Volunteering in Peru: A year of being inspired

Before I came to HOOP in May 2015, I was sure of one thing: that I wasn’t sure where I’d go next. And that was just how I liked it. Long story short, I was at a point in my life where I was ready to explore new avenues and have new adventures, instead of staying in one place for too long and getting bored again. I’d always moved around a lot and loved it, and getting stuck in the same place for over 10 years was making my travel bone itch (that’s the hard-to-reach one just underneath your left shoulder-blade).

So I took the CELTA course in Spain aiming to spend the next 10 years or more travelling the world teaching English, when circumstance (fate?) brought me on the path of an NGO based in Arequipa, Peru. Interest piqued, I proceeded to Google everything I could about this NGO and got inspired by the work that they did and how they were doing it. The whole principle of not just providing free English lessons, building a school, providing books, and then going home – although amazing, and kudos to other NGOs doing just that! But furthermore, HOOP works with the families to improve their way of life through social programs, providing scholarships for outstanding students and educating the mothers on subjects relevant to them (from health and social hygiene to abuse in the home, how to deal with monetary issues and how to stand up for themselves when dealing with recalcitrant officials). In essence, HOOP stays with them throughout their educational career even after they’ve moved on from the HOOP school, and constantly works to raise money to help these people help themselves… you cannot help but get inspired!

Now if you’ve read any of the previous blog posts, you’ll have gotten to know some of the people that have worked or are still working for HOOP. You’ll know about the wonderful people from all over the world who’ve come to give their time and money (because unpaid, of course) to help the children and families of Flora Tristán create a better future for themselves. You’ll know about the amazing professionals giving their expertise in social work, psychology, dentistry, marketing, and organization, often up to 10 hours a day if not more, because their jobs never end.


So what’s my inspirational story? I don’t know if I can inspire anyone but I’ll tell you what happened to me here. Working every day at the school with children who live in 1-room shacks, who don’t have money to ‘waste’ on tooth paste or *gulp* smartphones and internet access (and yes I rate that higher than toothpaste, which tells you a lot about me and my teeth unfortunately), whose fathers have abandoned them or, worse in my eyes, are terrorizing the family because life has made them reach for the bottle… all of that and more: seeing the other volunteers work and laugh and really care about what they were doing. Being exposed to this on a daily basis will do something to a person, and it showed me that I wanted to do more to help these kids be the best they could be, even if I had to reach down their throats and yank it out of them!

And after almost a whole school year here, I believe I haven’t done too badly by them but I still want more. HOOP and its people have made me want to be the best I can be, and given me the room to progress as a teacher and as a person. I’ve been able to design a teaching format attuned to our school which, although just basic, hopefully can help future teaching volunteers with their teaching. I’ve been given the opportunity and encouragement to share my thoughts and ideas on how to make things better, and it’s made me want to do more more MORE!

So from not knowing where I’ll go next and, I’ll repeat, quite happy with that state of insecurity or as I like to call it ‘adventure’, I’ve been inspired. And this inspiration won’t let go. It’s taking me in a wholly unexpected direction, and a whole new adventure called: educational sciences. I want to learn how to develop teaching methods specific to any environment possible, and the poorer environments like Flora Tristán especially. To have every tool at my disposal to help these kids be the best they can be. So they can go on to inspire others.

Thank you HOOP.

Written by Jojo.

Find out more about volunteering with HOOP here.

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