What is Niños del Lago & Why?

“There is no cause that deserves a higher priority than

the  protection and development of the child, on whom

depend on the  survival, stability, and progress of all nations

and, in fact, of  human civilization.”

World Declaration and Plan of Action from the World Summit for Children, UNICEF

 

WHO ARE WE?

Niños del Lago (NdL) is a Guatemalan non-profit organization that works with vulnerable and disadvantaged children. We provide an educational forest camp experience to children giving them the opportunity to participate in educational, cultural, creative, and motivational experiences aimed to help them fulfil their potential, dare to dream, and become empathetic future leaders and positive role-models to others.

Niños del Lago is a registered Asociación Civil no-lucrativa in Guatemala, a US-registered 501©(3) NGO (non-governmental organization), and a registered ANBI (Algemeen nut beogendeinstelling / Public benefit organization) in the Netherlands. Niños del Lago’s educational and recreational forest camp is situated in a beautiful cloud forest just outside the village of San Andres Semetabaj and about a 15-min drive from the popular tourist town of Panajachel on the shores of Guatemala’s famous Lake Atitlan. It is here in Pana (Panajachel) that the NdL office is located.

WHY NIÑOS DEL LAGO?

NdL strongly believes in the Rights of all Children. We are inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and  their Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was created back in 1990, but is still the leading document regarding protecting children rights today. NdL will mainly focus on the following articles from this document – Nos. 24, 28-31, but also strongly believes in all 54 articles. (A child is any person under the age of 18 – Article 1.)

  • Article 24: “Children have the right to the best health care, clean water to drink, healthy food, and to live in a safe and hygienic environment. All adults and children should have information about how to stay safe and healthy.”

  • Article 28: “Every child has the right to an education [and] should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible.”

  • Article 29: “Children’s education should help them fully develop their personalities, talents, and abilities. It should enable them to understand their own rights, and to respect other people’s rights, cultures, and differences. It should help them to live peacefully and protect the environment.”

  • Article 30: “Children have the right to use their own language, culture, and religion.”

  • Article 31: “Every child has the right to rest, relax, play, and take part in cultural and creative activities.”

In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals evolved from the United Nations’ Millennium Goals “to end poverty, reduce inequality, and build more peaceful, prosperous societies by 2030”. We advocate:

  • Goal #4: Quality Education to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

WHY GUATEMALAN CHILDREN?

  • Less than 50% of children continue into middle school. (USAID)
  • Average years of schooling 6.5/10.8 (UNDP)
  • 2/3 of the population live on less than $2 a day. (USAID)
  • Ranks 4th in Latin America for (high levels) of child labour (ENEI 2018)
  • Has the 6th worst level of chronic malnutrition in the world and the 1st worst level in Latin America. (USAID & FAO, 2018)

Many children live in poor, remote rural areas, or urban environments with little to hope for, or dream for. Without the guidance of mentors/role models, children have little motivation to stay in school, and economic pressures results in many working for their families. Without being able to imagine the possibility of a better future, it is impossible for them to escape the cycle of poverty and in some cases, violence in their families and communities.

In the Highlands of Guatemala, where NdL works, and especially Mayan communities the statistics are much worse than those above. Less children graduate and less children continue into further education.

Guatemala has enormous resources and potential, but the future is uncertain without a future generation of empathetic change-makers and leaders. At Niños del Lago, we believe that positive change comes from within; today’s young people can be positive catalysts for future peace, harmony, and prosperity in Guatemala.