Greenangels North Goes South

The Goal

Greenangels heads back to the Baja, back to its origins, to further its efforts in supporting projects with purpose.
Read below about a family, a school and a community purpose.

We’ve written a number of articles about our involvement in the Baja and the wonderful friends we’ve made. From the good folks at Seawatch to the Instituto Internacional de Libertad, from our work at Las Ventanas resort in Cabo to Las Gaviotas resort in La Paz, we’ve been blessed with good people who have become fast friends. Over the past 25 years we have traveled between Baja and British Columbia, always keeping in touch with folks in both places and keeping them close to our hearts. We feel at home both north and south.

The Greenangels name originated in the Baja. Dave took the Angeles Verde name, the trucks that patrol the 1000 miles of highway that stretches from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, helping motorists in distress  and translated it to English because it seemed like a perfect fit for what we work towards. And so, it has been since 1998 when we first introduced the Greenangels website.

The last time we were in Southern Baja was just before COVID changed the world. You’ve read about The Aramburo family in previous articles. Back in Jan 2020, their oldest daughter, Greta, phoned us for some advice which made us decide to fly down for a visit. We spent time with Elsa, the mother, and with Greta and Moises, two of the six Aramburo kids. Elsa showed us through her school, which was still thriving and Greta drove us around so we could see what was happening in both San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. It had been a few years since our last trip so there were some significant changes.

And talk about changes. Right after we returned home to BC, COVID made its presence felt and the world was in lockdown. Things changed dramatically everywhere, not least in the school systems. Kids were told to stay home, schools closed, businesses closed, we all pretty much closed down. The effect was disastrous for many.

Exterior of school
Exterior of school
School courtyard
School courtyard
School kindergarten
School kindergarten

The Instituto International de Libertad (the Aramburo’s school) was one of the victims. Trying to convert from face-to-face learning to online was difficult and not too successful. It resulted in the eventual closing of the school other than a few online high school students.

What happened then and where to from there?

That was of course the question. If there’s the belief that when one door closes, a window opens somewhere, then the search is on for that open window. Elsa, is absolutely a believer and she has instilled that belief in her children. She is always open to new ideas and opportunities. She’s led her life that way.

With the school closed and with an empty building situated in a great location in downtown old San Jose del Cabo, Elsa’s oldest son, Moises, decided that the school rooms could be converted to shops. Why not begin to remodel, a room at a time. In fact why not envision a whole new marketplace in the old school building? Yes, why not?

With some help from Greenangels in the form of a loan, he began, first with a pottery shop, then a spot for a roof top restaurant, then a bakery and who knows what next. After all, there are some 23 classrooms plus a cafeteria and a large playground area. And so it has begun.

Before remodel
Before remodel
After remodel
Concept after remodel

The Aramburos also have property down the road from the school building and again, with Greenangels help, Moises is converting the old storefronts that run alongside the main street, into modern, upscale, glass-fronted commercial spaces, most of which he has already rented out.

You may ask why Greenangels is supportive of all this commercial business since we feature purposeful projects.

Elsa, founder of the school, has always had purpose in mind. She exemplifies giving and service to her community. Throughout the years of the school’s existence, she gave scholarships and free learning to many children in her community. She helped them on their way and instilled confidence in their own abilities.

When the school closed, she struggled to find another purpose for her life, and found one! Of course! What else can be expected from someone with such firm beliefs! Elsa has found an old house that she is turning into an orphanage/elder home for the two bookends of her community. Every society has homeless children and every society has elderly folks who need a home in their sunset years.

casa abuelas
Elsa's orphanage/elder home

But every venture needs funding to see it through. We believe, as does Elsa’s son, Moises, that a commercial venture for the school can lead to a sustainable source of funds for Elsa’s social purpose. That’s why Greenangels and friends have backed Moises in remodeling classrooms for commercial ventures. A portion of the revenue generated can go towards a vital need that Elsa will provide to the community.

The Greenangels motto, at the very beginning, was ‘making a difference while making a dollar. We understand that a vision needs money to execute and that most purposeful projects rarely start out well funded. Most non-profits, for example, spend much time looking for funding, writing grants, soliciting and marketing so as to keep the project alive and doing good. Greenangels has looked to support projects that can sustain themselves and this re-purposed school to commercial marketplace fits the bill.

COVID closed the door on the school but opened a window on a purpose that may well become a centrepiece for the San Jose del Cabo community. We believe that, and we believe in the people who are making it come true.

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