I came to Arequipa to work with HOOP as a volunteer English teacher. I am in the middle of my teaching accreditation programme in Austria and needed a break from school and theory in order to actually step into the classroom and also see other educational realities around the world.
What I cared about was for the NGO to be close to where the impact should be made and for the staff and the volunteers to care most about the children and women in the community.
From the application process to the moment I arrived in Arequipa, the inicial teaching training and the ongoing support and supervision opportunities I received throughout my 4 month placement, HOOP has been nothing but professional. The volunteer coordinator is extremely concerned about the volunteers' wellbeing, while the academic coordinator helps out and gives useful advice whenever it is needed, as a lot of the volunteers came here without direct teaching experience. Every week, we have a volunteer meeting where we share our experiences and struggles teaching, get valuable input from the academic coordinator and help each other improve. There are check-in interviews to make sure everything is going well and the organization can respond to suggestions for improvement.
The children are a pleasure to work with and embrace you in their midst from day on, the mothers are just happy and grateful to be able to see their kids thrive. (Another pillar of HOOP are workshops for the moms on topics of health, legal issues etc. They also have an opportunity to finish their middle school/high school diplomas. But all of this is done by social workers so I can't go into detail about it.) One of my highlights was when we performed "The very hungry caterpillar" as a play - during project week we had learned the story, made costumes and rehearsed it. The mothers were very touched to see their little ones and the kids took it very seriously and were proud to show off their learning.
It was honestly one of the greatest things I've ever done, I was very, very happy with HOOP and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to offer their time to make a difference. It's a lovely team, you receive so much support, and the work with the kids is rewarding every single day.