For Humberto Aguiral, going to work as a construction manager overseeing the expansion of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Guatemala – Esperanza Juvenil, brings forth a mix of feelings: pride, nostalgia, and reverence.
“When I entered Esperanza Juvenil, I had no idea of the impact it was going to have on my life.”
As an alum of Esperanza Juvenil, Humberto joined the program as a first grader. Now, years later, it’s his job to make sure their classroom facilities are updated, expanded, and ready for the next generation of scholars.
Humberto grew up in Zone 6 of Guatemala City with his mom and two sisters. Zone 6 was, and still is, known as a dangerous and impoverished area. Under these conditions, prospects for success were uncertain for Humberto and his family.
Then, when he was only five years old, Humberto lost his father. His mom, in her grief and bereavement, was left with sole responsibility for raising her three children. Even under optimal conditions, such a shock and stress would be crushing for anyone.
Humberto as a young boy. Photo by Kristin Ostby
“I had no idea of the impact it was going to have on my life”
That same year, Humberto’s mom learned of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Guatemala – Esperanza Juvenil (EJ). A local priest told them about the program and how it could offer a measure of relief by providing a quality education for free, a safe and nurturing environment for the children to learn and grow, and to carry some of their mother’s burden.
Taking a chance, Humberto’s mom enrolled him in Esperanza Juvenil as a first grader. His younger sister joined, too.
“When I entered Esperanza Juvenil, I had no idea of the impact it was going to have on my life,” says Humberto.
Humberto, second from the left, is seen here with fellow scholars from Esperanza Juvenil.
“Living together for so long, we became a family.”
Humberto enjoyed his time in Esperanza Juvenil, especially forging bonds with his fellow scholars.
“I think the main memory I have as an EJ student was the camaraderie that kept us together,” he says, “The best part of the day was coming back from studying to spend time with the other students. Living together for so long, we became a family.” His favorite moments as a scholar were sitting around the table to eat and talk about what had happened during the day with his fellow scholars.
Almost 25 years later, Humberto is now a construction manager in Guatemala City. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling to new places in his home country.
“I also try to have time to myself, to read and listen to music,” says Humberto.
Humberto graduated from Esperanza Juvenil’s high school when he was 17. He then entered university for a degree in engineering with the continued support of Esperanza Juvenil and its partners.
HELPING TO DEVELOP GUATEMALA
As a hardworking student, Humberto earned a full-ride scholarship from a local construction company, AICSA Group, and little did either know this would one day become his place of employment. The president of AICSA Group, Ernesto ‘Neto’ Ruiz, serves on the board of Esperanza Juvenil. When Humberto completed his degree and AICSA offered him a full-time job, the choice was easy.
“I love my job,” says Humberto. “Thanks to Esperanza Juvenil, many of us graduates are working professionals, and we collaborate and contribute to the development of Guatemala.”
The construction project Humberto oversees was donated by AICSA Group and will add six new classrooms, for a total of nine. Esperanza Juvenil will add dedicated facilities for science studies, mathematics, English, language studies, literature, and a computer lab. It will also set the stage for their growth and allow more space for Esperanza Juvenil to receive up to 25 scholars per grade level.
Martin Totland is the Media and Communications Coordinator for Boys Hope Girls Hope.
“With the new classrooms, we hope to give more children the opportunity to study,” Humberto says. “I am happy to be able to put in my grain of sand for Esperanza Juvenil with the new construction. When I have the opportunity to help others, I don’t hesitate to do so.”
Reflecting on his success, how far he has come, and what it can mean for young scholars in Esperanza Juvenil, Humberto offers this:
“My advice is to be persistent; each little step is a steppingstone to reach the goal of graduating from college. You may see the road ahead as far or difficult, but the time will come when you achieve your goal. I encourage you to continue with the determination you have today.”