I started KrisforKids originally in order to help fund my work here in Guatemala for Niños del Lago and to stay in touch with friends and family who I would miss greatly while I work on this project that is very close to my heart. For those of you new to my story, here's a little background:
About five years ago, I traveled to Guatemala for a 3 week Spanish class and to search for a start-up project where I could make some level of difference. Guatemala was of particular interest to me – their poverty and illiteracy rate is one of the highest in Central America and they are still suffering from the 36 year civil war that ended ten years ago. Guatemala is our neighbor just south of Mexico, their needs are great, and their resources are limited.
I was referred to Niños del Lago, a project to develop a camp for Guatemala’s at risk children. I was especially drawn to this idea because it builds on existing programs and is being developed as part of a network of services as opposed to a stand alone project. Children's causes have always been my passion. We've all had experiences as a child where just one encounter with someone or something positive became a pivotal moment for us. Children need this and I am passionate about supporting organizations that exist to do this.
After hearing about the project, I sent an email to the Founder, Arlaine Cervantes and via a series of strange circumstances, discovered that I was on my way back to Guatemala through her home town, LaPaz, Mexico. I already had tickets in hand to LaPaz when I learned this -- A coincidence worthy of my attention.
While there, I worked with Arlaine to prepare the 501C3 application for non-profit status, which was quickly approved. I later served on the Board of Directors and worked on special projects including recording financial information, creating budgets and helping with an overall plan.
Five years later, in 2009, I came to Guatemala to work directly with Arlaine. Up to this point, the land had been acquired and cleared, the camp entrance had been built and water tanks had been installed. Further, Niños del Lago had developed an organization in the Netherlands that had provided funds for further construction and they developed a global partnership with Capgemini.
With all this progress, Arlaine needed some focused assistance. For this reason, I decided to move to Guatemala to help with the next phase of Niños del Lago’s development: building the administrative infrastructure and working with Arlaine to expand our presence in Guatemala, developing the networks of organizations that will refer the children to the camp and establishing the University partnership which will supply our role models and camp counselors to us through a work/study program.
Research shows that a well organized camp experience with individual mentoring to the child and focus on building self concept does make a difference. I hope you’ll join me and support ninosdellago and the children of Guatemala.