“Never consider education an obligation, rather an opportunity to penetrate the beautiful and wonderful world of knowing. You can cross mountains, oceans, overcome tragedies, difficulties and responsibilities with just one thing: confidence in yourself.” —2015 Safe Passage graduation reading

Graduation marks an important shift in education for many students, and most especially for Safe Passage students.

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Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and nearly 25% of the country’s population is illiterate. Quality education opportunities are limited and much-needed in Guatemala city and Safe Passage strives to meet that need with our holistic education programs. Since 2007, Safe Passage has celebrated more than 110 high school graduates. 2015 marked our largest graduating class yet: 30 students received their diplomas!

Of our 30 graduates in 2015:

  • 2 graduated with honors
  • 7 received scholarships from BCIE (Banco Centroamerico de Integracion Economica)
  • 22 have been Safe Passage students for 10-13 years

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For these students, opportunities beyond graduation are now within reach thanks to our Próximo Paso (Next Step) program. From resume writing to job searching, internships and work experience, Próximo Paso guides graduates through the often-daunting process of searching for jobs and applying to university.

Alliances with local companies including Allied Global and CEMACO provide job experience and training in effective job searches. Companies including Lombard, Transurbano, PepsiCo and Hotel Barceló hired our graduates as interns–and each student earned good performance reviews.

For the majority of our graduates, securing a job and earning income is critical for them to pursue continued education after graduation. Próximo Paso is an integral part of our comprehensive program.

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While the majority of our students are between the ages of 2 and 21, we believe that learning happens at every age. We support this belief with our Adult Literacy program which has met the educational needs of 496 parents and grandparents since 2006. In 2015 we also celebrated 11 Adult Literacy Program graduates including 5 mothers and 1 father.

“Perhaps the moment I enjoyed most was walking in to everyone cheering. There were friends I used to study with and neighbors, women from the community. I felt proud that everyone saw what I had accomplished and I hope it was inspiring to them to keep working and studying so that they can graduate, too.” —Maira, 2015 diversificado graduate and Safe Passage mother

We asked our Adult Literacy Program Coordinator, Lorena, what her favorite part of the 2015 Adult Literacy graduation was and she said, “One of the situations that always pleases me and never fails to surprise me is the triumphant entrance that Adult Literacy students make, with the pride of having achieved one of their dreams, which truly takes so much effort. What is more, their children feel the pride of knowing that their mother or father is in front, in a graduation robe—for us this is very symbolic as it represents the culmination of their studies. It is something that gives them a lot of confidence and raises their self-esteem.”

As one of our 2015 graduates remarked, “I just want to say thank you to all of the people at Safe Passage. None of this would be happening right now if it wasn’t for you.”

You can view additional graduation photos on our Facebook page.