My life as a tour guide in Guatemala
My name is Christian and I grew up with my grandparents in Ciudad Vieja. I come from a family of seven children. My mom left my sister and me when I was three years old, because she couldn’t take care of us financially. I had the opportunity to go to a private school, but my siblings born after me didn’t. My mom decided she wanted to raise the rest of her kids by herself and that is what she did. They were less privileged than me and didn’t have the access to good resources. My mom now sells necklaces in San Felipe de Jesús, a town nearby Ciudad Vieja, to financially support the family, but it still isn’t enough to send my siblings to a good and decent school. This is why my mom applied to Niños de Guatemala and that’s the reason why four of my siblings go to school at NDG in Ciudad Vieja.
I went to a public Kindergarten, but studied in private schools the rest of my life. One of the main differences between public and private schools are that public schools are basically free, but don’t provide high quality classes. However, Niños de Guatemala provides this high quality classes to low income families in Guatemala. At the NDG schools the children get classes in English, computing, and Kaqchikel — classes they wouldn’t have received at public school. What touches me the most is the personal attention NDG gives to their students. Every afternoon students who need extra help, get ‘refuerzo’, where a student sits down with their professor in a small group or individually so he or she can work on the things that are difficult for them. My siblings are benefiting from NDG and can have a better life in the future.
Niños de Guatemala really has helped the community of Ciudad Vieja. Family businesses have grown during the years, there is less illiteracy (because children motivate their parents to study and learn) and parents are stimulated to share the right norms and values with their children. I think my siblings and all NDG students have the chance for a better future than their parents. They will know how to study, find a job and treat their children with lots of respect.
The programs NDG provides to the children, like social work and psychology, teaches them that every child in Guatemala is entitled to the same rights and values. I really like the Padrino Program, I benefited from a similar program in my private school, and it taught me that people all across the globe are willing to help others. It shows a child that somebody who doesn’t know you in person can show you love, such as by regularly sending letters. Because of the Crianza con Cariño program, parents are less likely to use violence to correct their children, and in this way their children will grow up with a different mentality.
Our tour to Ciudad Vieja takes you off the path and not only shows you the beauty of Guatemala, but also the reality. Being a guide is an important position in NDG as I can share and exchange my personal story and the local stories about Ciudad Vieja and the impact NDG has made on the community. The tour to Ciudad Vieja gives you insight into the people’s life in Guatemala — how they live, what they do for a living and what local work looks like. Tour participants can see the beauty of the local jobs, but also the danger of performing them.
If it wasn’t for Niños de Guatemala and its social businesses, the life of the citizens in Ciudad Vieja would be totally different.