New volunteering project in Guatemala

This is probably the most important news we have announced in this section since One, two…Tree! was born. We have doubled our projects in Central America. From now on, we will also teach English in Guatemala. Before we had a project to finance and support another NGO in this country, now we will have an office with a permanent coordinator managing the volunteer work of our own organization.
This week we signed the collaboration agreement with the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and as of August we will enter the public school classrooms of Santiago Atitlán, a town west of Guatemala City on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

What is it?

The idea is to repeat the model we have in Nicaragua, taking advantage of our experience teaching English and managing groups of volunteers. On the academic side, we will have thesame levels, tools and processes for both countries. Gary Carson, our Director in Nicaragua, will handle all study issues. We will also centralize the administration of the project. All applications, questions or concerns we receive on the web or on Facebook will be answered by Marta Gonzalez, our volunteer coordinator. Marta will become the overall responsible for the project in both countries.

Where are we?

The project is in Santiago Atitlán. It’s the perfect place. Lake Atitlán attracts thousands of tourists to the cities of Panajachel, San Pedro and Santiago Atitlán. Santiago is a small city of 50,000 inhabitants of which 90% are indigenous. Many of them have a low level of Spanish (their mother tongue is Kaqchiquel), so their access to the job market is difficult. By teaching them English, we open up to these young people the opportunities that tourism has brought to their region, so that it is the less disadvantaged who previously benefited from economic growth.

Santiago Atitlán is surrounded by volcanoes. Nature grows strongly in every concrete-free hole. In the mornings, fishermen row over wooden canoes with the water as a dish. It’s at 1,625 meters above sea level, so it has the perfect temperature despite being in Central America.

Why do we open a new project?

By starting a project in Guatemala, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to double the number of beneficiaries without doubling the costs and efforts. We already have the processes, the tools and experience, so it is only a matter of expanding the workload and, of course, assuming some additional expenses such as accommodation for the coordinator, internet or administration costs in the new country.

By expanding the work we also reduce the risk of exposing the NGO to a single project. When we only work in one country, the project can be paralyzed by changes in the institutional or political decision-making position, also by our relationship with local organizations or even by financial risk, since all our expenses are in one currency while our income is in a different currency.  By having two projects, one in each country, One, two… tree! will always be prepared to expand work in one region when it is reduced in the other.