Angel Ribo On Connecting With International Communities

Angel Ribo Fundraising Superheroes
How can your nonprofit help communities outside of your while also embracing their beliefs, norms and values? 

Angel Ribo answered this question when he founded his organization Wisdom for Kids alongside two of his colleagues and created a program centred around children living in poverty across Latin America.

They discovered that it’s not about teaching lessons to the kids, rather inspiring them to reach their full potential in whatever they want to do.  Learn how Angel created "one of the most impactful workshops ever done to underprivileged kids in the world” in our interview! 

Angel’s Top 3 Takeaways For Working In International Communities 

  1. Respect has to be number one. You have to acknowledge that you are entering someone else’s space and be willing to embrace their culture and values, regardless of how different they are from your own. 
  2. Test and do your research! Angel and his team created Wisdom for Kids’ workshops through careful analysis. They had students and professors come up with a program that they proof tested until it was perfect. They also remain humble by getting the children’s feedback after every mission trip to cater to their needs. 
  3. Speak with the community you want to work with before starting your mission. Angel and his team made a point of speaking with community leaders, parents and children before and after their missions to make sure they were incorporating their culture into the program. 

Our Favourite Quote

[9:32] So going back to our workshops, as soon as we started to try, you know, different activities that would immediately allow us to connect with the energy of those kids, they would immediately engage. Then we could ask them to do things because obviously, we want to get the feedback. I mean, we are very humble.

I mean, to be honest, if we don't get their feedback, we are wasting our time because it's all about them. It's not about us.

Episode Transcript 

Today, we learn how to connect with international communities with the amazing Angel Ribo. Hi and welcome to Driven's Fundraising Superheroes podcast. I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente, and we are innovators and non-profit technology with a passion for helping organizations like yourself unlock the true power of your data. We take a partnership approach with our clients and really want to help them understand that their metrics and get the most out of their fundraising. So if you're interested in learning more, please give us a visit at trust driven dotcom.

We'd love to hear from you. We cannot begin to help people without really understanding where they come from first. Angel Ribo is a consultant and nonprofit founder who believes in connecting with the children his organization serves. Although he is based in Texas, his organization, Wisdom for Kids, has helped more than a thousand underprivileged kids in Latin America become entrepreneurs using their local resources. Angel is known as a CEO Confident, he's an influencer linked in strategic international TV host, public speaker, CEO, board member and philanthropist.

He has done everything in his work with tons of communities worldwide. And today he joins us to discuss the importance of connecting with the community that you want to serve on a genuine level. So thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be here what an honour. And obviously, thank you very much for everybody who is listening to us today.

Fantastic. So can you start us off by getting to know you a little bit better? Can you share about your work at Wisdom for Kids and the mindset you created around that organization?

Oh, absolutely. So basically, well, I live in Plano, Texas, I've been here for the last ten years. Plano is a suburb north of Dallas for the people that are not acquainted with Dallas or with Texas. And I have basically in 2016, I left corporate America to establish my consulting business. And I also to answer your question, started wisdom for kids. And I reached out to a friend of mine and then to his dad and we all three started Wisdom for Kids, which is an international foundation.

It's a charity. And what we do is we help underprivileged kids in Latin America become entrepreneurs using the local resources. I consider myself, Sabrina, someone who helps connect the unconnected. I think that there was born to do this. I think that even my name, which in Greek means messenger angel, you know. So I think that my mission in this dimension, in this planet, in this time is to actually help connect as many people as possible to the unconnected.

And there are, unfortunately, millions, millions and millions of people are connected in the world and are specifically to Latin America. There are 81 "eight one" million kids that live in poverty. So there's a lot to do. There's a lot of connections to make to be made. Sabrina.

Oh, definitely. And I love that you are focusing internationally. I know that for a lot of organizations they usually start in the community that they're living in. So it's interesting that you decided to go beyond that and go global and connect with kids in the country that you're not currently residing in.

Exactly. Well, thank you. That's a great question. But you know what it's like. Well, you I mean, you are in Canada, and I am in the US. But I say for the ones that read my bio online somewhere, I was blessed to with working with many different large high tech companies, and was working internationally all the time. So what happens when you consistently work internationally and I conducted business in more than thirty-three countries.

It becomes normal, Sabrina, you know, so and when something becomes normal, it's like for me going to any of those 33 countries, like going literally to my own backyard. So it's you know, it makes no difference. Obviously, I don't live there, but I've become so used to the people that live there. I have so many friends, partners, business partners, clients. So you become comfortable, you know, at the end of the day, it's a matter of becoming comfortable with stuff.

And I think also that they have developed and developed the habit of consistently becoming uncomfortable with many different things. And so at the end of the day becomes part of my DNA as well. Sabrina?

Oh, for sure. You have to really push yourself if you want to see growth. So it's good that you got comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Totally. Yes, exactly. And just to share a small, like kind of joke or anecdote with everybody here. Actually, when we were starting the conversation today, I had some technical issues and I couldn't fix them. So I said, Sabrina, you're going to be my guardian angel. Okay? I am going to trust- if you think everything is going well, I fully blind eyes trust what's happening. And this is, you know, and I that this is exactly what happens very many times in my life.

For sure,  so when you're doing your workshops with those kids, you know, we were talking before this interview and you were mentioning how you really put an emphasis on the energy in the room. You want to make it so everybody is high energy and they're excited to learn. Why did you decide to focus on this? What research made you come to that conclusion?

That's a great question. So number one I mean, I believe in you know, there's something or someone out there, up there. Right. That someone is always trying to, you know, set you up for victory or for success. And in this case, it was for me to find the perfect team to found, you know, to create wisdom for kids. When I reach out to my friend, I actually had a spiritual experience that made me reach out to my friend and ask them, hey, this just happened and I would like to create something like this.

Who do you think would also make a contribution if he said, we have to reach out to my dad? And I said, why do you do that? Well, because my dad, blah, blah, blah. And when he started to tell me, I said, oh, my God, he's just the perfect person to, like, you know, come with us along with us and start this. I started doing this all together for Wisdom for Kids.

And that's the reason why is the following this gentleman, he's already retired, 70 plus years old, but he teat for 50 plus years the teachers in Mexico. So he literally taught tens of thousands of teachers personally to become teachers in Mexico. And he's very well known. So everybody remembers him. So here we are 50 years later. Right. Literally, there is almost no small town, big town city in Mexico and in many, many countries in Latin America who do not know this guy.

OK, when we started to work on this and we said, OK, so we want to change this, the poverty in Latin America. 81 million kids living in poverty. How do we make sure that regardless of the community, if it is an urban community, suburban community, rural community or even an indigenous community with very, very strong cultural ties? Right. How can we make sure that regardless of where we go, we can make the most of that workshop that we deliver of those workshops?

And he personally, he was just he had not retired at that time. We're talking about 2017, 2018. What he did is he actually had 2 PhD students work on our workshops. So our workshops are the result of a year-plus students thesis about how to make sure that regardless of all the differences, how could we make a difference in the lives of those kids and start them on an entrepreneurial journey? So that's the answer to your question.

I mean, we put this amazing gentleman who's a professor or was a professor and 2 PhD students to work on what's the best way from, let's say, from a teaching perspective, teaching training perspective. And we ended up with the idea that I mean, everybody learns in a different way. As you know, there are people that like images like, you know, visual more people like, you know, more sensorial, multi-sensorial.

Others are more like audio. So how do we make this in a way that we leave a footprint on those communities and those kids and at the same time, you know, they really engage with us and they will always remember us, blah, blah, blah, all those things. Right. So we developed, you know, workshop and we started to, you know, pilot it. We started to proof test it. And we immediately realized that the kids really I mean, the kids are much more close to you know, to nature, much more close to you know, they have not still gone through so many bad things in their lives.

You know, they have not been taught or they have not been indoctrinated by the rest of society because we do that. I mean, we even as a parent, right? I mean, I have kids and I have to say, you know, out of fear and control, you know, I want these kids to I want my kids to thrive. I want them to be secure and we want to be safe and want to be healthy, blah, blah, blah.

You know, we tend to put a lot of boundaries around them. And those boundaries, very often they limit those boundaries, limit their growth. So going back to our workshops, as soon as we started to try, you know, different activities that would immediately allow us to connect with the energy of those kids, they would immediately engage and then we could ask them to do things because obviously, we want to get the feedback. I mean, we are very humble.

I mean, to be honest, if we don't get their feedback, we are wasting our time because it's all about them. It's not about us. So we started trying the different things that we were doing and obviously after the first, you know, missions that we did to Latin America, we started changing them and changing them and changing them until we found what we think is one of the most impactful workshops ever done to underprivileged kids in the world, to be honest.

And we've done them in Spanish, obviously, many times. And we also started to, you know, to process them in English, to be honest, and go into a country in the Caribbean. That and we know we're going to I mean, I speak French, speak Portuguese. I'm sure that we're going to do the same thing in French and Portuguese in the near future, because, again, in Latin America, actually all those languages are being spoken.

So, yeah, I mean, we're starting to deploy or to deliver our workshops and we start to do, you know, connect with the kids at the energy level. And we play, we dance, we sing, we jump up and down. We do you know, we do a meditation. We obviously, you know, we tell them stories and we interact a lot. And we are all the time talking and getting their feedback. And this really resonates with them.

We leave them with that with a booklet so they can repeat that meditation as many times as they want to. So, yeah, there's a lot of things that are behind the simple book, like a simple couple of hours of workshop. There's a lot of research there. There's a lot of, you know, testing done. And I think we have something that is changing, changing the lives of those kids every day. Sabrina.

Oh, it sounds like you are. Definitely. Thank you. You're working with so many different cultures, different of different backgrounds. And for somebody who is kind of coming from the outside and it sounds like you did a lot of work to get to know that community before you went in and tried to make change. How important is getting to know the people you serve just to make sure that you're not, you know, influencing your culture onto them, that you're really embracing their situation and talking to them through their language?

Exactly. This is a great question. And I think that respect really is in the forefront of everything that we do before we even get into a community we connect with some community leaders through our connections. Because I said before, as I said before, I mean, literally, we already have an established network all over the continent. I mean, one of our co-founders wrote more than 74 textbooks that are still today being used in several countries in Latin America as textbooks.

So it's amazing the ability that we have to reach out to communities. But going back to your question, when we you know, we start connecting to these communities, we start with first tell them, you know, we would like to do this. And that's the reason why we would like to do it. The first question they ask us is how much is that going to cost us? And then we tell them, no, no, no, no, that's for free.

That's our mission. That's what we would like to do with our lives. That's what we want to do with our lives. And we would like to keep on doing things, moving forward no matter what. And then we start a conversation and we try to understand that it's very different. It's very different to talk to a community who was already inside the big city or talking to a community which is in the mountains in the indigenous community. We're talking about completely different levels of culture and what let's say what's normal to them.

And we are our level of respect goes to a point in which so that, you know, we don't even take the names of the kids. I mean, we don't carry, you know, like a register of all of our kids because we want to be extremely, extremely, you know, you know, secure or we can we want to have their data completely secure. We don't want to have any risk that someone makes a mistake and discloses all that information of all those kids that we talk to because we are extremely respectful.

But going back to your point, what do we start those conversations? We tell them, hey, this is the kind of workshop we would like to do and we don't force anything. I mean, let me tell you how far we take. We don't force anything to or anybody to do anything or to believe anything. We go to communities and unfortunately, you know, drug dealing, drug addiction, even planting and cultivating and harvesting.

It's a reality in many countries in Latin America, unfortunately. So we sometimes go to communities that actually for a living, what they do is they have to harvest and they have to actually take care of fields that have not the most illegal substances. But we have to be you know, we have to be respectful about what's going on, you know, so we know that even when we drive to some places because we want to really, you know, a secluded kind of remote areas, sometimes the locals tell us, you know, don't go that way or you might be stopped by some cartel or some guerrilla or something, you know, but still, I mean, what we do is all good.

But the reason why I'm telling you this is because your reality in Toronto, Sabrina, and my reality in Plano, Texas, or in Texas in general, and the reality is completely different. So one thing that happens very often is one of the parts of that one of the exercises that we do in the workshop is we ask the kids, what do you want to do when you grow up?

And in communities that are heavily militarized, some kids say, I would like to be a military, you know, and that's not I mean, the military is not the same as in the U.S. And I myself, I'm the great-grandson and nephew of military people in Spain, but in Latin America in general, it's not like in the US that almost everybody has a veteran in their family and the honour and they live by their principles. And it's a great thing in Latin America.

It's not the case. So when someone says, I want to be a military, when you grow up, you realize that in those areas they have had a strong presence of militaries for whatever reason. But there are also some people that say that's the real story. So bringing in some people, some kids raise their hand and they say, I would like to be a drug lord, literally, you know, and we don't judge the kids, you know, who are we to judge the kid?

So our level of respect goes to that point in which we never tell anybody, any kids, any community leader that something is right or something is wrong. Just we just try to say and to tell everybody that we have to be respectful. We have to be accepting. And we have also go we have to go inside of our hearts to try to understand that everybody else's position, you know, and sometimes it's hard because obviously, I'd like to tell every single key thing, that meeting or in that session, I would like to tell them being a drug lord is not a good thing.

But we don't do this because we don't want them to be judgmental. Right. And we respect that. You know, we respect that. And we continue our conversation and then we do our meditation and everything. And we really focus on focus on self-esteem, because as you can imagine, self-esteem is a big thing for underprivileged kids. Very often they are not free in any sense. I mean, very often some of them go to school, others don't.

But all of them probably if they live in a suburban area, in a rural area, all of them probably they work in the fields at some point, one maybe one hour a day or two hours a day or maybe the entire day. They work in the fields with their parents, you know, harvesting or doing things. I mean, that's the reality. I mean, we tend to think that. Kids, even underprivileged kids, live in similar conditions to ours, but they have less money, right?

No, it's not it's not a reality. Reality is that they're a complete environment can be totally different to ours, totally different to ours, like totally different. There's kids that reach, you know, their private security. And they have never studied the book. They have never open the book. You know, it's what it is. But still, we do our best. We still do our workshops. And we still you see, I mean, if it was like whiteboarding, blackballing, what would we do with kids with challenges in learning, you know, so again, very respectful with the cultures and just trying to to be in a point of it would be like delivering our workshops from a place of accepting and, you know, humility and gratitude.

It makes total sense. That was so interesting because I never thought about it from that perspective of the normalization of, you know, dangerous situations like that. And you can't as somebody trying to help these kids, you can't really come in and say, no, don't do that because they're not going to listen to you anyways. So I love that you not only come in with that open mindset, but like you mentioning before asking for feedback, you know, showing the kids that you really do value their input and you appreciate their time as well as they obviously probably appreciate yours.

So how did you begin implementing that feedback system? Was that something you always had a beginning or was it something that you employed during your research?

Yes, no, since the very beginning, when at least I would say four or five people actually in the workshop, although only one is delivering it, the rest are supporting. And then it's like four or five sets of eyes and ears listening, analyzing, you know, that's really what it is. Yeah. So we get a lot of feedback and then we identify who can be the kids that are we are like more prone to becoming entrepreneurs.

And also remember that I mean, not everybody has that both parents alive or they're both parents living with them. Many of them live with their tutors and they can be uncles or aunts or grandparents. I mean, again, unfortunately, those families not always have like a structured. You know, organized, you know, living very often, it's a rough environment, physically speaking and in relationship to speaking. So it's a place where we have to make sure all the time that those tutors or parents can only within eyesight or with a sentence, they can say, no, you know what?

You just learn what you're supposed to do moving forward. It's not going to happen. So really, our workshops, our starting or starting workshops are only a place where we connect with the kids of an energy level and we make sure that we understand what they need. And then knowing the environment, we can start working with them and their parents and even the community leaders to start exploring what could be a good entrepreneurial journey for them. But again, it's a complex environment.

Let me tell you an anecdote that also is going to give you a kind of a reality check of what's going on. I remember going to a rural area one time and all the time, without exception. Always the community leaders say, wow, I can't believe that someone for free is going to do this for our kids because they always tell us the same thing. If it's not you, we know that we will never have this opportunity.

Nobody I mean, the chances of us having someone else like you calling us to do this, it's like zero. But obviously, the parents find out later when the community leader with their influence. Right. The community leaders with their influence, they go to their parents or teachers and say, hey, this group of people are going to be in town or in the community in that particular day. And they would like to do this with the kids, blah, blah, blah, one day.

The actually parents, which is not normally the case, but they showed up. They show that in the workshop and they were coming with everything that they use for the daily job, right. So and I remember one or two fathers, they came with their machetes. Oh, wow. Inside the place where we were conducting the workshop. And I tell you, the faces were not the most friendly faces. They were there like saying, what are you guys going to do here?

You know, I mean I mean, why are you guys, you know, making our kids going to do whatever? I mean, we start just to give you an example, we start jumping up and down to a very nice music in the beginning of the workshop. But they work. They have these faces. And I mean, they carry the machetes. They could have led the machetes outside. They were carrying them inside the place, the room where we're holding the workshop.

And after five, ten minutes, they realized that that was like an extremely friendly, you know, joyful, you know, cared for place of growing learning and having a nice experience. And then they left immediately and we didn't see them for the rest of the day. And then, you know, the community leaders took care of them after the session of the workshop. But it's not always the case. And I understand them. You know, I like to do that diligence myself or things that my kids are going to go through.

Right. Well, we all want to make sure that whenever and wherever we go, we do our diligence before it's too late. And I mean, that's something I actually I always tell my own kids, make sure that you develop a critical thinking. So don't don't say yes for the sake of fitting in. I'd rather have you not fit in that put yourself in a spot that you didn't want to be in the first place and then you don't know how to get rid.

As you know, Sabrina, young people today, they don't have the best, always the best, you know, models to follow. So I think that kids developing a critical mind is a very good thing to do.

Oh, that's a very terrifying situation to be in. You handled that really well.

Yeah, it's yeah. Because at the end of the day, you have to be yourself, you know, and we teach out of heart, out of our hearts, you know, we and we do all sorts of silly things besides what we deliver, what we deliver on the walks. Besides that, I mean, we play soccer and you get to being asked to do this and we are invited to houses to have coffee or to have dinner or to have lunch.

And they I mean, a very humble house. Very humble house I mean, I remember. I guess you ever thought about this, but. Most of the houses that we go to when we go to those communities, they invite us to have lunch or breakfast, for instance, which is the most common thing, because they want to be to show their gratitude to us. I mean, these places don't have their lifestyles. They're basically there and they don't have any sort of, you know, farm system.

So when they are cooking, the smoke is inside all over the place. Just I mean, again, we don't remember this. But if we talk to our grandparents or our great grandparents, who would remember that at some point they were living in a place where these things happen. Maybe, I don't know, one hundred years ago, maybe 70 years ago. But we have forgotten this and we still go to communities that this happens today.

This happens today. And, you know, obviously for the rest of the day, we smell too small, but it's OK because they were so. Oh, my God. Grateful. And they were so loving and caring and appreciative. And they wanted us to be there and they wanted us to take to eat their soups and to eat their tacos or whatever that is, that they were preparing with all their laws and will get to eat those vegetables or those fruits.

You know, it's again, I think it's it would be a good exercise for many of the parents out there if they would take their kids to places like this.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, it's almost like the smell of the smoke is like a badge of honour, like you're being accepted into that community.

Yeah. I mean, we tend to see maybe gunfire's right when we come, but how many times have we been in a place with no dirt. Right. And full of smoke just because unfortunately the conditions of the place is just what they have? It's I wanted to get wet, you know, and when it's cold, they get cold, you know, because their houses are open, literally are open. They're not, like, fully enclosed, they're open.

And but again, it's like for us and it's a privilege to be able to leave that situation. And obviously, I'm explaining this in a positive note saying that we should all be aware, including our kids. We should all be aware of what's going on in the world in many places, in many, many places.

Before we go today, I'd love to get your advice for other people looking to help communities internationally. What are the three things you suggest they do before they even touch base with those communities?

Yeah, I mean, the first thing is, I think I mean, I believe in the in the good that every single human being has inside of them. OK, I that's that's definitely something I am completely convinced of. So the first thing the first piece of advice is if you want to help the community, regardless of the community, the first thing I would advise you to do is first think of something that you really like to do. In my case was intrapreneurship, and it was Skitz, because I had seen so many, so many thousands and thousands of kids in need and also have I had thought so many people about business, business management, sales, marketing, and I had thought so many entrepreneurs that for me or something that they knew I was really going to have fun with.

That's number one. Number two. And I'm going to use a motto I use for my clients and the business part of my of my best of my life, which is taking perfect action. Now, don't try to do things complicated if you already know what your passion is and something that you would like to do. Then choose a community and it can be even a local community or it can be a remote community, an international community to a place that you have a friend.

Make things easy. Go to a place that you already know someone and then profess that you're going to have to announce it to the world. No, just go to that place. Go to that place that, you know, someone organizes mall activity, mission, whatever you want to call it and do it and just go. OK, so first find something that you would like to do. Second, use is an easy path, low-hanging fruit of people that you know, to a place where you think you're going to make a difference and do it.

And number three, you know, be full of it. I mean, don't go there and try to say, no, I'm not sure if, you know, if it's going to work or not. No, no, no. Just be yourself fully, like, fully engaged with the people. Be fully present for every single drop of your sweat you have into that activity, into that mission, into the other thing that you're doing, 100 percent, 100 percent.

And listen, listen, the secret is in the listening is not even in the talking or in the showing is in the listening. That's why we always go so many people to the same workshop. You will say, well, how effective it is. Well, it might be ineffective but or inefficient. But you know what? We get a lot of feedback. And for us to have feedback from our communities is the most important thing. That's the only way to help them better, you know, the first time.

So you guys, when you take step two, which is going to that community, listen and whoof, be fully present and then do everything you can when you do that for the first time, second time, third time and keep on course, correcting course, correcting course, correcting those would be the three steps and you will never honestly you will never regret it. And sometimes people tell me, hey, why don't you go to Latin America, don't do it here locally.

Because I mean, believe it or not, although we live in a pretty good area here in Texas, there's always places in the world excuse me, places in our local communities that they need the same thing. So I always say the same thing. OK, kid, let's do it. I always say, let's do it. Let's do that. Do a branch of wisdom for kids here in Texas. Why not? Or in any other as you know, Sabrina, I mean, you I'm sure you know, in Toronto, plenty, plenty of places where unfortunately the kids don't have the best life, you know, and you definitely can help them.

And, you know, you can help them. As you know, there are thousands and thousands of volunteers all over the place and including Toronto, that help kids in need today. Right now as we speak, of course.

Oh, a thousand percent. Well, that's a beautiful place to end this podcast, Angel, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and giving us such fantastic words of wisdom.

Absolutely. No, thank you. Thank you very much. If I may, I just would like to remind people, if they want to reach out to me, if it's a possibility, just to tell them on my email addresses, which is Angel and girl at Angel Ribo. Ribo is my last name is spelled like "R-I-B-O" dot com again, angel an angel dot outcome. It's been a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me and obviously thank you everybody who is watching or listening to us today.

You can also find Angel's email linked in our description box along with Heslington. And we also have a media kit link that will allow you access to all the social media and where you can learn more about wisdom for kids and how to get in contact with Angel. If you want to work internationally or have planned to do anything internationally, he really is your guy. He does amazing work and I know that you will not be disappointed if you get in contact with him.

And if you want to stay updated on the podcast, we would love it. If you can follow us on social media. Our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are linked in the description box as well. And we are also on YouTube. If you want to subscribe to our YouTube channel in the podcast, we would greatly appreciate it. And you'd be updated when new episodes are alive. As always, thank you so much for listening. And we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.

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By Trust Driven on

Podcast Jun 9, 2021, 12:00 AM

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