Oh. My. Goodness. I keep thinking things are going to calm down so I have time to write a proper blog, but I just don't know when that's going to happen!!
I am now the first official volunteer for HOOP! I am the volunteer coordinator, although while we don't have volunteers to coordinate, while we are still connected to TNT for the next few weeks, I am doing all kinds of things. Right now I am working with the rest of the HOOP staff (Priya, Carmen, Teresa, and Li) and an organizational psychologist to design exactly how we want our organization to be structured. He asks us questions we would never think to ask ourselves, about what exactly we want, what problems we may encounter, how to be sustainable, etc. It is quite a brain work out, and all in my ever-worse Spanish. (I moved out of the volunteer house and live in a room below a family's apartment in an attempt to improve my Spanish, but I am never there so I have yet to practice and continue speaking English most of the day.) He is only here for a week so we have been doing a lot of work on it.
I also have been doing a lot of diagnostic research. A diagnostic is the first step in creating an NGO, as you have to get a complete profile of the area you want to work in and their needs. I am doing international and national research on statistics about things like domestic violence, literacy, drug addiction, alcoholism, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, child trafficking, prostitution, and racism. I love doing research and it has been a fascinating process, although at times very depressing to read some of the statistics. One I just read is that in Peru, 51% of all urban women and 69% of all rural women will experience physical or sexual violence during their lives. Really depressing, but unfortunately not that surprising. The social worker that is working with us on the diagnostic is doing regional reasearch down, from Southern Peru, Arequipa state, Arequipa city, Cono Norte, Flora Tristan, and then administering surveys to the community based on what information we find out.
Depending on what information the diagnostic uncovers, we may be doing a completely different project by the end of the year. We do know that the areas we want to work in are Education, Families/Communities, and Health.
The website is so close to being launched, and when we do I will post it all over everywhere and make a facebook page! You will be able to check it all out, including our snappy new logo.
I am still teaching English for pay at El Cultural and enjoying it. I am making enough money to live and eat real food--not just bread! I have yet to buy a plane ticket back home and I'm going to start raising money for that. I am asking for $900 so I can come home in September! If you would like to donate but you can't really afford it, I would gladly accept a loan that I could pay you back when I get back to Seattle and start working. Just write in the paypal note that this is a loan, or shoot me an email.
Also if you would like to donate to HOOP, while we do not have a bank account set up yet, you can donate using my paypal and I will give the money to HOOP.
I'll keep keeping you updated with everything and I miss you all,