FEIH’s co-founder, Ramiro Ocasio, lives in New York City and works in the records department at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. In 2008, Ramiro started a tradition. During the holiday season, Ramiro would visit rural communities outside of El Progreso, Honduras, and bring families living in those communities food, water, medicine and toys. Before one of his trips, Ramiro mentioned his efforts to co-founder and Kirkland & Ellis LLP partner, Jon Henes. Jon wrote a small check to Ramiro and those funds were used to purchase food and toys. Upon return, Ramiro mentioned to Jon how far a relatively modest amount of funds goes in Honduras. For instance, a backpack costs $7, a shirt costs $3 and shoes cost $12. Ramiro and Jon spoke about how Ramiro could change the lives of Honduran children for the better with only a little bit of funds and the passion and commitment of Ramiro.
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 change the primary school into a place where the children could enjoy learning. Ramiro knows that education is the key to changing lives forever. To transform the one room school house with no desks or chairs, no chalk board, and almost no school supplies into a place where children would want to learn, he needed funds. Ramiro reached out to attorneys and support staff at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and raised $3,000. With just that modest amount, the community made this overhaul a reality and built a school that the children could be proud of. During the course of the school year – and for the first time ever in Finca Cuatro – not one child dropped out of school.
In 2013, Ramiro’s life was forever changed. As he stood on a subway platform after work, listening to music, he watched as an elderly man tumbled onto the tracks below the platform. The man was crawling on the tracks, unable to stand up. Without thinking, Ramiro leapt down onto the tracks and, summoning strength he had never tapped into, managed to propel the man onto the platform to safety. Ramiro pulled himself up on to the platform, helped by pedestrians, as a subway train barreled by.
As the story hit the press, supporters nationwide graciously donated money to Ramiro in hopes of providing him 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 would explain 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 – 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, grow and be proud. And, with that, The Foundation for Education in Honduras was born.