Building a Brighter Future for Guatemala’s Kids


A humbling example of leadership in one’s own community.

New Day

Growing up in Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes watched many of his peers succumb to drugs, gangs and crime.

“Kids here are forced to grow up in a very harsh environment filled with violence,” he said.

Reeling from decades of civil war, Guatemala continues to be plagued by poverty and violence. According to the United Nations, the country has the fifth-worst homicide rate.

Romero Fuentes became a teacher in his hometown, and he found that many of his students were struggling with the same issues his generation had faced.

“Their parents had no jobs; their families were disintegrating. They had no hope or motivation,” he said.

So, at 23 and with his parent’s blessing, Romero Fuentes turned part of his family’s home into a community center. In 2006, he began tutoring and mentoring a handful of kids after school. Word spread quickly, and children from all over the community joined…

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