HOOP has worked with this community for several years, and straight away when I arrived I could really feel the positive relationship that HOOP staff have with the community members. I think this is a great foundation that the charity has, and I found it really encouraging and impressive that the staff are trying to work with the families to find out what their opinions are and what types of programs they want HOOP to focus on for maximum impact in the community. For me, it was important to choose a charity that works in this way, involving the families and being guided by their views.
The families were such a pleasure to get to know, and it feels a real privilege to have been able to spend time teaching English / health&wellbeing / finance / business to the mums and kids. Whatever we all thought we could teach or contribute to the community´s development, I think we all ended up learning and gaining so much more ourselves through the experience of volunteering at HOOP.
During my four months volunteering with HOOP, among other things I was involved in doing the inductions at the start of their placement and the exit surveys at the end of their placement, and countless volunteers said to me as they neared the end of their time at HOOP "I don´t want to leave!"... Some stayed for longer than they had planned to, and others decided to come back to HOOP another time. I think this shows what a great experience it is.
In terms of what you can expect your day to be like... I´d say you´ll spend a couple of hours in the mornings getting ready for your classes and then you might want to have lunch with the other volunteers, and then you´ll spend the afternoons 2pm to 7pm at the school or travelling to and from the school, as the program is right on the outskirts of town. And then in the evenings we´d often have dinner together or learn salsa dancing or do fundraising events in the city.
I would really recommend staying for at least three months, as everyone who volunteered for one month during my time at HOOP told me that they were disappointed to be leaving at just the very moment when they had got to know the individuals in their class and had found the best ways of engaging them in the lessons. Those who stayed longer said that their second month was a great period of feeling you really know what you´re doing and you can see the progress that your students are making, and then the third month brought another level of closeness to the families and a tangible improvement in their level of Spanish.
In case you´re worried about the cost of staying longer, I´d say that it´s actually the flights that cost the most, so staying longer will add only marginal costs and could make you feel that you got better value out of the money you spent on the flights. The cost of living here is really low - in my experience, if you´re staying in long-term accommodation and cooking all of your own meals, you can get by on a budget of 30soles (10USD) per day!