Impact Guatemala serves the community of La Pinada through a partnership with Senderos de Luz (Pathways of Light), which was founded by Hilmar and Carmen Avila in 2008 to address the needs they recognized in and around their own community.
Senderos de Luz operates a community centre in La Pinada that is a hub for social assistance programs, vocational training, and a feeding program for local children living in poverty. The building houses a sewing room, a woodworking shop, as well as a kitchen and dining hall. The ministry of Impact Guatemala also includes repairing homes, providing monthly grocery hampers to improve the living conditions of families in need, and covering tuition for a small number of children.
Senderos de Luz is blessed financially, relationally, and spiritually by its partnerships through Impact Guatemala. They have received more support this year, which is allowing them to grow their reach and expand their mission. Within the community of La Pinada, we have learned that Hilmar is highly respected and is doing all he can to help the families in the community. The community members speak highly of the support that Senderos de Luz is providing the children of the community and parents.
Feedback received from the community shows that not all the community members are aware of the vocational classes they can participate in. They would like to see more flexible class times that would allow them to participate after their work days.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Hilmar has continued to work at building relationships with community members. This allows him to build trust and rapport with them. There are many benefits that have come from this including: assisting the needs of families, running the children’s feeding program, hosting vocational classes and sharing the Word of God with them.
Children’s Feeding Program
Guatemalans do not consume highly nutritious diets. Many individuals have diabetes and rotting teeth due to the lack of nutritional education provided to them and quick access to cheap, unhealthy food options. Hilmar has continued to work on building up the feeding program for children in La Pinada. The struggle here is getting children to attend regularly and consistently. Hilmar strives to ensure all children are known, reached, and welcomed. He is working towards implementing a more consistent leadership presence in the feeding centre to create an ever growing positive atmosphere and have consistent attendance & growth in numbers.
Many children drop out of school halfway through elementary school, and if they remain in school, many do not continue in their education past Grade 6. Therefore, finding a decent job is difficult for many due to the lack of education. Hilmar has continued to work on building the vocational classes within the community of La Pinada, making it affordable for young adults and parents to attend the classes, gain a new skill, and hopefully improve their economic standing.
The past 6 months included creating building plans and program plans for the new building, as well as fundraising for the program overall. With the funding for a new building, Senderos de Luz will be able to provide quality, affordable education to youth and adults. Weekly classes are held at the community centre for youth and women. Currently there are carpentry classes held in the woodworking shop and sewing classes for women.
Senderos de Luz plans to continue hosting the twice a week feeding program and work on reshaping the feeding program to have more structure in La Pinada, more leadership present, and a greater focus on faith. They will also continue providing educational support to community members and benevolence support for the community’s most vulnerable families.
Hillman is also working to increase advertising and raise awareness of the programs & classes available to them through Senderos de Luz.
Stories of Transformation
When Rosie and her family moved to La Pinada, they didn’t have any source of income to support their children and growing family. Hilmar met Rosie and her husband Rodolfo and was able to encourage them and support them. He gave them the opportunity to work at Senderos de Luz. Rosie is now a paid staff member filling the role as the main cook for the feeding program. Furthermore, through working alongside Hilmar, they were able to work to build themselves a home located right beside the feeding centre. Senderos de Luz also empowered Rosie to take vocational classes and then start her own side business. She now makes and sells bags and hammocks as an additional form of income for her family. Rosie and her family were met by God’s love through the love that Senderos de Luz and Hilmar showed them. They now attend church regularly are thankful for God for all He has done to provide for them through Senderos de Luz and Impact Guatemala.
Several years ago, Impact Guatemala spent time with Take Heart Missions and Senderos de Luz to map out the best way that our goals and values can work alongside each other. Take Heart Missions from North Carolina, USA is a new Cooperative Participant in the La Pinada community. Take Heart Missions will also be working side-by-side with Senderos de Luz and Impact Guatemala to bring transformational development projects into this community.
This year, Take Heart will financially support the beginning stages of construction on the new building that will house vocational school for all ages and a feeding program centre.
The Forge Interns for International Teams Canada visited Impact Guatemala for November 2018. The interns were able to spend a significant amount of time with Hilmar and local community members to gain a deeper understanding of the program’s successes and areas of improvement.
Our first art auction was successful – we raised around $10,000!