Give it a Try: Building a Foundation for Education

Submitted by Kathleen Duncan, Esperança Board Member & Founder of Educarte

I first saw this quote back in 2012 when I had begun to think more seriously about trying to make a significant commitment to helping kids in need in Rocky Point.  At that time I spoke little Spanish, had very few connections with people in the community and had no idea where or how I would even begin. I also lived in Buckeye and the kids I wanted to try to help lived four hours away in another country. 

So when I saw this quote it really resonated with me. I knew that for me to find a way to help even a few kids in Rocky Point break the cycle of generational poverty might be impossible. I knew for me, as one American woman, trying to launch a long-term effort in another country was risky.  I knew that there was a good chance that all my efforts might end up being pointless. In spite of all of this, however, my heart kept saying Give it a try'

Although I tried to put on a brave front, quite honestly, when I started out I was terrified:  terrified I would not be able to learn a new language well enough to communicate effectively;  terrified I would not be able to make the right connections in the community; terrified I would not be able to find a way to help or, worse yet, might unintentionally do harm to kids in the community; terrified of giving something my all and failing. Fortunately, I was more terrified of not even trying. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with regret, not knowing what might have been possible because I was too afraid to “Give it a try.”

I would be lying if I said that starting to program to provide kids in Mexico with a path out of poverty through education has not been the most challenging, terrifying and sometimes overwhelming thing I have ever done. I have cried many tears, spent many sleepless nights and suffered a lot of heartache throughout this process. However, it has also been the most rewarding experience of my life and I am so incredibly grateful that I listened to my heart.

As I sit here almost six years after forming the Mexican non-profit organization, Educarte, (formerly known as AIM Penasco) I am so proud of all that we have been able to accomplish.  My local team employs 30 committed professionals who work tirelessly to provide young people in the community with access to educational opportunities to help them transform their futures. Our program has grown from supporting 72 public school students to almost 800 and we currently have dozens of students who have graduated from high school and gone on to college. Last January we launched a new program to serve kids with special needs in the community and we recently moved into a beautiful permanent facility that will provide Educarte and the people in this community with so many new resources and opportunities to grow and thrive.

From the beginning, the Mexican non-profit I founded has been supported primarily by Steps of Love which is a small, volunteer-run non-profit based in Arizona. Last year Steps of Love was invited to merge with Esperanca, an Arizona-based non-profit with more than 50 years of experience in international program development.  As I spent months investigating this opportunity, I learned that Esperanca’s team has extensive experience in supporting efforts to improve health and provide hope through disease prevention, education and treatment in under-resourced communities throughout the world. For the past couple of years I have known in my heart that Educarte was beginning to outgrow Steps of Love’s ability to enable them to continue to grow and thrive. So, It did not take me long to listen to my heart and say yes to this amazing opportunity     

I am very proud that the Mexican non-profit organization that I formed six years ago, Educarte, is now Esperanca’s sixth International partner. I am incredibly excited about the opportunities this new partnership will provide, not only for our local team and the students we serve but the entire community of Puerto Peñasco.