Meet Juanes. He is a regular participant in Engadi’s Derek Program for at-risk boys living in Paraíso, a neighborhood in the northern slums of Guatemala City. Juanes has one of the highest attendance records within the Derek Program, and can regularly be found helping younger boys within the area complete their community service projects, or helping them in their discipleship groups.
Juanes’ mother makes tortillas within the community, earning little more than a few dollars a day to support their family. His father is absent from his life. In spite of being fourteen years old, Juanes has never been able to attend school due to unusual events surrounding his emergency birth in 2001 that prevented him from receiving a birth certificate. To the Guatemalan government, it is as if Juanes didn’t exist, at least until a few months ago.
Last fall, Manuel, David, and James, of Engadi Ministries, began working with Juanes and his family to locate the small public hospital where he was born, petition for a new birth certificate, and register Juanes with the national government. In October, after searching through years worth of handwritten birth records, Juanes’ file was found in a small hospital across Guatemala City, but that was just the beginning of the process.
Yesterday, after numerous trips to the capital city, visiting at least four separate public offices, and countless hours waiting in lines, Juanes received his birth certificate, and was registered with the Guatemalan government, allowing him to enroll in school, and one day apply for jobs and get married.
Juanes can’t wait to begin studying and learn to read and write. He has already been working one-on-one with Engadi’s Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator, Manuel Fajardo, and has learned to recognize and write letters including his full name, which was made official this winter: Juan Jose Cutzal.
What an example of #hope he is! Engadi will continue working with Juanes and his family to help him reach his full potential in Christ.