GUATEMALA CITY – Efforts must be made in Guatemala, one of the world’s most violent countries, to nurture the young people growing up in slums, American Friends Service Committee, or AFSC, regional director Fabiola Flores said in an interview with EFE.
The “red zones” in Guatemala, a country with an average of 16 murders a day, “are full of young people with yearnings, aspirations and struggles,” Flores said, adding that “they are the country’s great future, the hope for a better tomorrow.”
“They are young, they are Guatemalans, they need a chance to become agents for change,” Flores said.
The AFSC seeks “to build peace-opening spaces for reflection and action,” Flores said.
Children and teens growing up on the dangerous outskirts of Guatemala City need to be shown that the challenges they face are not necessarily negative factors but could be opportunities for improvement.
“This is a long and arduous path. These are progressive processes because, obviously, the problems these young people confront are multiple,” Flores said.
The AFSC chose to focus its efforts on Central America, where figures show that young people are the population segment most vulnerable to violence, and the work is being done via “peace micro-platforms.”
The goal is to “make young people the actors and builders of all the process of change,” beginning with a personal transformation leading to cultural development, Flores said. “It is a method requiring many years.”
“We are committed to staying by their side for as long as we can,” Flores said.
The project, with a staff of 250 people, has been working in Guatemala for nine years.