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The First Entry!

My name is Ben. This is the first entry of my blog. I’m not really sure who would be interested in reading about what I have to say but I’ve been working towards a pretty big change in my life, so maybe it’s worth documenting.

The “big change” is this; we’re going to change my cafe (The Final Step, or TFS) into a social enterprise and use the profits from TFS to fund projects aimed at underprivileged children in Argentina. We have created an NGO called Social Opportunity Group (SOG), to facilitate these projects. I’m going to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina and be part of the projects that we will engage in.

I say “we” because there are quite a few people involved in this. It’s a bit of a jigsaw really, and everyone involved is a pretty damn important piece of the puzzle! From customers to suppliers to TFS staff members to SOG members to friends and family, all parties make a valuable contribution. A contribution to what? To……hopefully making a little bit of a difference in some poor little kid’s lives, who don’t have the capacity to make the difference themselves.

So over the past few months we have been implementing systems in the cafe, changing TFS into a trustee company, talking to suppliers, filling out applications for SOG, writing project plans, talking to anybody involved in anything similar and locating contacts in Buenos Aires. It’s been pretty busy, but an enjoyable process because of the prospect of possibly achieving what we are setting out to do.

On the 3rd of June I fly to Buenos Aires. I will be there for 3 weeks trying to develop the first project for TFS to fund and for SOG to facilitate. We have an idea for a breakfast program that we think is realistic and achievable. But being realistic, we will be trying to engage in this project in a developing country that functions quite differently than the one we are living in now! We realise that although our idea is a good one, we have to be prepared to adapt the project to the conditions. There are going to be environmental, governmental, cultural and social hurdles or barriers that we will have to negotiate. Therefore our project may look quite different after a few weeks on the ground in B.A.

I will be staying with my good friend and SOG’s project manager in B.A., Valeria. Valeria has the heart of gold and has been involved in all sorts of projects helping people less fortunate. We are going to be hunting out food banks, approaching schools, meeting contacts and establishing relationships.

Our first contact’s name is Juli. He is a teacher and the coordinator of community spaces “refuerzo escolar” in poor suburbs across B.A. I’m pretty excited about meeting him because he is involved in music classes and activities for children all over the city. Our aim is also to try to gain access a site or location for the implementation of our project. Hopefully Juli will be able to assist with this.

To be honest, I am really excited, but also a little bit nervous of what is to come! We have amazing people around us and a great support network so I think we are on the right track. The journey we are about to embark on is going to be pretty epic! The plan sounds fine and dandy sitting here in this not so governmentally corrupt, socially secure and developed nation. So who knows what Argentina is going to throw at us? I can’t wait to step out of my comfort zone into a different world, that plays by a different set of rules, that speaks a different language. Hopefully my Spanish is up to scratch!

I’m going to leave it at that for now. I’ll post again after a few days in Buenos Aires. Adios.