"Always think about the future. Vaya por mas. Go for more.”
Luis Ángel grew up in a tough neighborhood in Guatemala City with his parents, older brother, and younger sister. Luis said they lived in a place of poverty, but he always tried to see the positive in it.
“It was poor but dignified,” Luis said. Luis spent his childhood living in Nicaragua, where his mother was from, and Guatemala, the home of his father. His parents separated and the situation was very challenging.
As a boy, Luis often got into trouble with other kids in his neighborhood. Reflecting now as a young man, Luis Angel believes life would be very different if his mother hadn’t brought him to Esperanza Juvenil, Boys Hope Girls Hope Guatemala, at age 10. Without it, Luis says he would likely be in a gang like many of the youth with whom he grew up. Luis’s mother always taught him and his siblings to “dream big,” even if they didn’t have many resources. Luis says he always envisioned “achieving a lot,” and Esperanza Juvenil allowed him to do it.
Luis said he greatly benefited from the access to a great education at Esperanza Juvenil and to the structure of residential life. He learned to wake up at 5 a.m., clean the house with the other boys, and help to prepare the meals. Luis said that, to this day, he likes to be disciplined, and create order and structure to thrive. Luis’s advice for the younger scholars at Esperanza Juvenil is to “sacrifice for your family and the family you want to construct. Always think about the future. Vaya por mas. Go for more.”
Looking ahead, Luis will soon graduate as a lawyer from Landivar University, a Jesuit university in Guatemala. As is typical in Guatemala, Luis worked in law firms throughout his college education to gain experience in his field and cover part of his educational costs. He is drawn to business law but also wants to give back by serving on the board of an organization like Esperanza Juvenil.
Overall, Luis is especially grateful for his education and career at a time that COVID-19 has struck Guatemala and the economy very hard. He knows many people who go out every day to see how they can make some money to eat. “I could have been them,” Luis said, “because of the conditions in which I grew up.” Luis stays in touch with friends and neighbors from his old neighborhood and is now able to help them when they need legal advice. “It’s important to have your feet on the ground about where you come from and be proud of who you are.”
Photos: 1) Luis recently; 2) Luis when he joined Esperanza Juvenil at age 10; 3) Luis with his mother; 4) Luis representing his university with fellow students in Paraguay at an international commercial arbitration conference.