First Cheers for Change Event Held in Guatemala

Photos Thanks to Luis Morales Photography

Long-time JustWorld supporters Enrique Arenas, Herman Herbruger, and former Olympic rider Juan Andres Rodriguez from Guatemala decided to unite to form the Consulting Group of Los Patojos, a group of passionate individuals who are working together to bring sustainable change to Guatemala. This group wishes to help further grow JustWorld’s partner project Los Patojos in Guatemala and eventually spread the model to other communities around their country as well. One of the first initiatives the Consulting Group organized was Guatemala’s first Cheers for Change event, which proved to be a successful model in awareness building among their own network of family and friends.

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For the Cheers for Change event, Enrique Arenas organized a dinner party, inviting twenty-five close acquaintances as well as Los Patojos’ Founder and Director Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes. Juan Pablo shared his experience starting Los Patojos and the lessons he learned along the way. While working as a teacher in Guatemala, Romero Fuentes saw his students struggling with drugs and gangs, issues that his own generation faced as well. Therefore, at the age of twenty-three, he turned part of his family’s home into a community center and started Los Patojos, which means “Little Ones,” in Jocotenango. In 2006, Romero Fuentes opened his doors to children as a shelter away from the everyday street violence, drug dealing and illegal activities that continue to plague the country.

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With the support of JustWorld International, Los Patojos completed construction of its new academic center, El Centro Socioeducativo Lic. Magno Rudy Romero Arévalo, nine years later. This center allows Los Patojos’ team to serve more than 250 students in the education and nutrition programs; hundreds of children through The Samuel-Sanford Family Performance Hall which includes music and art studios where art and cultural shows, lectures and social activities are held; and more than 400 patients each month in its very own medical clinic. This accredited alternative education program offers hope and opportunity for the entire community.

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During the night, members of the Consulting Group of Los Patojos presented how they got involved and shared their own experiences with JustWorld. Herman Herbruger explained how he has seen the positive impact of Los Patojos firsthand by hiring five youth who have been involved in the program from the start and volunteer all of their free time to help the Institute of Cultural Action. Herbruger shared that Juan Pablo and his team are offering opportunities for more students to attain higher education each year, ensuring their chances of success. The creativity, skills and sense of community instilled by Los Patojos set the foundation for the students’ careers and are opening up additional opportunities for promotions.

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The goal of Cheers for Change is to unite JustWorld’s supporters to help spread JustWorld’s mission and also help fund education and nutrition programs for children at JustWorld’s partner projects around the world. During the night, guests pledged to make a monthly donation to help support Los Patojos’ programs. Together that night, attendees raised $9,300, which supports 186 students for the month.

It is together, through JustWorld’s network, that JustWorld is able to empower more than 6,500 children in Cambodia, Honduras, and Guatemala, giving them a hope for a brighter future.

“The chain effect of change starts by mobilizing the local communities and getting them on board,” shared Juan Andres Rodriguez. The Consulting Group of Guatemala plans to follow the success of the first Cheers for Change event by hosting similar events to introduce Los Patojos to more people in their network and allowing them to make a collective impact.

More on hosting your own Cheers for Change

With a goal of 100 Cheers for Change events this year, you can be a part of this movement! With a JustWorld toolkit, you can personalize your own celebration. This toolkit will provide you with materials to share JustWorld’s mission with your guests. With easy print-out materials to fun party ideas, you can truly make this event your own. You can also find JustWorld branded party ideas at https://www.zazzle.com/justworld.

For more information on hosting your own Cheers for Change event, contact aconiglio@justworldinternational.org and explore these helpful links:

Be sure to promote your event on social media using #CheersforJustWorld, to spark the “change effect”, encouraging others to be a part of the movement!