Esperanza Para Guatemala

Empowering Youth in Guatemala

Esperanza Para Guatemala is providing guidance and hope for a brighter future in one of Guatemala City’s most dangerous and crime-ridden areas.

Zone 18 is infamous. Infamous for all the wrong things – drugs, gangs, violence, poverty, darkness, despair, death. Yet the majority of its nearly 1 million residents are trapped through no fault of their own. Trapped with no way out.

However, Jose Armas and his organization Esperanza para Guatemala are convinced that through education, vocational training, tutoring and the teachings of Jesus there is a way out for the children of Zone 18.

Every day Esperanza provides a nutritious breakfast and lunch for a few hundred children and provides support to their extended families, reaching over a thousand people. It serves over 9000 plates of food every month. With loving care and dedicated staff and volunteers it provided tutoring and academic support – providing the only library in Zone 18 with access to books and computer lab for studies. Children are given the chance to learn valuable work skills in the areas of carpentry, computers, cosmetology and baking. Mixing fun and learning together cultivates a family atmosphere to its mission of providing children and their families with tools and opportunities for their spiritual physical and emotional development.

“We want to show the children that yes, it’s possible to have a different life from the one they’ve learned over and over from generations.” Jose Armas, Founder of Esperanza para Guatemala.

Esperanza para Guatemala works under an NGO status in Guatemala, led by a team of dedicated Christian leaders.

Hope in Guatemala
girls in Guatemala
Brenda's Graduation
Guatemalans helping Guatemalans
Guatemala Microloan Partner
brighter futures in Guatemala
Guatemalan boy in cast



Chicos Vivos Begins

November 2009 – Chicos Vivos Begins

Jake and Renee Harder who had recently moved to Guatemala from California, USA started a children’s program in the poor community of Jocotillo, Guatemala. Jake and Renee had been involved with Redeemer’s Church, Reedley CA where When I Grow Up was birthed. We were excited to come alongside them and help fund the Chicos Vivos program they had birthed. 90 kids come to the weekly program – crazy but fun – and immediately a feeding program is started to address the severe under-nutrition the children suffer from.

land rights and true freedom

May 2010 – Land Rights and True Freedom

Chicos Vivos is expanded to the community of Las Mercedes as Jake and Renee work with the community leaders to try to attain land rights for the people of that community. This is a marginalized community with no school, no land rights, and no recognition. Their church, Iglesia Buenas Nuevas, introduces the people of Jocotillo to a Gospel that is about justice and hope for Jocotillo and Guatemala just as much as it is about getting to heaven! Like us they believe the Gospel of Jesus is very much about life before you die!

Esperanza Para Guatemala begins

November 2012 – Esperanza Para Guatemala

With Jake and Renee back in Reedley, CA taking another staff position with Redeemer’s Church we begin a new relationship with Jose Armas and his organization Esperanza para Guatemala. Jake continues to be our Guatemala Leader and we begin to re-engineer an effective partnership with an organization we see outworking the values and vision of When I Grow Up.

spark of hope kindled

January 2013 – Spark of Hope Kindled in Zone 18

We begin formally partnering Esperanza para Guatemala. We are excited about the leadership of Jose and what has been happening in Zone 18, Guatemala City under his leadership. Every day Jose and his team serve breakfast and lunch to 200 children who live in the most violent area of Guatemala City. Linking with local schools they serve 1200 people providing hope. The heart beat of their program is an excellent tutoring center.

City of Hope

May 2013 – City of Hope Founded

Beyond the location Jose has in the heart of Zone 18, he begins a new location on the border of Zone 18 calling it City of Hope. The vision is to see a school developed as well as several income generating enterprises to help Esperanza para Guatemala be more self sustaining. In a quieter safer location he hopes children can thrive in their studies.

a movement, not a mission

December 2013 – We are a Movement, not a Mission

We take our first extended team to visit Esperanza para Guatemala and spend time with Jose and his team. Very quickly Jose learns that When I Grow Up is not your usual American mission organization. We do not go to run programs or build things rather we go to be – be their friends, be learners. We come as servants to learn and return as ambassadors; we don’t come to impose ourselves and our ways on Guatemalans. We are a movement, not a mission.

Jose in Kenya 2014

February 2014 – Learning From Each Other

Jose and Jake join us in Kenya introducing Jose to Furaha Community Foundation and the incredible work they do. Jose’s heart is stirred by what Furaha have developed and returns to Guatemala with an enlarged vision. We are excited to see what is now developed at City of Hope.

crime on the rise

May 2015 – Crime on the Rise

The crime and violence rates drastically increase in Zone 18 and over 96% of the families associated with Esperanza have been impacted by crime and violence. Esperanza launch many additional programs to help the children and families.

Guatemala preschool opens

January 2016 – Preschool Begins

Esperanza preschool opens. A second feeding program begins.

feeding program expands

July 2016 – Feeding Program Expands

A third feeding program is introduced for an area of Zone 18 where gang violence is at the highest.

August 2017 Guatemala

August 2017 – Water Program Launches

Water program begun. This for-profit program helps families in Zone 18 buy affordable clean water and provide some jobs and income to Esperanza.

Christmas in Zone 18

December 2017 – Christmas in Zone 18

A Christmas event was held in one of the most dangerous areas of Zone 18, ensuring the children there can continue attending Esperanza’s programs.


Because where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.