Dear Bike Park Wales,

Thank you so much from everyone here at The Education for the Children Foundation (EFTC). Your generous donation has changed the lives of twenty nine of our Scholarship Students here at The School of Hope in Guatemala! We could never have imagined being able to give bicycles to this many students without your support.

For our students the benefits of receiving a bicycle are immeasurable. One of the biggest impacts of poverty is a lack of choices and a lack of options, children can feel closed in and it is hard to imagine a future different than their parents. This bicycle represents much more than just a way to get from place to place it allows our students personal freedom. They can apply to jobs which might have been too hard to get to without transport, they can visit friends and family and they have access to many different options once they have control of their own transport. Here at EFTC we cover the cost of our Scholarships students transport to and from the school they choose to continue their studies at however, this adds up to a huge cost each year. Having these students have a free option of transport opens up this funding to funnel back into our school to help in some of the areas we are struggling. I am just hoping to explain the huge and lasting impact your donation has had both to each lucky student and also to us as a whole Foundation.

This was an amazing first ever involvement from Bike Park Wales, I thought maybe you would like some more background on our Foundation and our students you have helped.  EFTC is an international NGO based in Guatemala. We run the School of Hope, a Primary and Secondary School where we educate 462 impoverished children and support another 215 scholarship students. We work with disadvantaged children and their families to break the cycle of poverty through education and empowerment.

Without the work of EFTC and our supporters, our students’ parents wouldn’t be able to send them to school. The children would end up working or begging on the streets, staying at home to help with household chores, resorting to petty crime and many would end up in the local gangs. Where previously these children faced desperate futures, they now have positive choices.

The history of EFTC reads more like a family history than that of an organisation. Our Founder and current Foundation Coordinator, Sophie McKee, came to Guatemala as a teenager and saw how much need the children of this country are in and how underfunded the schools here are. This was how the Foundation was born in 2003. It started as a small fundraising NGO, which gave funds to an already existing school. Sophie’s father, David McKee also became involved, he is now the CEO of the Foundation, as the fundraising grew. After a while, their fundraising efforts were making such a big contribution that they felt they couldn’t keep fundraising for a project they weren’t accountable for, so they started the School of Hope with 155 students in 2005.

They rented different spaces for 5 years, which made the project somewhat unstable since they could be asked to leave at the end of their contract. Sophie and her father went on a huge fundraising mission and in 2011 managed to open their own school, which they built from the ground up. This is the same building we are in now which has almost 500 students here every day. We now have students from Kindergarten all the way through to 9th grade, after graduating from The School of Hope our children become Scholarship Students and we pay for them to continue their studies in different organisations all the way through University. EFTC has students studying Medicine, nursing, technology, teaching, pedagogy, you name it and we have a student in that course.

The EFTC of today is beyond the scale of anything our Founders could have imagined back in 2003. We have managed to expand to not only be a school but we also provide free and clean water, food support, psychological care, medical care, build and fix the homes of our families. You name it and we have done it, the informal and unspoken motto of our Foundation is if one of our families needs something we will find a way to support them. We have become not just a Foundation but a community.

Thank you again Bike Park Wales for becoming involved and helping out the students of EFTC. As I said to Carmen Rey from Wheels4Life, this gift to our students warmed the heart of every staff member. Watching the joy on our students faces as they rode the bikes around the patio reminded me why I love working here.

Warm regards, Jennifer McCallum

“The project has become my life, it made me realize what I wanted to do, what my passion was. I don’t remember not being a part of the Foundation. The love and the passion that I see in the staff and the families we work with has helped me become a better person”.  – Sophie McKee