In January 2015, fresh off the Christmas break, Katerina approached her mother, Maggie Kattan, with a look of determination. She said, “Mom, I’d like to do something to help the kids at that school in Honduras.“
It was a direct, sincere intention from the mouth of a 13-year old girl. Katerina had enjoyed lazy vacation days at the seaside town of Veracruz, Honduras, for many years, but as she grew older, she started taking notice of the local families and their community: the shops, church, and of course, the schoolhouse.
She knew she shared countless similarities with those school kids: a love of learning, the desire to achieve something in life, the joy of going to school to be surrounded by friends, and the curiosity to keep goin back for more.
But those words revealed that she saw the differences between her first-world upbringing and the hardship those kids faced every day. She had heard about how some of them went to school without a meal; of how some kids just couldn’t afford even basic school supplies, forced to borrow or re-use scraps; and of those that dropped out as early as second grade in order to work, bringing an additional source of income to their families.
Maggie, Katerina’s mom, was moved and asked what she had in mind. She replied, “I want to help them buy school supplies. I can give them some of my savings.”
Within the next minute they worked out a plan. Maggie would double Katerina’s gift and we’d arrange to try to help as many of the 68 children enrolled at the primary school.
We got to work, contacting the school’s director and researching school supply wholesalers. Within 3 weeks, we were able to show up at the first day of school, surprising the students with their very own set of school supplies. They were awestruck that a young girl not much older than them, and from a foreign land, had made it all possible.
We were awestruck as well. And determined to formalize this program and make philanthropy a core part of our family’s purpose. By the end of the year, we had achieved non-profit 501(c)(3) status and were on our way to helping these kids and many more.