This is probably the most important news published in this section since we started One Two Tree. We have double our work in Central America. Going forward, we will also teach in Guatemala. We used to have some work in this country, but it was focused on assisting another NGO and financing their projects. We will now have our own office and permanent Volunteer Coordinator working in Guatemala.
This week we signed the agreement with the Ministry of Education of Guatemala. We agreed to start teaching in August in the schools of Santiago Atitlan, a village West from Guatemala City and next to lake Atitlán.
What is it about?
We are basically replicating the model that we already have in place in Nicaragua by leveraging our experience teaching English and managing Volunteer groups. Regarding academics, we will have the same levels, tools and processes for both countries. Gary Carson, our Director in Nicaragua, will take care of all Academic matters. We will also centralize the admin work. All applications and questions raised through the website or Facebook will be dealt by Marta, our Volunteer coordinator. She will become the Volunteer responsible for the region.
Where are we in Guatemala?
The new project is in Santiago Atitlán. It´s the perfect location. Lake Atitlán brings thousands of tourists to the
towns of Panajachel, San Pedro and Santiago. It is a small city of 50,000 people with 90% of indigenous population. Most of these people do not speak much Spanish (their mother tongue is kaqchiquel), hence their access to a job is difficult. By teaching them English, we are giving the youth of Santiago much better expectations to find a job in the growing tourism industry. This will allow underprivileged people to benefit first from economic development.
Santiago Atitlán is surrounded by volcanos. Nature grows fast in every place free of concrete. In the mornings, fishermen paddle their wooden canoes over flat and calmed water. It is 1,625 meters over the sea level, this gives Santiago the perfect temperature even if located in Central America.
Why are we starting this project?
By starting up a project in Guatemala, we are basically taking the opportunity of doubling the number of beneficiaries without doubling the costs and resources. We already have processes, tools and experience, so we only need to increase the volume of work and scope. Of course, we will also incur a few additional cost like accommodation for the volunteer coordinator, internet or admin cost in Guatemala.
By increasing our scope we are also reducing the risk of having one only project for the whole organization. When we work in a single country, we are exposed to political changes in the person or institution allowing our work, also to our relationship (good or bad) with local partners. There is even a financial risk, as all our income is one currency and all our cost are in a different single currency. If we have two projects in separate countries, One Two Tree will always be ready to increase the work in one place if it decreases in the other.