When Kristin Van Busum went to Nicaragua, she met a twelve-year-old girl named Ana working at a coffee farm. Ana, who attended school for only two years, would follow Van Busum around and inquire about her life, and Van Busum would tutor Ana for two months and they would color and play jump ropes.
“She had all of these endearing qualities that a child should have—like energy, enthusiasm, idealism, persistence, resilience, and curiosity—and none of that would ever matter because she just was sort of put in this domestic role,” Van Busum said. “They didn’t have anyone advocating for them. They didn’t have the system set up.”
Her time with Ana inspired Van Busum to create her startup Project Alianza in 2015. The Boston-based nonprofit organization is dedicated to ensuring that children at risk for child labor in rural coffee villages have access to a safe, high-quality education.