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Creating options that will become actions

Posted in Blogs on May 23, 2017

Cristina Peña

My three-week trip to Guatemala showed me the hidden face of a country that is considered one of the most violent. Like most Latin American regions, Guatemala is a country of contrasts: being three times bigger than the Netherlands, extreme poverty and violence coexist alongside a great deal of cultural wealth and natural resources.

Guatemala has the highest percentage of adolescents in Latin America: in 2011 more than half of the population was under 19 years-old. The majority of young people does not have access to education, nor the opportunities that are required to end the circle of poverty, but they want to be part of the change to break the traps for people in poverty.

I had the opportunity to talk with children and youth who participate in the projects of the Aflatoun Network in Guatemala. I also had the privilege of working with the World Vision Team in the preparation of a new curriculum called Youth Ready[1]. During a visit to one of the World Vision schools, we asked a group of teenagers from the Kachiquel indigenous community about their life projects. Like most kids, they like to “play football” and “enjoy life”. They also want to “continue studying” and “have their own business after finishing their education” but most of them are not going have this opportunity.

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child marriages in Latin America, especially among the poorest rural indigenous communities. In this context, the work of all NGOs present in the country acquires special relevance. Aflatoun’s partner organisations are implementing projects aimed at generating opportunities for children and young people in Guatemala. The Aflatoun Network in Guatemala works with different types of populations, from early childhood to the parents, these are some examples of the amazing work that is being carried out in the country:

  • At Colegio El Porvenir, located in the rural community of San Lorenzo el Cubo (near to Antigua city), teachers learned students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Through activities and celebrations, students in two elementary schools and Secondary School, the Foundation Niños de Guatemala is putting into practice the activities learned in the savings clubs.
  • In the region of Quetzaltenango (Xela), the organisation Proniños (StartUp4kids) works in special education. Teachers have adapted educational material for a group of deaf children, some of them who are schooled for the first time.
  • AMG International is implementing Aflatot, Aflatoun and Aflateen curriculums. Through additional sessions, Aflateen youth’s parents are also carrying out some of the Aflateen activities, to support the teenagers’ learning process.
  • ChildFund Guatemala is implementing the Aflatoun curriculum to support the programme “Seeds of Change,” which promotes financial planning and business skills. They are working to give children in these rural areas the opportunity to complete their education with support from parents and other community members.
  • Working with children and youth mostly from indigenous communities, Plan International Guatemala efforts are strengthening adolescents’ skills for life.
  • Children International Guatemala is implementing youth programmes such as Sports for Development, Youth Health Corps and Social and Financial Education, to help end the cycle of poverty.

All these strategies from Aflatoun’s partners are being translated into options so that young people become agents of change in their communities.

Aflatoun is supporting millions of children and youth to become agents of change in their lives and their communities.


[1] https://www.aflatoun.org/youth-ready-accelerator-workshop-guatemala/