Walter Meekes in Peru

| Johan van Rijswijck

The HoPe Foundation is a development and aid organisation of and for the people of Cuzco and the villages in the Andes. Since the start of Sapa Pana Travel in 2003, we have been promoting the necessary work of the HoPe Foundation.

My introduction to Walter

The HoPe Foundation was founded in 1991 by Walter and Tineke Griffioen and focuses, among other things, on the development of education in the remote mountain villages around Cuzco. In 2010 I personally got to know Walter well while preparing for the Panamericana Roadtrip, where the following year we drove 83 classic Volvo's from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires to the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias. Because we had linked Foundaiton HoPe as a 'charity' to this trip, Walter was invited to tell more about his work in Peru. At the end of the meeting we had a little talk when he asked me if I already had my guidance team complete. He saw himself as the missing link and I didn't have to think long about that, because I couldn't think of a better team member. He was fluent in Spanish, knew the culture, knew how to organise things and I knew that he had worked as a tour guide before settling permanently in Peru in 1991. Besides that, Walter turned out to be just a nice guy and a huge music fan, so I could have that in the car.

In the car with The Rolling Stones

We are now 10 years on, we have travelled many thousands of kilometres together through South America and got to know Walter as a very nice person, with a big heart. He has a passion for travelling and discovering new cultures, where he likes to photograph people. He prefers to travel over land by car, where anyone who dares to set up The Beatles kindly requests to get out, because there is basically only one British band of significance and those are The Rolling Stones.

HoPe Foundation - Holanda Peru

At the beginning of the 1990s, Peru suffered extreme and senseless violence between terrorist groups on the one hand and the army and police on the other. Nobody knew who was friend or enemy, and nobody was sure of his life in the dirty war that was being fought throughout the country. That is when the HoPe Holanda-Peru Foundation came into being. Peruvians living in extreme poverty hardly had any chance to improve their own situation but wanted to do so. The Dutch Tineke Griffioen and Walter Meekes came to live in Cuzco at the time to support and further expand the citizens' initiative.

During the first seven years, projects were carried out in the disadvantaged neighbourhoods themselves under the leadership of Tineke and Walter. Schools were set up and supported. Water pipes and sewers were installed. In a kitchen, the mothers and Tineke prepared healthy and nutritious meals for more than 100 children every day. The children and the women made products that were sold through the world shops in the Netherlands. This enabled them to escape the extra poverty.

Dankzij HoPe kunnen duizenden kinderen naar school.

Lessons in Quechua and Spanish

Since 1997, attention has shifted from the suburbs of Cuzco to the indigenous villages of the Andes Mountains. The indigenous villages had little or no education. The HoPe Foundation has built more than 160 schools, most of them in remote mountain villages. A four to five hour walk to visit a village was no exception. For one village the staff of the foundation even had to walk seven hours. Thanks to the HoPe Foundation thousands of children from remote areas have gained access to good primary and secondary education.

The schools were given toilets and showers with solar hot water. More than 200 schools received good school furniture. The tables and chairs were made in the technical school of HoPe by the pupils themselves. The HoPe Foundation developed bilingual intercultural education. This is based on the native language and culture of the indigenous villages. Teaching methods and teaching materials were drawn up in Quechua and in Spanish. It is no coincidence that Quechua is also the language to which Sapa Pana Travel (your unique journey) owes its name.

To good education

Nowadays the government has taken over almost all the educational programmes of the HoPe Foundation. It promotes bilingual, intercultural education and publishes its own teaching materials in the various languages that Peru knows. HoPe focuses on improving the quality of public education.

Contact us for more information

For more information about this interview, a visit to Peru or HoPe Foundation, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you. Send an e-mail to or call us on +31 73 610 62 04. We are happy to help.