NINOS DEL LAGO
February 22, 2011
Four years ago, a photojournalist friend and colleague who has worked on the streets of Brazil with homeless children told me about woman she had met in Mexico who started a unique program working with Guatemala's poorest, most at-risk children. Her name was Arlaine Cervantes, and she had recently started Ninos del Lago. A nature camp overlooking one of the most beautiful lakes in the Western Hemisphere, Lake Atitlan. The camp was being created as an inspirational educational retreat designed to give these children their first opportunity to play, to learn, to be creative and to dream in a safe, secure and nurturing environment. I was immediately taken by the passion and unique vision of Arlaine, and she convinced me to fly down to Guatemala to see the camp site and the children for myself. I never looked back. There is not another program of this type in Central America, and when we are complete, Ninos del Lago will serve as a model program to help transform the lives of forgotten children throughout Central and South America. Since that first visit I have been back to Guatemala several times and have seen the progress and momentum. It started as one woman's dream but has developed into project that is now getting support from volunteers in the US, Holland and throughout Guatemala. We still have a way to go, but we now a core team of dedicated volunteers and sponsors who have helped us overcome tremendous obstacles.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
By traveling to Guatemala, visiting the schools, seeing the camp and the children who will be the first group to attend the camp when we open. I have seen the cabins being constructed, and the local workers as they take great pride in working on this project for the children.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Hire more full-time staff and not rely so heavily on volunteers and board members so that we can move ahead more quickly. But we need more donor support and grants to be able to hire the right people.
Board Member & I have been working Arlaine Cervantes in fundraising, spreading the word about Ninos del Lago, and developing relationship with donors and corporate sponsors.
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