FEIH Co-Founder & President Ramiro Ocasio speaking with Honduran press at the ribbon cutting for FEIH’s 18th school.
FEIH’s co-founder and President, Ramiro Ocasio, started a tradition in 2008. During the holiday season, Ramiro would visit rural communities outside his hometown—El Progreso, Honduras—and bring families living in those communities food, water, medicine, toys, and other small necessities. Before one of his trips, Ramiro mentioned his efforts to former colleague and FEIH’s other co-founder, Jon Henes. Jon wrote a small check and asked Ramiro to use the funds for any items that the families in Honduras needed. Upon return, Ramiro mentioned to Jon how far a relatively modest amount of funds goes in Honduras. Jon was inspired by Ramiro’s passion and commitment to helping rural families and children in his home country.
In 2012, Ramiro made a slight modification to his vision. Rather than solely providing communities with food, water, medicine, and toys, he went to Finca Cuatro to work with the community to improve primary school into a place where the children could enjoy learning. Ramiro knew that education was the key to changing lives forever, but he needed funds to transform the one-room schoolhouse with no desks or chairs, no chalkboard, and almost no school supplies into a place where children would want to learn. Ramiro reached out to attorneys and support staff at Kirkland & Ellis, where he worked, and raised $3,000. With just that modest amount, the community made this school overhaul a reality and built a school that the children could be proud of. That school year—and for the first time ever in Finca Cuatro’s history—not one child dropped out of school.
Ramiro’s life changed forever in 2013. As he stood on a subway platform after work, he watched as an elderly man stumbled and fell onto the subway tracks. As the man struggled to get up, Ramiro leaped down onto the tracks without hesitation and managed to propel the man onto the platform to safety. Ramiro pulled himself onto the platform, helped by pedestrians, as a subway train barreled by.
As the story hit the press, supporters nationwide graciously donated money to Ramiro to provide him with a better life. However, instead of using the gifts for personal gain, Ramiro collected that money and went to his home country of Honduras to assist those who were much more in need than he. While people who learned of this act were taken aback by his selflessness, his close friends and family explained that Ramiro has devoted much of his time and energy to philanthropic endeavors.
After witnessing Ramiro’s commitment, compassion and love for helping the children of Honduras, Jon decided to help Ramiro do what he really wanted—to start a charitable organization to change education in Honduras. Specifically, he suggested that Ramiro form a charitable foundation to raise funds and transform schools – with full community involvement – in rural areas of Honduras into places where children could learn and grow. With that mission, The Foundation for Education in Honduras was born.
After 8 years of FEIH’s efforts to provide the students of Honduras with a quality education and moving on to construction of our 20th school, we learned that our co-founder Ramiro’s story is impacting students in more ways than we could ever imagine! Recently, a long-time friend of Ramiro’s shared with him that he saw his photo in his daughter’s 6th grade textbook! It is because of our Ramiro’s dedication to FEIH and our supporters over the years that our story has made its way into books that are educating students across Honduras. We look forward to continuing to provide safe, clean and fun schools for Honduran children to learn and grow.