Guatemala City, a metropolitan area of 8.5 million people, is broken up into what here are called, “Zonas.” The Zonas are geographical regions of a city and function much like zip codes do in the USA. The Paraíso Neighborhood is one of many neighborhoods within the zone (zip code) called “Zona 18.” Paraíso covers only 150 acres, but houses around 30,000 people! That’s a lot of people packed into a small space. Small pockets of people gather for community on the many basketball courts or soccer fields peppered throughout the neighborhood. Engadi has a very superficial impact at this level, but we are at least able to make an initial connection.
We enjoy a special time of interaction and fun with the local families during Family Festivals. Engadi makes initial contact with the families in el Paraíso by using a variety of tools: face painting, carnival games, ice cream, bouncy houses, and so much more. We create the perfect environment where kids and parents can safely share with Engadi staff and the volunteers who serve with us. Family Festivals help us get closer to the families, establish communication, and share what God is doing in their own backyard. We are here to serve the whole community.
Periodically we bring in coaches or sports teams to the Paraiso Neighborhood to host a week-long sports camp, usually for soccer. The coach not only teaches the kids passing, shooting, dribbling, and controlling, but also such important things such as teamwork, communication, and discipline. We want all the kids to improve their soccer skills, but the main purpose is to approach them and let them know about Engadi. It is an initial step in helping them reach their full potential in every sense of their life, not just soccer.
Parks, Playgrounds & Painting
God has called us to serve the community as a whole. What greater way to serve them than to help provide safe spaces for daily interaction? Over the years we’ve helped do that by building stadium seating on the soccer field, worked with the city to build several parks, and painted inspirational murals in key parts of the neighborhood. Who knows what new opportunities we will have to serve.