Rebuilding young lives in Latin America

Since receiving £63,075.14 from an offering taken at United 2017, our work at Nicodemus has continued to grow and expand reaching more young people.

Based on our three key aims of Rescuing, Restoring, and Rebuilding the lives of the most at-risk young people, we have seen God’s hand at work healing young people from the depths of street life and bringing them into trusting relationships with trained mentors.

In partnership with a street youth project, a residential home for teenage girls and a school for children from families working at the town rubbish dump, our Youth Mentoring Programme is now helping 120 young people in Guatemala as they transition out of these projects and navigate towards a healthy transition into adult society. As well as support from a mentor, these young people are provided an education, are taught key life values, and when applicable they are invited to apply to enrol on our Youth Mentoring course to be trained up as a mentor. During 2021, these young people through their volunteering in their churches and communities together achieved a reach to 2,228 at-risk children and youth per month.

Our coordinated Youth Mentoring Programme in Guatemala has informed the next phase of our work. In 2018 we started developing Community Connect partnerships with churches and other projects in Guatemala, training and equipping youth leaders and volunteers as mentors of at-risk young people in their own churches and communities. With our 15 church and project partners in Guatemala, those of whom are together providing mentoring for 285 young people, we provide personalised training and one-to-one consultation meetings. Our partners are supported to create and implement their own mentoring programmes so they can reach the most marginalised and alone young people in their projects and communities. Our four training courses we offer are: Youth Mentoring and Life Coaching, Youth in Transition, Counselling for At-Risk Youth, and Developing a Youth Mentoring Programme.

We believe that dedicated and intentional relationships between mature, Christian mentors and at-risk young people provide safe spaces in which these young people can learn, grow, mature, and thrive. Our partners provide a place for at-risk young people to not only professionalise and grow personally, but also to learn to form trusting relationships and to socialise among their peers and supportive adults. Our partners walk with and orientate their young people as they develop aspirations, a sense of stability and, in turn, as they become the leaders and mentors of tomorrow.

The experience of running our Youth Mentoring Programme and Guatemala Community Connect partnership programme has helped inform the start-up of our Online Training Platform and virtual partnerships into other Latin American countries. In 2021 a group of 20 people from a group of Anglican churches in Chile were trained and certified in Youth Mentoring and Life Coaching so that they can mentor youth in a children’s residential home. At the end of last year we gave an intensive course, Developing a Youth Mentoring Programme, at the Latin American Orphan Summit organised by CAFO. 186 people from across 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean attended. This has widened our database of contacts and increased potential opportunity. This year with a group of staff and volunteers of a residential home for youth in transition to adulthood in Cuzco, Peru, we are starting to train them in Youth Mentoring and Life Coaching.

Once again, Nicodemus thank those of you who gave to the offering at United 2017. We are thankful to God as we look back over the years and see lives changed as passionate people have been trained up as mentors and have then gone on to significantly impact at-risk and vulnerable young people in Guatemala and other Latin American countries.

Watch a thank you video from Nicodemus and Cristian’s story.

Jonathan Welford is Latin America Director at Nicodemus.