Local Nonprofits Share Common Ground With Education Work In Central America

Local Nonprofits Share Common Ground With Education Work In Central America
10 years ago Comments Off on Local Nonprofits Share Common Ground With Education Work In Central America
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Es un mundo pequeño.A small world, indeed.

That was evident as a few new friends gathered last week at Coffee Emporium to talk about making this world a better place in Cincinnati and beyond.

Cincinnatians are generous in giving to and getting involved in their community. But it goes beyond local.

Beyond, in this case, is Central America, where Cincinnati-based nonprofits and common causes are working to help children and families break the cycle of poverty through education and other community building projects.

We got involved with this when three University of Cincinnati students went on a spring break trip to Nicaragua as Charitable Words Scholars, a program that matches students interested in humanitarian work with nonprofits in Greater Cincinnati and around the globe.

Brandie Potzick, Kaytlyn Exeler and Kelsey Kennedy will be preparing a documentary about their work with Serve Beyond Cincinnati, including a water purification project, delivering animals to families, visiting orphanages and observing schools in and around Managua.

Word is getting around about Charitable Words’ interest in this and we got a call from friends of The Cooperative for Education, which creates sustainable textbook, computer center, reading and scholarship programs in Guatemala.

The nonprofit was founded in the 1990s by Joe and Jeff Beringer, who left jobs with IBM and Procter and Gamble to travel the world. Jeff ended up working on a book-publishing project in Guatemala. The education project started small, in one school serving 180 kids. Today, Cooperative Education supplies textbooks to 38,000 school children, said Development Director Holly End. More than 130,000 Guatemalan students have benefited from Coed’s programs over the last 17 years.

A question we hear often and asked:

Why so much work so far away, with so much to be done here at home?

“Giving in your local community and giving internationally are not mutually exclusive,” Holly said. “If you are going to give 10 dollars to charity, consider donating one of those dollars to Guatemala. It can have as much impact as the other nine. Money goes so much further in the developing world.”

She noted that the average cost to educate one child in the state of Ohio for a year is $9,000. The cost to provide all of CoEd’s projects (computers, textbooks, scholarships, teacher training) to a student in Guatemala is less than a tenth of that (approximately $840). The cost for just one of those averages less that $100. And CoEd’s programs are set up to ensure that after the initial investment, the community has the self-sustaining structure in place to keep the program going indefinitely.

Also at the meeting and new to town was Sarah Davis, whose husband Joshua founded Educate Nica, a nonprofit that partners with humanitarian programs in Nicaragua to provide education sponsorships to help impoverished children. Joshua was born in Uruguay to missionary parents and balances work as a freelance designer with frequent trips to South America. Joshua’s wife Sarah left a lifestyle of “glamour and nightlife” in Dallas to join Educate Nica as its executive director. They have made several trips and sponsored several students.

Sarah, who is new to the nonprofit world, said she plans to get involved in local work as she settles in to Cincinnati. But in the case of Educate Nica, the world came to her, and changed hers.

“I had an opportunity to do something,” she said. “I had the skills and they were needed. I hope to continue to use those skills to help my community.”

While Charitable Words believes the best giving begins at home, there is great value in allowing students the opportunity to explore and find solutions to global challenges. The lessons learned can only benefit them, the world and the places they return to.

We’re not sure where this all may lead. Certainly there will be an event in which the Charitable Words Scholars present their documentary and talk about their work in Nicaragua. New friends mentioned here will be invited and may participate in some way. They also have their own events and projects and Charitable Words will be involved in some way going forward.

Meanwhile, if you have contacts or know about any other people working in this space – in the past few days I’ve received emails suggesting Rotary, Catholic Charities, Su Casa, St. Leo The Great Catholic Church and others. With an estimated 60,000. Hispanic immigrants in Greater Cincinnati – 16 percent from Guatemala – there’s likely a lot going out there we need to know more about.

For example, as we wrapped up our discussion at Coffee Emporium, we happened upon the current edition of City Beat. There was a story about the coffee house’s owners, Tony Tausch and Eileen Schwab, who are involved in several international partnerships. Included, no surprise: A barista/farmer exchange in Guatemala.

A small world, indeed. And in Cincinnati, some big hearts.

Charitable Words.

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