Spotlight: Project Olas
Founded by Georgetown Student Rebecca Cox
Project Olas offers online Spanish practice taught by moms in vulnerable Central American communities for high-impact language learning via WhatsApp. They partner with NGOs on the ground in the communities we serve to provide safe and meaningful work.
In Guatemala City’s Zona 3, many mothers single-handedly support themselves and their families by engaging in dangerous work in the Guatemala City garbage dump. While earning only $3- $5 a day, they are exposed to a plethora of safety risks, and now, COVID-19. Under new, severe restrictions imposed by the Guatemalan government, movement is severely limited, as is access to banks, supermarkets, etc. A majority of these families live in small, cramped champas (metal huts) that are extremely susceptible to heat and house up to 15 people. Not only have many mothers lost their source of income, but are also experiencing immense emotional turmoil and fear.
Another emerging need we are addressing is language immersion. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, study abroad programs have been canceled everywhere. Students across the world looking to immerse themselves in a language and create connections with native speakers have lost this opportunity. Even otherwise, many students generally feel that they lack the full language learning experience because they cannot interact with native speakers. With Olas, students get this experience and build a meaningful relationship with their tutor.
The moms Olas works with earn more in a 1-hour session than in a full day of dangerous work at the Guatemala City garbage dump. When students sign up for lessons, they are not only involved in their own growth as a language learner, but they are also contributing to creating sustainable income for moms. Additionally, these students aid in Olas' efforts to subsidize internet costs for our moms and provide compensated training programs in English language learning, tech- literacy, and self-confidence.