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Ministry Highlight: Guatemala
Posted By Web Team On December 2, 2011 @ 1:01 am In Country Staff | 6 Comments
We began our ministry in Guatemala in 1976 as a family help program run by missionaries. The Child Sponsorship Program started in 1980, and the Leadership Development Program began in 1997.
We have one main office in the capital city and two satellite offices. We work with over 35,000 children in Guatemala, and we are serving 19 of the country’s 22 territorial units. We have responded to some of the country’s biggest crises including Hurricane Mitch and Stan, the Corredor Seco famine and the Agatha tropical storm.
Compassion Guatemala has established key alliances with organizations such as The United Children Christian Coalition, Healing Waters International and Fuller Seminary.
Jose Carlos Prem joined our ministry in Guatemala as Country Director in 2008. Before this, Jose Carlos served in leadership roles in companies such as Kerns and Alimentos Naturales and SCENTIA.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an MBA from Rafael Landivar University, Jose Carlos also studied French and German and pursued a Bible teaching degree at one of the largest seminaries in Latin America.
He joined the Theological Latin-American Fraternity and is a Guatemalan delegate for The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.
Additionally, Jose Carlos is a part of the missions committee and preaching team at his church.
Implementing Church Partners
Implementing Church Partners are local churches with whom we work to deliver our child development program and ministry in the field.
We have the freedom to evangelize in parks and public centers in Guatemala and to reach out to people in all areas of the country. The church also has a large presence in the media. However, the church and the country as a whole face shocking levels of violence due to poverty, gang activity and drug cartels from Mexico.
Violence has been a challenge in evangelizing and reaching out to the youth, especially those in need who live in the urban areas and in border towns. There are many victims of this crime and people die every day.
In Guatemala, similar organizations receiving large donations without an established legal identity have served as headquarters for drug operations and money laundering.
In addition, we hold meetings with the pastors to strengthen our partnership, and Partnership Facilitators hold regular meetings with center leaders to discuss the children, topics related to partnership and resource management.
Child Development Through Sponsorship
Your sponsorship of a child in Guatemala provides a variety of benefits.
The 3 to 11 year olds meet after school and they only meet twice a week because of school work. The 12 to 19+ year olds meet on Saturdays because in the public school system, junior high school and high school classes meet in the afternoon.
The development centers also provide special meals for celebrations and extracurricular activities. This food is provided to contribute to the children’s health because there are some cases in which families do not have enough food to provide lunch for their children.
Adolescents are involved in community service, organization of children’s activities, My Plan for Tomorrow, tutoring and vocational training. Child development centers offer vocational training based on need. Some trainings offered include beauty school, carpentry, pastry baking, seamstress training and handicrafts.
INTECAP (Technical Training and Productivity Institute) is a government organization that seeks to train and certify individuals so that they are able to be competitive in the job market. INTECAP is the only other organization available in major towns that provides a similar training program to our ministry. They are the leaders in vocational training. In some cases, we have sought INTECAP’s services to train children.
Additionally, every year child development centers host activities for the children and the parents to work on “My Plan for Tomorrow” together. Some development centers even host parents’ retreats.
Leadership Development Program
Other students want to work to gain experience so it will be easier to find a job upon graduation. And some students work because they attend one of the university extensions which only hold classes on the weekends, so the students take advantage of their available time during the week.
Meetings have included on-site medical check-ups involving lab tests and HIV testing. The reason for this is that there are many poorly equipped healthcare facilities especially in rural areas. Sometimes these facilities provide false and inaccurate diagnoses and prescribe dangerous procedures and/or medications. So we started an initiative to provide medical and dental check-ups with qualified doctors.
In order to contextualize these topics and make them relevant for Leadership Development Program students in Guatemala, we have to help the students think about their future in specific ways. We help them plan for life after college, prepare for their careers and set up goals for the next five to ten years.
Mentors play an important role in the students’ vision and planning. In addition, we have emphasized the importance of setting aside a portion of their income for savings. Finally, we’ve adapted an ecology elective course for our curriculum to reinforce the students’ concern for our planet and future generations.
Our core Child Sponsorship Program, while comprehensive, does not address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. The Complementary Interventions program was created to work with our holistic child development model to provide additional services, such as our AIDS Initiative, funds for Bibles for All Children, disaster relief  and water projects.
Typical Complementary Interventions in Guatemala include: disaster relief, famine relief, potable water, Bibles, nutritional aid for children, scholarships helping students finish high school, entrepreneurship training, medical help for specific emergencies, and vocational training.
Complementary Interventions also benefit our Leadership Development Program students. We offer funds for The Academy Camp, a two-week camp for students who are in the last phase of the Leadership Development Program application process. We also help students in the Leadership Development Program with dental needs.
Highly Vulnerable Children
In Guatemala, highly vulnerable children are usually children who suffer from abuse in their homes, children whose guardians are extended family and can barely afford to provide for the basic needs of the child, or children who are severely malnourished.
For children who suffer abuse, we refer to International Justice Mission  for follow-up.
In a few cases, International Justice Mission intervention has resulted in placing the children in Christian children’s homes. For those whose guardians cannot provide for them, the Implementing Church Partner will provide bags of basic food items.
Sponsor gifts also play a key role in providing for basic needs, such as a bed.
For children who are malnourished, we use famine relief Complementary Interventions to provide assistance.
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