As educators, improving the lives of students and how they relate to the world is an essential part of what we do. If you are an international teacher, life is usually stable and your school is well resourced and ready to go.
If you are from Guatemala with an unstable government, frequent violence and many other hurdles to your success, you might just want to give up what you are doing or not even try.
CNN Hero Juan Pablo, my guest today, took on those challenges and created a program that addressed the fundamental needs of students in his hometown. Listening to him overcome the obstacles he faced helped me to have perspective on what I saw as difficult in my world.
Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes was born in Jocotenango, Guatemala and started Los Patojos at the age of 21. As a self-taught educator and social entrepreneur, he grew Los Patojos from a small community program in his parent’s home to a community center, health clinic, and school educating over 300 children and providing jobs to 50 people daily.
In 2014, Juan Pablo was honored as a Top 10 CNN Hero for his unwavering commitment to create change in Guatemala and beyond. He’s currently working to open a new campus that provides a pipeline of workforce development opportunities for his students. Juan Pablo says his job is to create safe environments and build pathways to dignity and lifelong change for all Guatemalans.