BelindayTobie7_21_edited.jpg

Episode

95

TOBIE SPEARS LEADS SERVICE VACATIONS
TO GUATEMALA

Tobie Spears is the founder of Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours, an organization that helps Guatemalan children, teens, and their parents reach their full potential with early nutrition and education. Their service vacations take companies, families, and individuals on a journey where they give back while having a blast and remembering what really matters.

IN THIS EPISODE

 

[00:00:45]  On what she’s most passionate about

 

[00:01:53] On her humanitarian tours to Guatemala

 

[00:02:46] On where her love of giving and supporting other people comes from

 

[00:06:20] On when she first fell in love with traveling and some of your early trips

 

[00:08:24] On a 2002 trip to Mexico that had an
impact on her

 

[00:10:06] On what inspired you to found Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours

 

[00:12:43] On how she personally changed by doing good

 

[00:13:40] On the effects that her family’s travels have had on her daughters

 

[00:16:27] On what Guatemala is like for women

 

[00:19:25] On the education program she created

RESOURCES

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to The Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same.

 

We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with Tobie Spears, the founder of Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours, an organization that helps Guatemalan children, teens, and their parents reach their full potential with early nutrition and education. Their service vacations take companies, families, and individuals on a journey where they give back while having a blast and remembering what really matters.

 

So please welcome to the show, Tobie Spears.

 

Tobie: Thank you so much, ladies. It's great to be here.

 

Passionistas: We're really excited to hear about everything you do, Tobie. What's the one thing you're most passionate about?

 

Tobie: Right now what I'm most passionate about is creating win-win situations. So for businesses, for corporations that are looking to give, then I feel like it's so fun to be that conduit. Where I'm like, Hey, you want to give, I have a great suggestion. So I think just being a conduit for good is by far the funnest, the funnest thing to do.

 

Passionistas: What is that suggestion that you make?

 

Tobie: To find a project for people in need in any place of the world. My chosen place is Guatemala, but I really encourage others to be, to choose their own place. So if it's local activism, if it's local involvement, then. And do it, you know, jump on board, like be involved if it's in a different country, if it's, you know, anywhere in the world, there's so much need and so much opportunity to do good. Like that's my real ask is if what I'm doing, doesn't resonate with you and find yours.

 

Passionistas: How does translate into what you do on a day to day basis with your word?

 

Tobie: My job in the states is finding donors, finding sponsors, working with corporations, networking, and meeting awesome people. So that's what I get to do and encourage people to join me on a service vacation to Guatemala, or get involved as a sponsor or a donor.

 

We have loads and loads of opportunities for any volunteer that is interested. So then we have day to day operations in Guatemala. I also oversee and am involved with, but definitely I'm not on the ground. So my work is focused in Guatemala, but my work actually occurs here in the states.

 

Passionistas: Let's take a step back. Where does this love of giving and supporting other people come from? Was it something you learned when you were here?

 

Tobie: My mom and dad divorced when I was quite young. And so my mom raised six of us by herself. We were really quite lucky to live in the United States where we have so many social programs.

 

So we were on housing and section eight and food stamps and all of those services free lunch, free breakfast at school. And those were, although the, it was embarrassing, it was embarrassing to me as. To grow up knowing that like my family couldn't afford to feed us. Right. But it took me like to become an adult to realize how grateful and how lucky we were to have had that opportunity.

 

So, I mean, we didn't go hungry. Like we didn't, we certainly didn't have an excess, like that didn't happen, but we didn't go hungry. So my mom really instilled in. That there was somebody in our world, in our orbit that probably had it worse off than us. So we would always find a family, even if it wasn't a financial struggle.

 

If it was a death in the family, a sadness and illness, something that had caused grief or pain or suffering in their lives. She really encouraged us to get involved and be service. One of my biggest memories is what she coined as the 12 days of Christmas. And so for those 12 nights, we would run, we would choose a family in our local area, in our neighborhood that had had a rough year and we would choose gifts for them every.

 

And we would run and knock on the door and then hide in the bushes and see their face when they opened up the door. And sometimes the funniest part was when they yell at you. And they're like, thank you, you know, because they don't know who you are. And so it was something so fun about being that secret Santa.

 

So I think it just was something that I loved doing because you can do so much more when you have like additional people. Fighting the same fight or working on your same cause. So I remember seventh, eighth grade, so maybe 12, 13 years old. I wanted to do a coat drive in Utah, winters are cold. And so I knew that the homeless population would need coats for the winter.

 

And I just was like, I thought to myself, like personally, I could go and collect 10 coats. Right. If I got the whole school involved, like then it's endless how men, you know, the possibilities are so much larger than what I can do on my own. So I remember getting the whole school involved and we receive in a, we collected hundreds of coats and the school newspaper was involved.

The city newspaper came and they just thought it was such a big deal. And I was like, it's not that big of a deal. Everybody has extra coats, you know, like, so it was just giving away something that you didn't need already. So those are, those are the funnest part. So that conduit work is so fun. And then getting people that are like-minded, that are involved and wanting to be invested in service for good. Like those are my people.

 

Passionistas: The other aspect of what you do is travel. So when did you first fall in love with traveling and tell us about some of your early trips.

 

Tobie: So going back, I mean, we were raised on welfare, there wasn't money. So my father actually worked for an airlines and so we got to travel by standby.

 

So we, we had the opportunity to travel with his airline points, which was amazing. But my first travel was probably. So two of my best friends, they said, Hey, let's go to Europe for the summer and backpack. I was 17 and we were crazy kids. And I think our parents were just as crazy to let us go. I mean, there was no GPS, there was no cell phones.

 

There was no email, like to try to go back in time, back then, you know, like to explain that to our kids. What you had no cell phone, you had no GPS. We had this funny little calling card and we would call once a week and let them know that we were alive. But that experience really changed me. And my mom said that when I came home that she felt that shift in me and that I was more concerned with just the basic.

 

Of life instead of like, oh, this is her example. We had been traveling to a family reunion and we needed to eat out. And my little siblings were like, Hey, there's a McDonald's let's stop at a McDonald's. And I was like, we don't need to stop at a McDonald's. We have like a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.

 

Like we're fine. And she just remembers like this back to the basics philosophy that we don't need to, we don't need this excess. Anymore. And I truly believe that I believe that travel does that to us. It changes us on a fundamental level when we see how other people live outside of our daily bubble.

 

Passionistas: You took a trip in 2002 to Mexico, and that trip had an impact on you. So can you tell us about that?

 

Tobie: I got this little bug of, oh wait, like the world is out there and there's so much to see. And I had dreamed of traveling through Mexico. So we actually packed up our backpacks and our daughter who was not yet two. And we spent three months backpacking through Mexico and we got to see things that Mexicans don't get to see.

 

You know, it's like, because so many times in our lives, we are so inundated with the daily. Hustle and the daily grind that we don't get to get out and see those cool things. So we saw the butterflies migration and Morelia. We saw, you know, we just, we were able to see so many beautiful, cool things about the country and put our daughter on our backpack.

 

And we took, you know, she wasn't two yet, so she's still napped every single day. So every afternoon we'd sit down and put her down in. She would take a little nap and we would write in our journals and the world becomes smaller. When you meet people that live in different areas of the world, then you're like, oh wait, we're like the same.

 

Like, we don't speak the same language. We don't have the same color of skin or the same color of eyes, but we all want things that are the same. We all want our children to be happy and our children to be healthy. And we all want to be loved. Like those basic. That it's basic human humanity. So I think that just makes a big impact for me.

 

Passionistas: What inspired you to found Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours and tell us a little bit about that.

 

Tobie: It's been nearly 11, 12 years ago, I met a woman who had talked about traveling with her family and she was able to go to Guatemala with her family and my husband and I had looked for years, actually, we had wanted to live internationally with our two children and every organization that.

 

Connected with, they were like, oh, you have children. No, thanks. Like, you know, that was just too much of an ask. It was too big of an ask. And so we had looked and looked and not found an organization that would take a family unit. And so she told me that she had come home from Guatemala and she had taken her children and I was like, wait, that's what we've been wanting to do.

 

So it was as easy as that. Meeting the right person at the right time. And she put me in contact with the director of a private school in Guatemala. And from there we just made the crazy plan to drive. I just decided I didn't want to fly over everything because then it felt like we would miss out on so much.

 

And so we decided to drive from Utah to. And so we packed up the car and the girls were, you know, five and nine, five and 10. And we put a bunch of CD, bunch of books on CD and just hit the road. So that was like one moment, right? Like I never anticipated Guatemala to become like a lifelong passion. We thought we were going to go there for three months.

We thought we would just live there and come and go, you know, just like it was like a one-time. And then after, when we returned home, I told my girls that it was something we needed to do each year, that it was for our souls, that we needed to do something for soul food. And so that was what happened is that I wanted to be able to travel with my girls.

 

And I felt like this was the best way that we could spend the summers together and that we could do good. And I got to. Capture their, you know, their moments instead of us just being in the daily busy-ness of life, we got to escape in this little pod and have these memories of their summers. So it was really quite a selfish reason.

 

I got that time with my kids and we got to see the world and change ourselves. But by doing good, like it was just a winter.

 

Passionistas: How did you change by doing good?

 

Tobie: I've had my eyes opened to what life is like just outside of the states. You know? So I was in my thirties the first time we were in Guatemala. And like all of these funny things that you don't realize are really important aspects of your daily life, like a washing machine and a dryer and a sink that's inside your kitchen and floors with carpet and floors that aren't dirt. And, you know, like these luxuries of our daily life that we live, it just has helped me travel has helped me open my eyes, that I feel it's a responsibility that I have to alleviate others, difficult life or others pain. And if it's possible, and I believe it is that we can make the world a better place.

 

Passionistas: What effects have the travels had on your daughters?

 

Tobie: Yeah. So Guatemala is like, you know, it's like part of home, it's part of who we are and they have friends. I mean, the cool part of this technological advancement is that they talk to people that they met in Guatemala nine, you know, nine years ago when, and so they still get to connect.

 

And when volunteers, that's a huge part of it. I want my volunteers to be able to connect to the families that we're serving and the kids that we're meeting, because like I said, it just makes the world a smaller place to have that actual connection. It's when you're helping somebody, you know what it's doing, you can see, you know, you've been to their home, like, you know, their living conditions, you know, how their life is, and then you get to.

 

By adding something cool, like a water filter that you're like, oh my gosh, I did that. I helped fundraise to provide a water filter for this family. You know, this is awesome. So just those re it's so easy. I think that's the coolest part is it can be so easy. And so life changing just by being involved and they've done it.

 

I mean, my girls have done it. They've installed wood, wood, burning stoves, and they've met the kiddos that weren't eating lunch and we're eating breakfast and we're trying to attend school and trying to learn, but it's really difficult to do that without your brain being fed. So they had friends at school that were not eating and they would come home and be like, mom, like, you know, little Guatemalans that were attending school with.

 

They were like, mom, they're not eating, you know, how can that happen? Cause it's not a reality for them. They never, so it opened their eyes to the reality of life in a developing country that not every kid gets a free lunch. Not every kid gets a free breakfast, not in Guatemala. And it created a lot of gratitude and appreciation for both of them.

 

And it's definitely not just them. It's every volunteer that's ever joined us on a service vacation. They have that appreciation like, whoa, okay. I get to see how the world works in different places and especially in a developing country where it's not all fancy and it's not all nice and it's not all new and not everybody gets to eat.

 

Passionistas: Talk about a bit more about Guatemala because I think a lot of people haven't been there and they don't have firsthand knowledge. What is it like down there? And also what's it like for women is it difficult for women?

 

Tobie: Absolutely. Most women like statistically in the country, they terminate their schooling by the third grade.

 

So by the third grade, a young girl is needed to be working in the fields or working at home, helping her mother with younger siblings or helping her mother with house. Or cooking or any of those menial daily tasks that moms don't have enough time to do. So definitely we're huge advocates for education, especially for girls, because I believe that will change their world.

And Guatemala is a teeny little country. It's the size of Louisiana. If you can picture this teeny Louisiana. But nearly 18 million people live there. So there's a lot of people and a lot of meals are prepared over open flame. So in for breakfast, you can smell when it's breakfast time. Cause you can smell all the wood-burning, all the wood coming for lunch.

 

You can do the same. I mean the most amazing corn tortillas that you've ever tasted in your whole life. You could just walk down the street and little ladies are making corn tortillas and you just take them home fresh off the, the fire. Most families don't make $2 a day. So education ends really young and people start working.

 

They are a very hardworking people and they are a huge food producers. So an enormous amount of food is produced in Guatemala and then shipped through central America. So they do do a lot of food production. Although the food doesn't stay in country. So. Guatemala changes from about fourth to the sixth, most malnourished country in the world.

 

So the beauty of it is that we can make a huge impact everywhere we go by providing nutrition and education to any area in that little country. Some fun stuff about Guatemala is that they are very Mayan. So they're still. 20 plus 27, 29 Mayan languages still spoken. And they were , which is like their traditional clothing.

 

And you can tell, I couldn't tell, but watermelon could tell where that person is from depending on the attire that they're wearing. So they have their own like tribal outfits, you know, super, super fun. They're kind and generous and grateful, gracious people.

 

Passionistas: Tell us about your education program and what you do for nine years prior to COVID.

 

Tobie: I had been leading humanitarian service vacations in countries so that people could see the country and experience what it was like to live in a developing country. And last year, at the very beginning of COVID, I had a woman reached out to me and she had just lost her. And she has been an English teacher at the American school in Guatemala.

 

And she had taught for 20 years. She has two young children at home and she said, I would like to start a preschool. I was like, okay, we've been taking school supplies, hundreds of pounds of school supplies, backpacks books, all sorts of things. We've taken all of those things to Guatemala for years. I'm a huge advocate for education.

 

However, I don't think that. Education goes with out nutrition. I believe that they go hand in hand. So I told her that I didn't see the point of starting one program. I thought we needed to. So we started a preschool and a nutrition program and they go hand in hand. So we've got kiddos that arrive at our preschool.

 

They get breakfast first and start out their day and then they have their education and then they leave with a full belly afterwards. So they really do go hand in hand when we began, we had 19 kiddos right now we're at 25 because I believe that we need to have a program that is sustainable. I have kept it small on purpose so that it's something that we can really afford, something that we can really do and not quit.

 

That was my biggest thing. These families are, depending on us. These found these kiddos are depending on us. And I needed to make sure that this was a program we could continue to do for years and years. So we have 25 adorable kids and they come for nutrition and we've been able to provide them with birthday parties and their very first book that they've never had a book at their home before.

 

And so they get a book for their birthday. We've been able to provide them with Christmas and Santa. And one thing that sets us apart about our program is that we require all of our moms to volunteer inside our program. And so each of our moms is volunteering six hours a week. And so she is invested and she has to be there in order for her kiddo to be involved in our program.

So. We're all a community. It's not just two people up at the top that are making everything work, that it takes an entire village to make this happen. So we're all working together to make it happen.

 

Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and you're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Tobie Spears.

 

To learn more about her service vacations that take companies, families, and individuals on a journey where they give back while having a blast and remembering what really matters visit GuatemalanHumanitarianTours.org.

 

If you're enjoying this interview and would like to help us continue creating inspiring, please consider becoming a patron by visiting ThePassionistasProject.com/podcast and clicking on the patron button. Even $1 a month can help us continue our mission of inspiring women to follow their passions. Now here's more of our interview with Tobie.

 

What do people who sign up for your humanitarian tours, what do they do when they get down there and what's the day to day activity like for them?

 

Tobie: Part of my personal philosophy is that if you're in a country, you need to see it and experience it and fall in love with it. So we do hiking and we hike a volcano. We go zip lining and we explore the awesome cities and go shopping and, you know, just have like a sight seeing adventures and some fun adventure travel.

 

And then every day we have a service project as well. So we do get to spend. Almost an entire

week, five to six days at our preschool, so that we go there each morning and we get to know our kiddos and we're working with their homework or reading with them and playing and making sure that their education is going in the right direction.

 

And then we get to go into their homes. So all of our families are a part of our community. And so we do an assessment of. And we've done field trips where we go into each home and say, what do you need? So last summer, we actually had the opportunity to do bookshelves during our home visits. I noticed that there were not like bookshelves and that there was just piles of stuff, piles of items, clothing, or cooking items or any of that.

 

But it was just like on the floor. And I thought for cleanliness, for sanitation, for. Just organization, maybe a bookshelf would be a good fit. So I approached the moms, asked the moms how that felt, and everybody thought that was a great idea instead of just gifting everyone, a bookshelf, which we could have done.

 

We required that everyone build their own. So we provided all of the materials and we asked a carpenter to come and show our families how to build. Piece of, you know, it will be like a centerpiece for many of their homes because it's a nice wood bookshelf. That's not going to go anywhere. It's going to last for years and years.

 

And so they all got to make them and stay in them and work together. And we had families working together due to COVID. We had a couple of families that were ill and not able to build their own. So our teacher and her husband got in there and helped build theirs for them. Our projects change every year.

 

And that's just on, what's important to the village, you know, to the village and what they need. We did have the opportunity to install several wood-burning stoves, and that's a huge gift. That's something that changes the whole family life in a day. So they're no longer cooking over open flame, which is safer for burns or.

 

And then the fireplace is actually fluted out. And so then it's better for air quality and lung issues and asthma, just the air of the kitchen. So we were able to do all of that. I had a volunteer who did a big fundraising effort and she raised enough to do water filters for all of our. So it was less than 700 us dollars and she was able to provide 19 families with water filters, which is a really big deal considering that they were drinking dirty water before.

 

So we're really on the basics. Like we, we did new mattresses, we did new bedding, our kids for gifts. They get blankets and pillows and. Items that are of necessity. And then we throw in boxes of food and we, you know, just like items that are of real need instead of just frivolous, frivolous items that we often give here as gifts.

 

Passionistas: Tell us about the requirement for your volunteers to bring suitcases with them, but not for themselves.

 

Tobie: We are able to provide, uh, hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of donations, each time we're traveling to Guatemala. So H volunteers is able to bring 100 pounds, two large suitcases full of donations.

 

And then I ask all of our volunteers to pack their personal items into their carry on bag. And so we've done all sorts of donations. Washable menstruation kits, washable diapers that are reasonable in Westville. We've had organizations that have put together kitchen kits. So it's a whole wash class, hot pads, you know, scrubbers, just those items.

 

We've had newborn baby kids, which is washable diapers and onesies and socks and a little hat. And so any cool item like. We had some amazing women that made these stunning baby blankets. Like they should have, they should have been sold like on a really fancy website, but they were just so stunning. And so we get to gift those to all of our kids.

 

This past summer, I had this amazing kid reach out to me. His name is David and he wanted to do a service project. I think David was twice. And so he himself made six blankets, fleece blankets and tied them and he delivered them to our home. And so then all of our kiddos between several groups of organizations and volunteers got a brand new blanket.

 

So just cool stuff, books, you know, we're huge about education. So we had books and loads of school supplies, soccer balls. San toys, things that the kids can play with and cars and trucks, and then clothing, we do take brand new clothing. So I've had boutiques that have reached out and they are interested in donating their excess goods.

 

So I can either sell that here and fund our projects, or we can take items there. It's like being Mrs. Claus, for sure. It's gifting things that people really need.

 

Passionistas: And how can people who can't go on the trips, how can they participate? How can they help donate and either raise money or send in products that you need to give to people?

 

Tobie: There is an awesome organization called donor box. We've signed up a donor box and just yesterday we received 12 boxes of donations and they're brand new backpacks, full of school supplies, full of brand new. Awesome school supplies. So there's an organization, smile.amazon.com. So we're a 501c3 nonprofit.

 

And so we're able to be on smile.amazon.com. Anybody can choose us as a charity. And then we get a percentage of each purchase purchase that they make on Amazon. We have a sponsorship opportunity. So each of our kiddos have nutrition sponsors for breakfast, for lunch and for their education. And so there's an opportunity to get involved and to really know a kiddo we send thank you notes.

 

We send artwork from the kiddos so that they, their sponsor gets to have a piece of art from their sponsor. I am willing to brainstorm with anybody. If somebody has a suggestion, I've had people reach out about doing the reasonable hygiene kits and the washable ministration kids and wash, float diapers.

 

Like those are items that are life-changing to our families and to their health and finances so that they don't have to buy. So any way that anybody wants to get them. I will take that and we will make something beautiful happen. We are a 5 0 1 C3. So a corporation, a family foundation and individual that is interested in donating will get a tax receipt to use for their tax purposes as a tax write-off and something cool that might not have crossed anyone's mind is.

 

Because we are a nonprofit, the service vacation trip can actually be a tax deduction. So you can talk to your CPA about that. And it has been a huge tax deduction from my volunteers in the past that legally you have to talk to your CPA about it.

 

Passionistas: What are some of the trips you have planned for 2022?

 

Tobie: We've got some awesome trips for 20, 22, and it's so crazy to think that that's the year we're coming in. So I have had the opportunity to team up with another organization. It's called the Institute for the study of birth, breath and death. And so we are taking birth and death workers to Guatemala to study the death culture and the birth culture of the Guatemalan people.

And that's something, this is our first international trip, but we will be doing a trip like this every year to a different. So that's a huge, huge move for us. And we're super excited. We've also had a business owner. He is bringing his staff, so he wants to pay for all of his staff to attend as a team building experience.

 

So he's paying for all of his staff to come and join us on our trip. So we've got our annual trip. That's 11 days. And I lead that trip and we do all of our awesome stuff. And then I can customize a trip as well. So like Zack, the business owner, I can do a seven day trip for him and his staff and we can go and install wood-burning stoves or garden towers or garden, you know, work in people's yards and gift them this really amazing.

 

So we can do that as a customizable option. And if there's a corporation that's involved and wants to do a bonus for an employee project or a team building opportunity, we can make any of those customizable. And the coolest trip that I am waiting for it is it's like the Mexican version of DIA de Los Muertos day of the dead.

 

And it's called all things. And they go and fly a big humongous kites, and that's how they talk to their loved ones that have passed on. So there's some really fun opportunities to go there for the kite festival. We could go to the beach and released hurdles. There's. I mean, there's the Caribbean side of Guatemala.

 

There's the Pacific side of Guatemala. There's T call there's Highlands. There's rainforest, there's ancient Mayan ruins. Like really the whole country is just so fun to visit. So if anyone's interested, we can, they can join our already awesome trip or we can customize one for them.

 

Passionistas: Well, that's the most rewarding part of all this work that you have done?

There's so

 

Tobie: many, so many, but it's so fun to watch our kiddos grow. So we started with children that were like in the three percentile, as far as height and weight. And so now we have, we're tracking them on a regular basis. And so we know if they're growing in the right direction. And so we get to see them and in the Spanish culture, It's socially acceptable to say to someone that they're fat.

 

I know it's not acceptable in our culture. However, our, our teachers always like, oh, Tobie, they're getting so fat. It's so great. So just to watch them grow has been phenomenal. None of these kiddos had come to a preschool before they didn't have the social interaction that they have now. And so they were uncomfortable.

 

Uh, you know, like, remember your kiddos or your nieces or your nephews first day of kindergarten or preschool. They're like, what are you doing? So they've crawled out of their comfort zones and they've become dear friends and the parents and the moms have also done that. They're working together in the kitchen, they're working together, you know, to make this organization work well.

 

And so they team up together and they're learning from each other. We also have this really cool program. That's called the parent education program. And so our parents jump on a zoom call once a month and we have all sorts of classes. So we're educating our parents as we're educating our children.

 

We're talking constantly about nutrition and malnutrition. Healthy foods versus junk foods. We've covered topics such as personal hygiene. COVID protections of washing your hands and staying very safe. We've covered birth control and women's bodies. And we have a medical director who's able to con you know, convey all of his medical knowledge as a Guatemalan doctor to the Guatemalans, so that it's on the same level.

 

Like someone from the outside coming in and educating. So we have awesome education programs going on. We've got charity concerts that we're involved with that have been fantastic because we get to involve our families. We get to thanks to zoom. You know, you get to like turn on zoom and have a concert with our families in Guatemala and with people all around the states or the country here, you know, the world is just. That's so fun.

 

Passionistas: What's your dream for Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours?

 

Tobie: I'm a dreamer. My husband, he says he keeps me grounded because I would fly away with my dreams. So big dream. We would like to have a building. We would like to have a building and a soy farm so that we would be, we would be growing soybeans.

The dream is to produce our own Tempe, our own soy milk, our own soy milk ice cream items like that. There is a program that's not far from us and Guatemala that was created nearly 40 years ago. And it's still running successfully today with the Guatemalan people managing it all. So that's like big awesomeness.

 

And then inside that building, we would have a commercial kitchen. Our moms have taken canning classes and baking classes where they could put that kitchen to use, and then just open it to create a cooler community vibe where it's a safe place for people to come for learning for education, for work, and definitely including the soybeans and all of that.

 

Passionistas: What's your dream for the kids that have been a part of the program?

 

Tobie: That they finish school. That from our preschool, they migrate into a private school. And so that their sponsor gets to sponsor them through our preschool program, through their schooling program until they graduate high school. And then college, I mean, there's so many different opportunities for Guatemalans with a good education.

 

So I believe that we can change the trajectory of their lives with education. So that's the big one. So last month we actually had a terrible tragedy and one of our kiddos passed away. Anthony was four and he died because his appendix burst and he didn't get the help he needed. So to try to come to terms with that, we decided that we would create a sponsorship program for Anthony sister so that she can go to school in, on, in his honor and that we can change her life.

 

Through education because although her mom doesn't know how to read or write that doesn't have to be her reality. She can learn to read and write and she can have that voice and she can stand up for herself and she can choose when she gets married and she can choose her education. All of those things that we want for all of the kiddos, those are our big dreams that they're safe and happy and healthy, and they have autonomy where they get to.

 

Their own choices about changing their own lives. And I'm sure you've heard this. There's this beautiful African proverb that says, if you change the life of a girl, then you change the life of that community. Because statistically, she stays statistically. She stays where she was raised. She stays where she was born and she works diligently to change the community of where she's from.

 

And so then we get to do that with Kelly in Anthony's honor, we get to change her life just through, just through education.

 

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to our interview with Tobie Spears, to learn more about her service vacations, that take companies, families, and individuals on a journey where they give back while having a blast and remembering what really matters visit GuatemalanHumanitarianTours.org.

 

Please visit the Passionistas Project dot com to learn more about our podcast and subscription box filled with products made by women owned businesses and female artisans. To inspire you to follow your passions, get $45 of free goodies with a one-year subscription using the code WINTERGOODIES, and be sure to subscribe to The Passionistas Project Podcast so you don't miss any of our upcoming inspiring guests.

 

Until next time stay well and stay passionate.