Day 2 Antigua, Guatemala

Our first full day was even more eye-opening.  The agenda:

  • Visit the Impact Hub – this is a co-working facility where our folks would potentially work from similar to the WeWork model in the US.
  • Meet with Myra and Benecio from Kairos – a K-9 education center.
  • Meet with Mark and Gina from Centro Educativo Deepstream in Buena Vista.
  • Birthday party for Brian’s middle child – 4 YO today.

Walking about Antigua isn’t far from walking around certain parts of Charleston.  Historic, cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, pedestrians galore.  Antigua is quite a nice place with a much higher safety factor than the surrounding areas.  The impact hub is a great facility, lots of wifi, lots of nooks and crannies to work from and well-populated with a high variety of knowledge workers.  Positioned near universities and some of the nicer hotels it provides a great home base for future visits.  Apparently the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, the nicest hotel in Antigua hosted Bill Clinton during his presidency.  This hotel is a former convent and is built directly into the ruins from many centuries past.

After the hub visit, we moved on to visit with Myra and Benecio from Kairos.  This is an amazing school located in Cuidad Vieja just outside of Antigua.  Established in 2009 and accredited in 2010, this school is one of the few schools devoted to raising children in education from K-9th grade.  Upon graduation at 9th grade this school intends to push their graduates to high school where they can prepare for university.  We found out some astounding facts:

  • Less than 1% of children in Guatemala attend university.  Far fewer complete it.
  • Kids typically need to be sponsored to get their high school education.  This can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per student per year (typically 2 years).
  • Many parents are NOT supportive of their children being educated past 6th grade – the typical year where kids can start working alongside of their family (usually the father).
  • Clearly the barriers to getting an education are vast yet somehow, Myra and Benecio found a way to graduate 29 students last year with 28 proceeding to complete their high school education.

Our meeting was remarkable.  The connection for Torrent is real and viable yet not based in the offshoring principles. While a benefit, it is quickly overshadowed by the concept in investing in people. Hopefully we can hire graduates as interns until university educated and then as full-time resources for the longer haul.  This school realized that attracting kids at the youngest age (kindergarten) makes for better students and better graduation rates. Myra and Benecio believe strongly in the model requiring payment which invests their parents in the value of an education (a Poverty, inc value). 

At the end of the meeting Myra called a friend who supplied us with beans and rice and corn tortillas for all of us for 60Q or about $8. The food was spectacular and made even better by picking it up from a random corner in Antigua less than five minutes after the call was placed. 

Our next stop was to El Centro Educativo Deepstream, a school in Bueno Vista started by Daniel’s friends Mark and Gina. Bueno Vista is an extremely poverty-stricken village located 30 minutes and 1500 meters above Antigua. This school is an Oasis of hope. The school contains a public and private school in a three story building and part of the mission of two people called to serve the people of Guatemala. The conversation reconfirmed many of the same themes we heard in the 1.5 days of meetings.  Their energy eclipsed any we have seen so far. 

Tomorrow we visit Ecofiltre, a school, hold an interview with a marketing firm we may partner with in the future and our impact hub contact. Another full day. 

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