Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

A family trip becomes a learning experience for others

The Donor: Alan Harman

The Gift: Creating the Alma Children's Education Foundation

The Reason: To support education programs in Peru

Story continues below advertisement

A few years ago, Alan Harman and his wife, Carine Blin, took their three young children on a four-month trip through Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Peru. The trip became more than a family adventure and left a lasting impression on all of them.

"We ran into an awful lot of poor people in the course of four months," Mr. Harman recalled. "We just had one of those moments where you wanted to do something about it."

After returning home to Toronto, Mr. Harman began researching various programs focused in Peru. Last year, he raised $10,000 for a series of education workshops in Urubamba, a town in southern Peru near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The area is among the poorest in the country and nearly half the children are illiterate.

"I thought that would be the end of it," said Mr. Harman, 49, a senior investment executive at ScotiaMcLeod. "But I ran into so many people down there that had so many wonderful ideas on how to improve the lot of children around education that I just got excited about all these others ideas."

Mr. Harman soon created the Alma Children's Education Foundation ( alma is Spanish for soul), a registered charity, and he is now working on funding seven projects in Peru. They include building a new studio for a novel arts program run by a former Peruvian ballerina, creating a computer training centre for teenagers, funding construction of a new building at a primary school and developing an arts education program at a high school.

Mr. Harman hopes to raise $50,000 this year for the projects and he has raised about half that so far with help from friends and work colleagues. Once those projects get going, he hopes to expand the effort.

"I want to build it out. I want to go to Bolivia at the end of this year and hopefully create more projects in Peru and Bolivia as well," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

His three children are "pretty keen" about the foundation too, he added. "I'm hoping that as this grows and develops ... one day they'll be more involved in it."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to