name from Otra Cosa Volunteer Agency to Otra Cosa Network in order to reflect the network of people and projects that we work with. This was also the year that the organisation was officially registered as a Peruvian non-profit NGO with the APCI (Peruvian Association for International Cooperation) and other Peruvian bodies. In December of the same year, Juany and Peter decided to return to England for the sake of their sons’ education. However, they have continued to oversee OCN from the UK on a part-time basis – developing the organisation, networking within the UK, Europe and elsewhere and providing general guidance to staff in Peru. In parallel they appointed a full-time Operations Manager in Peru.

In January 2010 Otra Cosa Network became a UK registered Charity. After this we began to develop our own projects, to complement our partner projects, with the aim of fulfilling unmet needs in the local community. In early 2011 our HELP (Huanchaco Education and Learning Programme) projects began in earnest and although we had already been teaching English in the community since 2007, our HELP English programme sought to strengthen and coordinate our many and diverse English-language teaching projects. In a similar manner, although our skate ramp was built in early 2010, the emergence of the HELP Youth project (originally called HELP Community) sought to develop our existing skate ramp project into a social development project and involved us undertaking social impact research to uncover community needs and wants. At the end of 2011 we started our HELP Women project, aimed at empowering local women through an integral programme that provides them with legal, psychological and vocational skills. Our HELP Literacy project began in February 2013 when we received funding from LitWorld, a US-based non-profit organisation, to set up a reading club for girls, known as a LitClub. This has been such a success that it has since expanded to include several LitClubs both for girls and for boys. Most recently, in January 2014 HELP Environment became the latest addition to the HELP projects. This project was formed as a response to the many environmental issues affecting Huanchaco, such as the beach contamination, and the need for more environmental education and awareness within the local population. Meanwhile, the Peru team has grown, currently including two Assistant Managers supporting the Operations Manager to provide better support to the community, to our partner projects and to our volunteers.

We are proud of how far Otra Cosa Network has evolved over the past years and we are looking forward to what we can accomplish in the future.

Where we work

The District of Huanchaco is part of the Trujillo province in La Libertad region, Northern Peru. The district capital is Huanchaco town, a quiet, easy-going place that still retains its fishing-village ambience. Over the last three millennia, locals have stuck to traditional ways of fishing, going out on their caballitos de totora (traditional reed fishing boats), and using their nets to gather their catch for the day. The district is home to Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and Huanchaco town is a known surf destination. The argument that surfing derived from the pre-Incan caballito fishing traditions is so strong, that in 2013 Huanchaco was designated as a World Surfing Reserve.

In recent decades the District of Huanchaco has expanded exponentially due to migration from the highlands and the jungle by those looking for a better standard of living or forced from their homes by natural disasters such as the El Niño phenomenon in 1997/98. Many of these incomers live in the shanty towns surrounding Huanchaco and their daily reality is very different from many of those living just a ten minute walk away in the centre of the town. Unlike the town centre, these communities lack infrastructure – there are no paved roads, most households don’t have a sewage system and there is limited access to running water. Furthermore, having migrated from even poorer parts of the country, parents in these areas have often had limited access to education, and poverty and social problems are rife. All of this means that children growing up in these neighbourhoods are at a disadvantage from the outset and do not have access to the same educational opportunities as their more privileged counterparts.

In addition to our work in the Huanchaco area, we also work with two mountain village projects: one in Yanasara in the highlands of La Libertad region and one in Sícchezpampa in the highlands of Piura region.

Why choose us?

No matter where you find yourself in life, volunteering is a great opportunity to be a part of long-term contribution to the community, while at the same time gaining invaluable experience and knowledge of the local culture. Volunteering with Otra Cosa Network you will work in projects answering to the local needs, side by side other people driven by the same passion and interests as you!

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Sophia Robson
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

Our social impacts are both on the community and on the volunteer. We can see our significance by the gratitude of the participant. We provide support to our twenty five different volunteering initiatives which assist in the access and participation of children, women and men to education and training. Through our programmes, here are some examples of what we achieved in 2016: 

  • More than 500 students given English classes at school
  • Our skate ramp was open for more than 800 hours, providing a stimulating and safe environment for local children
  • We ran 5 literacy clubs, inspiring young people to take up reading and writing
  • We involved 134 local University students in our projects
  • We successfully installed hydroponic gardens in two local schools, in order to teach children about growing plants
  • Through our HELP Youth programme, we taught 26 children to swim in both the ocean and local swimming pool

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