Last month saw the end of an era at HOOP. An era shaped by one crazy American lady called Ali. If you’ve volunteered with us at any point in the past three and a half years, you will have met this incredibly dedicated person who has taken HOOP from its basic framework in 2013 to the multi-program NGO we are today. So, with Ali leaving her true home of Arequipa to move to the strange land of the USA, we decided to make this week’s blog a big, gushing, unreserved thank you to our boss of the past few years.
So how has HOOP changed during Ali’s time as Director? Quite simply, a lot. From improving the way we train our volunteers and setting out a clear and focused curriculum, to properly matriculating students, HOOP has made huge strides in improving the service we offer and the impact we have. The handover from one volunteer to another is smoother and more coordinated than ever, so several volunteers, over the course of a year, can work towards the same goal.
Outside of the classroom, Ali’s commitment to bringing the community in on how HOOP is run and the direction we take led to her setting up the Parents’ Board of Directors, which is voted in annually and meets up regularly. Encouraging the HOOP mums to give feedback on our programs and what they would like from us is now routine. While a couple of years ago, the mums would simply tell us what they thought we wanted to hear, they now feel confident enough to tell it like it is. In other words, Ali has given these amazing women a voice where they didn’t have one.
Empowering the community to help themselves, creating independence rather than dependence, has always been Ali’s long-term vision. So in 2015 she created an ambitious and exciting Social Work program and expanded our Psychology program to help meet the needs of the community and individuals who need regular, long-term support.
HOOP probably wouldn’t exist right now if Ali hadn’t stepped up and always completed tasks well beyond her initial job description. She led HOOP through many challenges throughout the NGO’s development and managed to always come out stronger on the other side. When HOOP was looking for new staff members to lead the NGO, two of HOOP’s co-founders, Li and Teresa, never expected to be so lucky to find somebody so dedicated, hard working and caring.
The office will be very different without Ali there to yell at us. So all that’s left is to say thanks Ali – we wish you all the best in future and good luck!
Keep an eye out for next week’s blog: Meet HOOP’s new Director!
Written by Tom with help from Teresa, Li and Silvia