Jaime Koppel

Posted on Monday, September 26, 2016, 1:57 pm EDT

I looked at the calendar a few weeks ago and realized that exactly 15 years ago, the work of birthing BECA began in earnest. I arrived in Cofradia on September 1, 2001. By September 2nd, I was working alongside community members as we began laying bloques on the cement slab that was the only sign of a soon-to-be school. On September 11, 2001, I was laying in a hammock with a diagnosis of dengue when I heard an announcer on the TV say "los torres gemelos [Twin Towers] have fallen." People back home began the long process of putting the pieces of a shattered worldview back together. Three days later, I was back at the school as we built walls with a sense of urgency and answered parents' questions about how we hoped to work with them over that year to build our educational model. The San Jeronimo Bilingual school opened on September 24th with 38 students, three walls, and no roof. By the end of that year, we had a roof, doors, and 84 students. And, that summer we filed the paperwork with the U.S. government to register BECA as a nonprofit organization.

We have come so far from those humble beginnings and the world has continued to change around us. If anything, the importance of our work has increased exponentially as the perils of migration have become ever more terrible and as Honduras has experienced political upheaval and economic hardships related in no small way to shifting global politics.

Through it all we have soldiered on–San Jeronimo Bilingual School was built as a labor of love by our partners, Santa Monica joined our family and now we're three schools strong with Amigos de Jesus. Children have been born (including BECA kids), our students have graduated and moved on, our alumni have done amazing things with us and with others to make this world a better place.

If someone were to ask me why I am still involved with BECA 15 years later, I would tell them that family is forever. I don't need to know every student or parent or teacher in our schools for them to be my family. We are bound together by our humanity–by the ways we strive to serve each other in full acknowledgement that we are all flawed. I am proud of our students', our teachers', and our partners' accomplishments and I know that the goals that we share –of providing our students with the opportunities they deserve–are a foundation strong enough to weather any storm.