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. 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.