Initiative Lead- San Pedro Education
Margaret was born and grew up in Ottawa and arrived in BC in grade 12. Since then, she has spent most of her life in various parts of the province. She attended UBC where she received her BA in French and anthropology. She completed her Diploma of Education at Simon Fraser University a few years later.
Her career has involved education in various fields: elementary education, high school language teaching, adult ESL education, first with refugees and immigrants and then also with foreign students on student visas. First, she taught elementary school in Bella Coola and Tofino for several years. Then she taught high school (French and English) in Ghana, Africa. When she returned to BC she started working with adult ESL students, first in Quesnel, BC, then at Camosun College in Victoria. At that time she also completed an M. Ed. at University of Victoria, specializing in language acquisition.
When she formally retired from Camosun (she is still involved in contract work there), she started studying Spanish and became interested in volunteering with programs in Guatemala. Margaret first discovered ICO by helping Susan Gage and Bill Robson in it’s early days. She found working with the people of the Highlands of Guatemala very rewarding. She has improved her Spanish skills and has learned a lot from their culture and warmth.
Jesus Toc Cosigua
Field Lead- San Pedro Education
Jesus Toc grew up in Chaqujya, a small rural village in the Solola/Lago de Atitlan region of the Guatemalan Highlands, where he was one of many children in a family of subsistence farmers. Because of war and social conditions in Guatemala, his parents were poor and had almost no education.
However, when he was a teenager he received a scholarship to continue at junior and senior high school in a large town in the region. It was there that he began his environmental, technical, and scientific studies. He went on to do a Bachelors’s and eventually a Masters’s degree in environmental engineering with a specialization in Agro-ecology. Among his many jobs, he has worked for the Red Cross in disaster relief, at the Universidad del Valle, and for many government agencies. He now works for an agency that focuses on the development and sustainability of natural resources in the Lago Atitlan area.
He continues to live in his local village and, in addition to his busy work life, he volunteers much of his time and energy in helping to bring education and sustainability to that village and the surrounding region. He is the key to the ICO school and environmental projects in Chaquijya.
Field Lead- San Pedro Education
Javier Navichoc is a Tsutujil Mayan who lives in the town of San Pedro la Laguna on the land where he grew up. He lives with his wife and two daughters who are 10 and 21. He speaks Tsutujil, Spanish and English. When he was a student in secondary school he studied to be a teacher. In 2003 he and a friend established their own school to teach Spanish to visiting foreigners. As well as earning a living for themselves, they wanted to raise funds to help local children get an education. Because of poverty and the social conditions in Guatemala there are many children who had to drop out of school to work and support their families. He and his partner also started a group called Trek for Kids where they took tourists on beautiful hikes in the surrounding mountains. With the money they raised from these trips they were able to provide more help to local children. Bill Robson, a co-founder of ICO, visited Javier’s school about 15 years ago and was so impressed with the work he was doing that he offered to help. That was how Javier initially became involved with ICO.