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Despite this harsh reality, Romero Fuentes believes his country can rebuild itself from within. But for the young people to help do that, he says, they need resources and support.
Today, his program offers free classes, tutoring and meals, as well as low cost medical care. His nonprofit, Los Patojos which translates to the Little Ones has helped more than 1,000 children.
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.
Finding hope at home
"In a violent country, the only weapon we can have is love," he said. "These kids are already powerful, but they don't know that yet."
A generation of peacemakers
about social, political and cultural issues. They learn the importance of moral courage, social justice and self expression. They also explore ways to reduce violence.
"Kids here are forced to grow up in a very harsh environment filled with violence," he said.
"We are raising them to be the future leaders of Guatemala," Romero Fuentes said.
Los Patojos has become a Nike Men Jacket Blue
An unprecedented number of children from Central America have made the treacherous journey to the United States to flee violence and poverty in their countries. border. Some 37% are from Guatemala more than any other country, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
At the main center, painted with colorful murals and quotes, children are exposed to a number of creative outlets. They take classes in dance, music, photography, theater and juggling and often put on performances for each other.
"These families are in desperate situations. They have no money and no hope for a better future for their children," Romero Fuentes said.
Leadership seminars teach the children Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner Blue
To that end, Los Patojos offers productive activities for people 3 to 18, all aimed at giving them the tools they need to transform their families and their communities.
"I created a safe place for them to realize that they actually can change bad aspects in their lives and their community," said Romero Fuentes, now 30. "I wanted to give them a better present in order to attain a brighter future."
Romero Fuentes' program takes place in the entire front portion of his family's home as well as another building down the block.
haven in a region where young people are in desperate need of opportunity and protection.
"These classes are to show kids that they can pursue their own passions in order to improve their lives," Romero Fuentes 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, Nike Long Sleeve Fleece Hoodie
and children from all over the community joined the group.
A brighter future for Guatemala's kids
The group's feeding program provides a nutritious meal to more than 100 children each day. For many of them, it is the only meal they will have all day, says Romero Fuentes.
Los Patojos also runs a medical clinic that provides basic health services to Nike Jackets Red And Black more than 1,500 people each year. And the organization is in the process of building its own school, where more than 250 students will attend preschool through sixth grade.
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