Sophie McKee is our current Foundation Director and one of EFTC’s founders, but the first time she came to Guatemala was 13 years ago, right after finishing High School, and what she discovered changed her life forever.
An eighteen-year old right out of high school, Sophie first came to Guatemala during her gap year in 2003. What she found was very different from her native England, and she couldn’t help falling in love with the country’s culture, people and its natural beauty.
She was volunteering at a school for disadvantaged children in Antigua when she discovered that it was underfunded, so Education for the Children Foundation was initially created to support it.
Soon after, her dad Dave came to visit her and they realised what a huge impact the project could have on people’s lives and became truly involved with the cause of breaking the cycle of poverty through education. But 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.
Sophie couldn’t help falling in love with Guatemala's culture, its people and natural beauty.
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: “The first building we rented didn’t even have enough classroom space and we had Primary and Secondary School in different villages. The first day in our own building in 2011 was a huge milestone for us, because it meant we finally had something permanent and we became one integrated team, one EFTC family working for the same cause in the same building.”
“I grew with the project, everything I am now is what I’ve learned over the years and all the challenges I’ve faced. When we first started we were so disorganised and we didn’t have a clue!
"Now we have a staff of 50 people between teachers and administration personnel, 475 students in Primary and Secondary at the School of Hope and more than 180 scholarship students. We’re also looking to build a new wing in the future to have our own high school.”
"The first day in our own building was a huge milestone, it meant we finally had something permanent."
When asked about her best memories at EFTC, Sophie says: “it would have to be attending the university graduation of a student who has been with us since day one.”
Sophie can’t help getting emotional when she looks back: “to actually watch a child grow up, go through their teenage years, overcome serious obstacles and challenges, like drug and alcohol abuse at home, and finally see them achieve their goals is one of the most incredible moments”.
“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 have helped me become a better person”.