A few years ago, Ryan and I unsuspectingly boarded a plane that would change the trajectory of our lives.  We landed in Guatemala, a place with its fair share of problems.  Poverty is high, social supports are low, and education is abysmal.  We knew this all on an intellectual level before takeoff, but our hearts were still at a safe distance from all that brokenness. 

Our first week in Guatemala was spent in Jocotenango at the El Buen Samaritano Community Center.  This is where our hearts now reside.  El Buen Samaritano allows students to smile, eat, learn, and play.  It basically allows them to be children in a community that often steals adolescence by way of fear, poverty, and desperation.  In Jocotenango, pain is often palpable. Sustainable employment is sparse, homes are mostly fatherless, and worst of all, there is little hope for a better future.

Homes in Jocotenango

Homes in Jocotenango

Yet hope doesn’t feel elusive at El Buen Samaritano.  By providing consistent meals, primary education, basic wellness care, and tutoring, children are able to chase the dream of a productive future.  Despite the amazingness that is El Buen Samaritano, their funding is inconsistent, forcing them to only be open 3-4 days per week while also shutting down programs or withholding pay from staff.  During our visit, God shook us awake and forced us to open our eyes to see that his children were not suffering due to lack of an effective safety net organization, but due to a simple lack of funding.  Our hearts break for the students who get to feel security and love within the walls of the center, but are missing that opportunity because the doors are being forced shut.

For two years since our visit, we have been praying, dreaming, building, planning, and paper-working.  We have big dreams and God-sized goals for how we will serve these kids and their families.  We want to put God’s love into action by bringing health, education, and opportunity to the children of the Jocotenango area.  This organization has been birthed to send the love of our community to the Jocotenango community and create sustainable, long-lasting impact on the youth of the area. We know this is possible because we have YOU!

This organization is strong because our community is amazing.  One thing we know about you is that you want to love big and make a difference. When I think about all that we accomplish together, I feel an overwhelming sense of awe and expectation. There is no doubt that we can come together to make a monumental life-changing impact.

 El Buen Samaritano Community Center

 El Buen Samaritano Community Center

So here is the game plan:

Investors.  We need you!  We are building an army of monthly donors that want to partner with us to impact these lives.  We want El Buen Samaritano Community Center to be open every day.  We want the students to have people consistently loving and caring for them.  We want to help find sustainable employment for families.  We want students to grow in love so they can make a positive impact on their own community.  We want the community of Jocotenango to know they are so loved by us, even though we are a continent away.  We can do this!  You can change lives!

Doers.  We are going to need so many different kinds of people: finance specialists, businessmen, artists, filmmakers, medical professionals, educators, and everything in between.  You name it, we will probably need it.  We want to create a database of doers that we can mine whenever there is a need to be filled.  Our love might start from our bank account but extends to our time and talents.  This is a talented community, and sharing your gifts will make our work so much more effective. 

Ambassadors.  Finally, we need doers to become ambassadors who use their own circle of influence to encourage others to become investors and doers. This can be through blogging, leading tours, speaking, or any other way of shouting from the rooftops “This community loves others… please join us!”

We believe you are going to do great things for Jocotenango. We cannot thank you enough for joining us on this amazing journey - you really do make an immeasurable difference in these kids lives.

Reidun Bures