Who we are

There are currently over 40 volunteers around the world who are giving up their time to tell stories and do other online learning activities with Palestinian and Syrian children and their teachers through the Hands Up Project…

Aleydis Delforge

I’ve been teaching English and Dutch for 20 years. I teach adults in EPFC, a school for adult education in Brussels, Belgium. I love the creative part of my work and try to use interactive teach in g methods such as games and stories. In 2016 I started volunteering for the Hands Up project doing weekly internet sessions with a group of Palestinian school girls and their teacher.

Alex Guzik

I teach English to children and teenagers at Follow Me to English, a private school of English, in Krasnodar, Russia. I’ve been teaching for 10 years and particularly enjoy working with stories and role-plays in my classes. Through the Hands Up Project I do a weekly session with groups of girls at Beit Hanoun elem co_ed “A” school, Gaza. I enormously value the experience of working with the enthusiastic teacher Sahar and the incredibly cheerful girls.

Alina Uka

I recently completed my CELTA course and teach general english classes at International House, London. As an International Development graduate, I strongly hold the belief that education is the key to empowering individuals, which aligns with the values of The Hand Up Project. Through teaching weekly sessions with a mixed group class in Rafah, I’m developing my teaching career and also thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Amadeu Marin
I’ve been in TEFL for over 30 years. As I get more experienced and progress in my career I feel more and more passionate about teaching, and I get more and more fun out of it. I think the reason I’m enjoying myself progressively in the classroom is I’ve gradually moved away from institutionalised teaching, meaning things like syllabuses, textbooks and exams, to embrace a more creative teaching approach, which starts from the learners themselves, their lives and their expressive needs. I’m convinced that learning comes naturally to human beings, and also that we learn more and better in groups. Social learning is facilitated these days by LT. I’m very excited to be able to join the HUP!
Ani Aloyan

I teach English to teenagers at Ayb middle school in Armenia. I am also a senior teacher-trainer at British Council Armenia. I’ve been teaching English for about 6 years and spent 2 years of my career in Lebanon with IH Beirut.  I enjoys spicing up each lesson with games and activities to motivate the students even more. Through the Hands Up Project I do a weekly session with a group of 5th grade girls and boys in Gaza and enjoy storytelling and cultural exchange with the kids.

Becca Young

Having taught ESL in Morocco for three years, my current assignment is in eastern Indonesia, teaching ethics and feminist theology to graduate students. Participating in Hands Up has been thrilling. I’m in awe at the cleverness and sophistication of the students’ thinking. They show how amazing the human mind can be if given a chance. Because the students have freedom to let their imaginations soar, nothing can limit them:  not age, gender or life circumstance.

I am retired, my wife has recently passed away on Valentine’s Day last year.  She was loved the middle east and worked with a lovely lady called Jahda Abou Khalil from Lebanon and worked in Egypt , Jordan, Syria, Lebanon.  I wish to continue her legacy and am delighted to be liaising with a family in Hebron.  I could do better.  My own working life was always in the construction industry where I finished my last 30 years managing major projects for a variety of people, mostly very large projects.  I sing in a harmony group, church bell ring.  I have been married more than once and have four children but one has died. I have six grandchildren and 1 great grandson.  I live in a wonderful are of England called Devon near the Dartmoor national park

Caroline Aragão

I teach English to children, teenagers and adults in São Paulo, Brazil. I’ve been teaching for 5 years and particularly like working with cross-cultural matters and stories based on folklore in my classes. Through the Hands Up Project I do a weekly session with a group of girls in Kufur Trulth Secondary Girls’ School, Nablus and I really enjoy the experience.

Conrado Abreu Chagas

I work as an English teacher at Instituto Federal Sul-Rio-Grandense – Câmpus Charqueadas, Brazil. I’ve taught English for more than 20 years now, and I particularly enjoy working with groups of teenagers. Through the Hands Up Project I do a weekly session with a group of about 15 boys and girls in Rafah, Gaza I and really value the experience.

Dennis Newson

At 82, and after a TEFL career that took me to five countries, ending up and resident in Germany, I now allow myself not to do any regular teaching – except  Zooming to Hebron once a week to help 13-year-old Lina with her English. Her mother and her older brother and younger sister regularly join in too.

Divya Madhavan

Divya Madhavan has been an English teacher for 18 years and is currently Head of EMI Training at CentraleSupélec, Université Paris-Saclay. She degrees from the Universities of Warwick, London and Exeter in various aspects of language education and is a Life Fellow of the RSA. In her day job, she does language development for scientists and engineers and experiments with various pedagogical activities that bring science and language education closer together. She is also currently a part-time student on the UC Berkeley Extension Program where she’s studying Grammar, Mechanics and Usage and not always finding it easy to get her homework done!  She feels very privileged to start her every week with her wonderful teaching partner Eman Salam Hammad in Gaza and a gorgeous group of ten year old girls. And she is very proud to be a volunteer for the Hands Up Project.

Edoardo Barzaghi

I work as an Arabic language teacher at Sharek Centre London. In the past 3 years I’ve been teaching also English, Italian and French languages to adults and children in the UK. For the Hands Up Project I’m teaching a class of 11 girls at Qurtuba School in Hebron. I like picture-based activities and to incorporate drama and storytelling into my lessons.

Efi Tzouri
I am a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of Aristotle University in Greece. Having done studies both in Liverpool John Moores University and Royal Holloway University of London I am specialised in Theatre Education and Theatre Production. I am keen on working with youngsters’ theatre groups and refugee learners. I have been teaching English for more than 16 years. I have taken part in a digital storytelling project called Storieschest sponsored by Future Library and Niarchos Foundation in Greece. Currently, I am teaching English to young learners, teenagers and adults and doing a Master’s degree course on Language Education for Refugees and Migrants.
Elizabeth Butterworth

I live in the south of England very near the sea. I enjoy walking along the sea front. I like to see the big waves when it is stormy. I am a part time teacher working with adults in the community.  My hobby is archery but I need to do more practise! Once a week is not enough if you want to get better. I am also trying to learn Italian. I go to an evening class.  I enjoy baking for my family. 

Emma Gowing

I started working with the Hands Up Project in 2018 and have loved working with the creative students and dedicated teachers in Gaza. It’s a great cross-cultural learning experience for all involved. Aside from my weekly class with Hands Up, I am Director of Studies and teacher trainer at International House Buenos Aires – Belgrano.

Emi Slater

I’m a teacher trainer, EFL teacher and Drama/EAL workshop leader currently working in London, Coventry and Oxford. I have over 20 years experience teaching English as a Foreign language to adults and young learners and 11 years experience directing and producing international theatre projects with Perpetual Motion Theatre. I’m a creative writing mentor for Freedom from Torture and a published theatre journalist. I am currently working with Rafah Elite girls and I’m amazed by their motivation and focus.

Filip Rakocevic

I teach all those who are eager to learn. I’ve been teaching for 5 years in Queen Victoria Education & Translations, Belgrade, and I’m constantly seeking new ways to make learning a more enjoyable experience. English has changed my life for the better and now, through the Hands Up Project, I’d like to give something back.

Gill Hollis

My name is Gill and I am a primary trained teacher, now specialising in one-to-one tuition and teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). I’m based in the Midlands in the UK. My great passion is to teach ESOL and to make the English language accessible and enjoyable to everyone who tries to speak it. I’ve taught ESOL in a variety of venues including community centres, church halls and a salad factory. All the time, my desire is to make it as fun as possible. When I’m not teaching, my favourite thing to do is to curl up on the sofa with a fiction book: so what better way to indulge my two passions than to use storytelling to teach English? I can’t wait to get started with a class…
Helen Rountree

I started working with the hands up project in 2017 and through it I’ve met inspiring students and teachers from many different places in Palestine. Singing, telling stories and drawing creative pictures with HUP students is the highlight of my week! I have worked in ESL for six years including the last 2 as Assistant Director at International House Bydgoszcz, Poland. I am now a freelance teacher trainer.

Iwan Kusha

I work with an entertainment agency in Devon, England. I love storytelling and theatre improvisation, and the Hands Up Project has made me very curious about exploring techniques of storytelling via a computer screen. With the Gaza school kids I’ve seen more talent, enthusiasm and hunger to learn than ever before and this has been truly inspiring.

Jane Cleary

I’m a senior lecturer working in teacher-training and English language teaching at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the UK. I’ve been working in teaching since 2001. At the moment, I’m enjoying doing a weekly session with a class in Rafa, Gaza. Teaching the group gives me a chance to work with younger learners, try out storytelling and story making materials  and develop my online educator skills.  The girls and the teachers in Gaza are so warm and enthusiastic and motivated – it’s a real pleasure to work with the Hands Up Project!

Jon Turner

I teach general studies at a public university in the United Arab Emirates. I’ve been teaching for 25 years and have worked all over the world. For the Hands up Project I work with high school students in Palestine, working with storytelling. In smaller groups the children there also get to know my own school age kids through shared activities.

Julietta Schoenmann

I’m a teacher and a teacher trainer, who works in a number of different countries around the world supporting teachers in their continuing professional development. I’m enjoying working with a class of Grade 5 students at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan and I like to teach the girls songs, chants and to act out stories together.

Kirsty Robbins

I am currently studying for my Masters in Management and English language teaching. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have had the chance to teach English in Chile, Colombia and Italy, as well as working for summer camps in England. While studying I’m teaching English online for Chinese students. I was inspired by Nick’s talk at our University last semester and the work that the Hands Up! project does, I really wanted to become involved and have loved it since I started.

Larissa de Mello

I teach English at Red Balloon in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’ve been teaching for 2 years and wholeheartedly enjoy working with kids & teens. I think teaching goes beyond academic content and it’s more about having someone to rely on and exchange experiences. Only then it’s possible to truly learn. Through The Hands Up Project I follows this ideology by telling stories and playing games weekly in a session with a mixed group in Gaza.

Liam Orr
I am an ESOL lecturer at a Further Education college in my hometown, London, and have also taught English in Hong Kong and Vietnam. I love that in my work, as well as teaching, I can learn about different cultures and languages. I enjoy incorporating lots of visual stimulants into my classes, such as videos, images and realia.
Lauren Edmondson

I am an Australian primary school teacher currently working towards a Masters in International Development. I have been a teacher for 4 years having worked in Fiji and Cambodia.  In my teaching career I developed a love of story telling and the messages that can be learnt by children. Through the Hands Up Project, I have had the great pleasure of working with a wonderful teacher and her class in Palestine. Each week we play drama games and role-play. Seeing the girls’ confidence grow during our time together has been an incredible highlight. The reflective relationship that I have developed with the teacher and the enthusiasm showed by the students makes each lesson an incredibly valuable experience.

Madeeha Manzur Sultan

I am currently working as Head Teacher at SLS Montessori and High School Primary Campus in Pakistan. On a weekly basis, I connect my students in Pakistan with students in Palestine. The most interesting part about this work is that my students belong to two different cultures and speak different languages. This allows me to engage them in many activities where they get to learn a lot about each other and of course learn English too!

Maria Jesus Inostroza

I am a Chilean teacher of English, storyteller and teacher educator with over 10 years of teaching experience working with children. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Concepción, and a member of the Network of Chilean  Research in ELT (RICELT). Through The Hands Up Project I have been able to explore the power of storytelling to engage in children’s experiences in Gaza.

Mark El-Kadhi

I worked teaching English for around 20 years in Spain, Poland and the UK. Now working through HUP wth a boys’ class in Rafah once a week from my home in Devon in the South West of England, I enjoy using stories and discussing the messages they can teach us.

Megan Land

I am 14 and currently undertaking my first year of GCSE’s. I started volunteering for the Hands Up Project at the end of 2019 as part of my silver Duke of Edinburgh award. I love helping out here and talk to a group of girls my age at a school in Palestine once a week. It is fascinating, and I love learning about the differences between their lives and school and mine.

Michael Loader
I’m a teacher, storyteller and performer who works with people of all ages in a variety of settings including, education, mental health, adults with learning disabilities, charity and community projects. My creative work abroad has involved children’s homes in Romania, street theatre in East Germany, adult workshops in Spain, facilitation with corporations in Switzerland and a British Council Arts project in Palestine in 2018. I’m storyteller in residence in St George’s Bristol, director of Somerset Storyfest and a storyteller in children’s hospitals with the Read For Good charity. I also like blowing the trumpet!
Nick Bilbrough

I’m a teacher, a teacher trainer, and an author of books for language teachers. I have an MA in Drama in Education from the University of Central England and 25 years experience in the field of teaching English as a foreign language. I do at least one session a week with HUP and am consistently blown away by the enthusiasm, the energy and the drive to reach out by Palestinian and Syrian children.

Parisa Mehran
I’m doing my PhD at Osaka University, Japan on Computer Assisted Language Learning. Before moving to Japan, I taught English courses at Alzahra University, Iran. I currently teach part-time at several Japanese universities in the Kansai area. I am also an English tutor at Paper Airplanes and I have weekly English classes with an amazing Syrian student based in Damascus. I really look forward to my classes with Palestinian kids through the Hands Up Project.
Paul Dummett

I live in Oxford, UK, where I write English coursebooks and methodology books for National Geographic Learning. I’m interested in how images and stories can help make learning more memorable. For Hands up project, I have weekly classes with groups in Gaza City and Beit Hanoun. In 30 years of teaching, they’re probably the most enjoyable and rewarding classes I’ve ever had.

Penny Burgess

I’m a photographer based in Birmingham, UK.  For many years I taught English to children and adults  in France, Germany and Luxembourg before joining the teaching team at Brasshouse Language Centre in Birmingham.  I’ve recently started to work with a large group of girls in Hebron and I’m looking forward to sharing stories, photographs and experiences. I enjoy using photos, songs and games in class.

Phoebe Graham

I am 22 years old and have recently graduated with an integrated Masters degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Bristol and McGill University in Montréal. In my spare time, I love reading, writing, learning, singing, theatre and meeting new people in new cultures. This year, I would like to spend more time swimming the sea. I have worked as a Hands Up Project volunteer since September 2019, and am so looking forward to seeing this exceptional initiative blossom and grow.
Polly Barsdell

My name is Polly and I live in the South of England. I have been teaching for nearly 30 years and love it. I have been lucky enough to travel to over 50% of the countries in the world, so am now trying to make 75%. I haven’t been to Palestine but its definitely on my list. In my spare time I walk my dogs on the beach or nearby hills. I also love jigsaws, reading, cooking and hanging out with friends.

Rebecca Lemaire

I am Belgian-British, an English teacher, teacher trainer and storyteller. I tell stories to children and adults in English, Spanish and French wherever the wind takes me. My passion is to look into people’s eyes, and travel with them through stories. I tell stories in schools, prisons, theatres and online with the wonderful, motivated and motivating students of Gaza who have also told me their own stories. Storytelling is a form of communication that goes way beyond words; it is a heart to heart interaction, and that is why I love it!

Rosalia Leone

I’m a History and Philosophy teacher to teenagers in Palermo (Italy). I’m passionate about the English language and storytelling.   Through the Hands Up Project, I do a weekly Sunday session with teacher Abrahim and a group of 12 boys, at Library Al Bahrain, in Gaza. It is a real honour to be part of HUP and  I have a lot of fun doing it.

Rose Aylett
I am a teacher, trainer and CELTA tutor based in Liverpool in the UK. Much of my teaching experience over the last twelve years has been in the Middle East and North Africa, although this is the first time I’ve taught in Palestine. Zooming in to a library in Gaza every week adds a special dimension to my work. I honestly don’t know who is learning more – me, or the super-enthusiastic girls and boys in my Jabalya after-school storytelling club.
Sandra Olmeda
I’ve been teaching English to teens and adults since 2009, always looking for new, fun and interesting ways to approach a second language. This work is very important to me especially knowing that in developing countries such as mine a second language improves the chances of my students to have better future. I’ve learned that the easiest way to learn is through storytelling. This is what brought me to The hands up project where I have had a great opportunity to tell stories, enjoy teaching and share moments with wonderful kids and teachers .
Sara Wood

I’m an English teacher working with children, teens & adults in Palma de Mallorca. I’m thrilled to work alongside teachers in Palestine whose resourcefulness and tenacity never ceases to amaze me. Their students bring a smile to my face every week with their willingness to participate!

Yvonne Godfrey
Yvonne Godfrey

I’ve been teaching English for many years in a variety of countries, starting with primary school children in France and most recently adults in Istanbul where I’ve lived for the last seven years. I’m currently travelling in Greece on an extended trip, and happily connecting with a group of girls and their teacher in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan on a weekly basis. The students are great and it feels good to be able to make this connection and to adapt to new ways of doing things. Thumbs up to Hands up.

7 thoughts on “Who we are

  1. This project is really a fantastic one. I adore it so much. But I have a very question here , why don’t you bring this project into Egypt.


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