Only A Child’s work with disadvantaged youth in Guatemala seeks to break the cycle of chronic economic need while responding to its ramifications: hunger, malnutrition and disease; hopelessness and despair; delinquency and violent crime. We recognize and respond to critical social concerns in present day Guatemala by offering educational resources and opportunities for betterment to young lives previously denied them.

Organizational Description and Goals

For 27 years, Only A Child (OAC) has touched hundreds of young lives. At the time of its inception in 1994, OAC worked with homeless children in Guatemala City. Our initial years were spent in outreach, sharing the streets these children called home. It was at their urging that we opened a shelter in February of 2000. Before long we also launched a carpentry shop and organized a back-to-school program to prepare our youths to fulfill their desire to leave the streets behind. Several years ago, however, the surge in migration – specifically large numbers of young people leaving their homeland in search of opportunity and a better future – compelled us to rethink our mission.

Today OAC’s primary objective is to provide secondary and university level education to youths coming from predominantly rural areas and impoverished backgrounds. Given their previous circumstances, they’ve much to overcome. The communities from which they come are isolated and lacking in resources and, as a result, limited in terms of possibility and scope. They offer few options for education and employment. Such areas all but guarantee that their residents will be channeled into lives mirroring those of the generations which preceded them. Our goal is that, upon completing their studies, our graduates will return to their neighborhoods to serve as an example to other young men and women, while inspiring a level of expectation and hope uncommon to the communities from which they come.

  About Us  
Only A Child maintains a home for youths who have left family behind and traveled great distances in search of previously unavailable opportunities for betterment, through education. Since the onset of COVID-19, our residents have spent their time in quarantine and not infrequently, in lock down. All study remains online and virtual. In Guatemala, the scenario remains one of no light at the end of the tunnel. Our home is located in a comparatively safe neighborhood, where violence is minimal and residents follow COVID related protocol. In the midst of mass fear, uncertainty, disease and mortality, our home shelters our youths from the resulting concerns which would hinder their ability to maximize the opportunities we afford them, while allowing them to make the most of their potential and ability.
Carpentry Shop    
Only A Child recently closed its carpentry shop. The decision was reached after much deliberation by our Board of Directors. For much of its tenure, our shop was staffed by former residents of the street, who had come to us in search of stability and direction. With time, however, it became difficult to find candidates from the same source we had previously served, while maintaining the goals of our program. There are many youths living in impoverished rural areas, looking to improve their options by furthering their education. Lack of opportunity proved to be the major obstacle. Understanding the shift in the needs of the population we serve, Only A Child’s Board of Directors chose to realign our objectives and focus on providing opportunites for higher education to youths previously denied them. It is a commitment we stand behind; one that we believe will bring far-reaching benefits to the Only A Child youths and extend to the broader community.


Delinquency remains a major concern in Guatemala. Lack of access to quality education and then, as a consequence, the inability to find dignified and life-sustaining work fuel much of the problem – causing fundamentally solid young people to succumb to desperation by following paths they would normally avoid under preferable circumstances. This same desperation has fed the surge in migration gripping Northern Central America. The face of Guatemala’s migrant surge is youthful. According to the Washington Post, roughly 8% of 17 year olds in Central America’s Northern Triangle fled their homelands between 2011 and 2016. The percentage has likely grown, as the conditions compelling the exodus have continued to deteriorate in intervening years. Moreover, COVID-19 has served to further ravage Guatemala’s already hobbled economy. Recovery is likely to be years in the making. Higher education continues to offer the best opportunity to find viable employment. Our current residents come to us seeking to overcome the meager and restrictive expectations of what can be accomplished coming from the areas and the backgrounds they have known. They aspire to complete high school before moving on to ultimately graduate from university. Some have expressed interest in pursuing masters degrees. Such aspirations are rare, given their backgrounds. They are life changing. And in the case of our youths, they may ultimately prove to be community changing, as well.

  .pdf Links (below)

  Report on Educational Development

  Report on Employment In Guatemala

  Covid's Impact on Guatemalan Economy
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