What is Niños del Lago & Why?

Posted in: About us

“There is no cause that deserves a higher priority than the protection
and development of the child,
on whom depend 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. By offering an educational forest camp experience we will provide the opportunity to participate in educational, cultural, creative, and motivational experience aimed to help children to 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 beogende instelling / 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. NdL will focus on the following articles from this document – Nos. 24, 28-31.

  • Article 24: “Children are entitled to the best health care, clean drinking water, healthy food, and to live in a safe and hygienic environment. All adults and children should understand the basic knowledge to ensure their own safety and health.”
  • Article 28: “All children should be encouraged to receive the highest possible level of education.”
  • Article 29: “The education children receive can help them fully develop their personalities, talents and abilities; enable them to understand their rights, respect the rights and culture of others, and the differences between others and themselves; at the same time, help them learn to live in harmony with others and help them learn to love and integrate into nature and protect the environment.”
  • Article 30: “Children have the right to have their own language, culture, religious beliefs, etc., even if they are different from most people in their country, they should respect their rights.”
  • Article 31: “Children have the right to rest, relax, play and participate in cultural and artistic activities.”

In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals evolved from the United Nations’ Millennium Goals to “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)
  • 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. 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.

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.


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