As Father’s Day has recently passed in both Guatemala and the United States, I would today like to focus on one father in particular who greets me with a smile every day that I come to work at Safe Passage; his name is Andres.

Andres is the father of two boys, ages 6 and 9. Growing up in Guatemala, he was unable to receive an education. His father wanted him to be able to study and work towards a brighter future. Read more.

However, his family did not have enough money to pay for school uniforms, supplies, and other items needed to go to school. After spending some time working in a garment factory just down the block from Safe Passage. He then began working for Safe Passage as a security guard at the front door and became acquainted with the Adult Literacy programs offered for mothers inside. Inspired, Andres then became part of the first group of fathers in the Adult Literacy program. Says Andres, “When I received the opportunity to study, I was very excited and jumped at the chance!”

Andres was a good student at Safe Passage, becoming the very fist adult male to graduate in 2009. Andres now ushers each student, young and old, inside the same building where he finally got his education. He can be found greeting all with a distinctive smile and joking around with visitors, all while ensuring that the individuals working and studying inside remain safe. But Andres, as the first father graduate, was only the beginning of something great.

Today, the fathers of Safe Passage have their very own Men’s Literacy program within which they can study. Working hard and making sacrifices to pursue their dreams, they often wake up before dawn to get to work, spend all day under the tropical sun breathing toxic fumes, and then arrive home in the late afternoon, exhausted and aching. Instead of spending the evening attempting to relax at home, they choose to go to school. They have a variety of educational levels and interests, but they share a commitment to the belief that, despite all the challenges that confront them and their families on a daily basis, there is hope for a better future — whether it be through a Tercero Básico (9th grade) degree, a technical school diploma and well-paid job, their own business, or a house for their family — and a positive and successful legacy to pass on to their children.

We all want something better for our children, and these fathers are overcoming many obstacles to make that dream a reality. Four fathers graduated from 6th grade last year, and five are studying this year in Primero Básico (7th grade). In 2010, two fathers took part in the pilot program for Safe Passage's Family Nurturing Program, taking a step farther in learning to improve their parenting skills. These are men who believe in a better future and in fighting to achieve it become incredible role models for their children. Despite all of their past struggles, the future does indeed look bright for Andres and the many fathers of Safe Passage.

–Gabriel Tobias and Owen Griffith