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About Us


We're a non-profit foundation working to break the cycle of poverty in Jocotenango, Guatemala, through education and empowerment.

Why Guatemala?

Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with shocking rates of violence, illiteracy, and malnutrition.

  • 66% of the population live on less than $2 a day (World Food Programme);

  • 50% of children under five suffer stunted growth and ill health due to chronic malnutrition (World Food Programme);
  • 80% of children will never attend high school (UNESCO).

Our vision

Children and young people from impoverished backgrounds are provided with quality education and empowered to become motivated, confident, and employable.

Moving on to higher education and rewarding employment will improve our students’ quality of life and help them break free from the cycle of poverty that has blighted generations in this area. They will become leaders of change in their communities and inspire future generations.

School of Hope - La Escuela de Esperanza

EFTC is an international NGO that works in partnership with disadvantaged families, children and young adults in Guatemala, Central America. 

Our School of Hope is located in Jocotenango, Guatemala: an urban area where extreme poverty, gang crime, domestic violence and alcoholism are everyday realities. Food, healthcare, counseling, and career guidance at the school remove obstacles to education and enable our students to realize their potential.

We have approximately sixty staff working at the School of Hope at any one time. See below for more details.

La Escuela de Esperanza (The School of Hope)

Aracely Chajón

Head of Social Services

Aracely started working at the Foundation in 2007 as our first-ever psychologist and today oversees the entire Social Services department, which provides support and assistance to our students in many different ways. Aracely's passion for the students we work with is apparent in her daily work, how well she knows every student and every case. She is integral to the holistic approach which EFTC provides to our students to support their education.

Patricia Castillo

Head of Further Education

Patty has been with the Foundation since its formation and was a part of the team who opened the doors to The School of Hope. She has held many roles in her time here: teacher, Head of Education and now runs our Further Education Department. She oversees, alongside her skilled team, all of our students through High School and University, supporting them during the hardest phase of their education. Patty has grown with these students – some of the students she helps support, guide and counsel today were in her classroom almost 15 years ago.

Kelsey Carlton

Head of Education

Kelsey first joined The School of Hope Education Department in 2017 as our English Coordinator and is now the head of her Department. Kelsey is an experienced teacher from the USA with a Masters of Education in International Education Policy from Harvard. She brings to our team a focus on individualized education and, in 2018, Kelsey piloted the first year of an Inclusive Education programming for our students with learning disabilities. She is passionate about the region and demographic we work with, having studied and worked abroad in Peru as well as collaborated on a USA-based forum which promoted awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of education in Latin America.

Brenda Cay

Head of Primary School

Brenda started working with the Foundation in 2013 as a second-grade teacher. After dedicating herself to further studies and becoming qualified in pedagogy and educational administration practices, she is now the Principal of EFTC´s Elementary School. She guides and supports our teachers through the same process she herself experienced, giving them new tools, strategies, and methods to improve their classes. She loves her work as the students are her biggest inspiration and every day brings new opportunities for growth in her professional life.

Jorge Castillo

Head of Secondary School

Jorge has been a part of the Foundation since the very beginning, back in 2005. He has, like so many of our founding team members, taken on many roles during his time here, starting as the Elementary School Principal and, growing with our students, he has now “graduated” and is the Secondary School Principal. Jorge is an amazing role model to our teenage students and teachers alike. He is dedicated to providing a quality education to our students and changing the community we work in, something which shows in the care he takes with his work and the smile he enters the school with every day.

Deirdre Hand

English Coordinator

Deirdre joined EFTC at the start of 2019 as our new English Coordinator. She joins us after having moved here from Rwanda, where she worked as a head teacher in a scholarship program. Previous to this, Deirdre worked as an ESL teacher for refugees and immigrants. Deirdre brings a wealth of experience to our Education team - she has a Master’s degree in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction with a focus on “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”. Her passion for English as a second language makes her the perfect person to lead our English program.

Nancy Judith Azurdia

Education Technical Director

Nancy has been with the Foundation since 2010 and is the heart and soul that keeps our Education department running smoothly. She ensures that all teachers get the resources they require for classes, provides focused support to the development of our literacy program, and much more. Nancy is passionate about social change and development, something that is apparent in the care and dedication she brings to the Foundation office every day.

EFTC (Guatemala Office)

Sophie McKee

Founder and Former Project Director

Sophie first came to Guatemala to volunteer during her gap year in 2002. Even at the young age of 18 Sophie saw the need for support in Jocotenango where she volunteered and how integral education is in changing lives and communities. Fast forward two years and Sophie had returned to Guatemala to open the doors of the School of Hope. Today, Sophie works tirelessly to ensure the vision and goals of the Foundation are coming true, watching students she met in primary school graduate University as skilled professionals.

Sara Miller

Project Director

Sara, who is now our Project Director, joined EFTC in 2017 as the Visitor and Volunteer Coordinator and then as the Director of Development. Before that, she served in rural Guatemala as a Peace Corps volunteer developing youth focused educational programs as well as worked for various non-profits in fundraising and outreach. The two years she spent working in a rural Guatemalan community showed her the undeniable power of education and opportunity, which fostered her commitment to EFTC and the life changing impact the program makes.

Jennifer McCallum

Assistant to the Foundation Director

Jennifer has been at the Foundation since 2016, what was a short trip has become her passion and her home. She joined the Foundation with a background in International Relations and Development and after years of travelling and volunteering all over the world, including in her home country of Australia, she has found in this Foundation in Guatemala the place that is hardest to leave.

Gabriela Morales

Fundraising and Administration Manager

Gabriela is a business administrator with a Master in Human Resources Management. She graduated from Mariano Galvez University and has worked with non-profit organizations since 2006. During this time, she has seen so many lives changed for the better thanks to education. Besides that, the rewarding experience helping other Guatemalan people is what she likes the most about her work with EFTC.

Stephanie Esprester

Sponsorship Coordinator

Stephanie has worked and volunteered with children in her home country of Australia, as well as in Nepal, Ecuador and Guatemala. Before joining EFTC in January 2018, she worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for an NGO in rural Peru. She loves hanging out with children and is passionate about fostering positive relationships between sponsors and students through the biannual letter writing project, and sponsor visits.

Kellen Buckley

Visitor and Volunteer Coordinator

Kellen was the Volunteer Coordinator for the ESL program at her university, which provided English tutoring to the immigrant and refugee population. She has worked and volunteered with different education programs and NGOs in the US, Spain, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. She believes in the power of education, and loves seeing volunteers from around the world make a positive impact at the School of Hope.

EFTC (USA Office)

David McKee

Founder and CEO

David is one of the original founders and has been the Chief Executive of the NGO since 2003. He is proud to lead a talented and hardworking team of staff and volunteers in the UK, USA, and Guatemala.

Brien K. Ashdown, Ph.D.

Executive Director of EFTC USA

Brien joined EFTC USA as a member of the Board of Trustees in 2013. After serving in that role for more than 4 years, he took on the role of Executive Director of EFTC USA. He was more than 20 years of experience in Guatemala in addition to his time with EFTC USA, mostly as a researcher and professor of Cultural Psychology and Latin American Students. He travels to Guatemala at least once a year to spend time at The School of Hope. He brings along his students and research assistants as often as possible.

Marika Dragotti

President, EFTC USA Board of Trustees

Marika has worked as a Registered Nurse for over 25 years. After visiting the School of Hope in 2013, she realized, after many years of searching for an organization to support, that she had finally found her home. Transparency, team work, effectiveness, and collaboration with the community were just a few of the reasons she fell in love with EFTC.

Other EFTC USA Board Members

Joshua Wallace


Josh joined the EFTC USA team in July of 2019 and has a background in business and law. He became involved with the program in 2017 as a volunteer and sponsor. He is excited to further support EFTC and recognizes the impact the program has from his time living and traveling in Latin America. Josh holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration as well as a Juris Doctorate.

Paige Moffett


Paige, now the USA Board Secretary, originally joined EFTC in 2017 as a 3rd and 4th grade English Teacher, and returned to EFTC for most of 2018 to intern for the English Department Coordinator to help develop curriculum. Before moving to Guatemala to teach at EFTC, she studied experiential education and social justice at the University of Arizona. She currently works for Language South and El Pueblo Spanish Camp as the Director of Experiential Learning in Chattanooga, TN. Paige believes in the team members working at EFTC and their drive and passion to impact our students.

Stephanie Honey-Morrow

Stephanie has been involved with EFTC for 5 years now. She got involved initially through a close friend and fell in love with the kids and the mission on my first trip down. She and some of her fellow nurses and PA's make an annual trip to The School of Hope every fall to assist with medical care at the school, as well as some of the clinics close by. Most members of this group have a child or two that they sponsor and keep in touch with. Stephanie is an ER nurse by trade, as well as a volunteer firefighter and has 3 kids and a grandson.

Damian Graybelle