Every child and adult encounters fear and violence on the streets of Zone 18. But in the Caminando por la Paz ministry center, situated in one of the most dangerous and marginalized neighborhoods of Guatemala City, Guatemala, they find peace. That is what Caminando por la Paz means — Walking for Peace. Here, the peace of Jesus fills the center that provides nutritious meals and educational support for impoverished children.
Children and teens gather here daily for the only nourishing meal they will receive all day. Tutors skillfully guide and nurture students so they can continue advancing in their studies and build hope for the future. Once a week, everyone gathers for Holy Hour. Participation is voluntary, but many children come to sing songs, pray, hear Bible stories, and rejoice in the blessings God has bestowed on them in so many ways.
For most children of Zone 18, poverty is an oppressive enemy. It steals their youthful optimism and prevents them from recognizing their God-given talents and potential. Fortunately, this enemy is not more powerful than God, and Caminando por la Paz has proven positive life transformations are possible when both spiritual and material help are provided to the poor.
Related: Addressing Poverty in Guatemala
At Caminando por la Paz, the Lord is using the compassion of our generous donors to deliver incredible blessings to children like Sandra and her sisters. Inspired by a guidance counselor at school, Sandra, 17, recently received a university scholarship to study architecture. Her sisters, Mayle, 15, and Julia, 10, also want to help others in their future careers. Both are so grateful for the opportunity to learn that they want to become teachers.
With scholarships to attend school and daily meals to nourish their bodies, each of the girls has a plan to escape poverty — and to give back for the benefit of others.
Sandra and her sisters dream of a bright future — and work hard to make it happen! Their mother, Juana, is overjoyed that they can dream so big. She earns a meager income doing laundry for others and never expected to have experienced tutors guiding her daughters. “It is a great opportunity for the children,” she said.
Your support of programs that care for vulnerable children helps to spread joy among families in this crowded, dangerous section of the city. Children and teens now see themselves for who they really are — wonderful creations of a loving God!
In addition to scholarships that nourish young minds, your gift also nourishes the bodies of impoverished children. Each of Juana’s daughters relies on a meal at the center that gives them the strength to learn and grow. With assistance in the kitchen from grateful mothers, the ministry provides daily meals to 50 children whose families are too poor to feed them properly. “Some kids don’t have any food to eat,” Juana said.
As Catholics, we know sacrificial gifts placed in the hands of our Lord can have a powerful impact – often blessing others beyond anything we could imagine. Contributions to support Caminando por la Paz are a testament to this, and gifts made to the mission have already begun transforming the lives of young people like Mirzi Pérez.
Like so many young people from Zone 18, Mirzi grew up in extreme poverty and was exposed to almost daily violence. Tragically, when she was just 8 years old her father was murdered, creating even more challenges for her fragile family.
Believing God’s love and mercy could restore her hope in spite of these tragic circumstances, the Church stepped in to help. She received a scholarship from Caminando por la Paz and eventually graduated from high school with high marks. Now she is studying at San Carlos University — an incredible accomplishment and a sign that God is moving among the people of Zone 18. It is also a testament to the love and mercy shown by donors like you!
God can use each of us in mighty ways, just as he did when he stirred the heart of Carlos Miranda, the faithful Catholic operating the Caminando por la Paz mission. Like Mirzi, Carlos was a teenager trapped in poverty. That was when a Catholic priest reached out to him and guided him to a true understanding of himself and God. Dedicating himself to his studies, young Carlos earned a university scholarship. He discovered his natural leadership ability and heard a call to reach out to troubled children.
Because of support from American Catholics like you, Carlos is able to coordinate a ministry team that provides meals, scholarships, uniforms and tutoring so children can nourish their minds and bodies to overcome gang violence and extreme poverty. “We are fighting for the kids,” Carlos said. While the children face a difficult daily struggle, Carlos and the ministry team give their all to show each child and teen how much they are loved.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.”
Cross Catholic Outreach is honored to join Carlos in his battle against poverty’s evils, and we want to empower his efforts to show Christ’s love to those who need it most. We pray you also see the potential of young people in developing countries and will want to join this important cause. Thanks to caring Catholics like you, the ministry center of Caminando por la Paz is already a beacon of hope in a bleak and dangerous slum. With your support, it can be even more!
Without educational support and Catholic spiritual formation, poor children are at risk of joining gangs, doing drugs and falling victim to violence. Join us in reminding children of their God-given dignity. Help us shine the light of Christ into the darkness of their lives. Working together, we can transform lives and restore hope for the glory of God!
Every month (on the 25th)
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2023, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.