I was born in Manchester, UK, before moving to a town just outside London when I was five years old. I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2012 with a degree in Economic and Spanish. Since I was young I’d always been drawn to South America and so after a short trip around South-East Asia with a friend, I felt ready to go it alone and I took off to Buenos Aires, Argentina. After 6 months living and working in that beautiful city I travelled up through South America. It was here that I caught the ‘travel bug’ and I haven’t looked back since.
When I returned home I decided I had to find a way to return to Latin America. I had unfinished business. So I trained to teach English as a foreign language before discovering a fantastic opportunity to co-lead a team of volunteers on a development project in Nicaragua with Raleigh International. After six incredible months delivering entrepreneurship training to young people in rural communities I was offered a place to help develop their programme in Tanzania, which I gladly took.
These experiences instilled in me a passion for teaching and working in the sustainable development field. The work was fulfilling and the positive results clear to see. To this day I am in contact with some of the young entrepreneurs who have not only set up successful businesses in their community but are now mentoring other young people and supporting them in their dream to start their own enterprises. They have shown that even in resource-poor environments, through dedication and hard-work it is possible to overcome any obstacles and create a better path for themselves and their families.
During my time in Tanzania I saw the opportunity of working with La Choza Chula, and I immediately knew that this was the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for entrepreneurship with my desire to achieve sustainable development through community projects.
So after months of waiting impatiently to arrive in Guatemala I finally landed in the capital at the beginning of September. After spending two nights there I headed straight to Antigua, a beautiful colonial city surrounded by volcanoes, to meet our Creative and Community Manager and Co-Founder, Carla, in order to prepare for the New World Crafts fair. The event was an export fair promoting artisans from Guatemala and other Central American countries. We were there to present our products and to shout about our project to as many people that would listen!
Attending the fair were big buyers from all over the world, particularly the United States, so it was a fantastic opportunity for us to network and develop important relationships with potential clients and partners. It was an amazing event and we had some really interesting conversations with many people, which will hopefully lead to some positive developments in the coming months.
So after a busy and hectic week running around Antigua, we finally made it to El Paredón, which will be my home for the next year. Immediately I was struck by the heat and by the beauty of the place. The village sits right on a black sand beach on the pacific coast of Guatemala, which will burn the soles right off your feet during the midday sun! Alongside the ocean, which can be fierce and unforgiving to a beginner surfer (I found out the hard way!), live the most welcoming of people, cheeky children and plenty of palm trees.
Straightaway I felt at home here and I already know that if I ever leave this place it will be with a heavy heart!