In 2006, our founder, Marten Dresen came to Guatemala to learn Spanish and volunteer with a non-profit in Ciudad Vieja. During his trip, he befriended a girl named Mirna from the local community. After noticing that she was always barefoot, Marten decided to give her a pair of shoes. Mirna’s gratitude touched him so deeply that he was moved to do more for Guatemalan children from low-income families, realising that a relatively small investment could make a huge difference in their lives.
After returning to Holland, Marten allied with his friend Sander Wirken and his sister Annemiek. They believed that the key to a better future for children like Mirna was access to quality education and as a result, Niños de Guatemala was born. The organization was founded in the Netherlands and the Dutch branch started its fundraising activities. In 2007 Annemiek moved to Guatemala to start the organization there, together with Antigua local Carmen Paniagua. Sander joined them in 2008 in preparation for the construction of the first school. The first primary school opened its doors in 2009.
Niños de Guatemala currently operates 3 schools outside Antigua Guatemala helping over 500 children from low-income families a year. With our partnerships in the NL, US, France, and volunteers from all over the world we help provide innovative education and support to the families. Our core educational program Skills for Success gives the children the tools they need to succeed in school and in life.
We partner with the local community: our Teachers, Principals and Country Director are Guatemalan and we partner with people from all over the world.
To address the issue of quality education within its schools, Niños de Guatemala educates over 500 children a year across its three schools. NDG works to offer quality education to its students so they will be prepared to continue their education. In addition to an advanced curriculum, NDG also focuses on the well-being of each student through the Family Support and Nutrition and Health Programs. Ensuring that the mental and physical needs of students are taken care of allows for students to focus in the classroom and dedicate their full attention to their studies.
In Guatemala, education is technically free and required through primary school. Although education is provided by the government, students are still required to pay for uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation, making access to education more difficult and, in many cases, impossible.
Less than 45% of all Guatemalan children continue their education after elementary school. At Niños de Guatemala, over 90% of elementary school students move on to middle school.