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5 ways to support excluded youth in Guatemala

Local Peace Network in Guatemala on International Day of Peace
Photo: / AFSC

This list was created by Miriam Camas, Victoria Leonardo, and Javier Reyes from their workshop, "Peace Puzzle: How young people work towards peace within a violent context," at AFSC's 2017 Centennial summit. See this list and others from the summit online at afsc.org/5ways. Download this list as a PDF here.

  1. Learn about youth social exclusion 

In Guatemala, youth have the worst social indicators due to the lack of public policies aimed at providing opportunities for development and ending discrimination. Because of the stigma, a context of inequality and exclusion, lack of public health and public education, youth are a vulnerable population with limited access to fundamental rights. 

  • Spend some time learning from other communities: Learning about Guatemalan youth who live in urban settlements, suffering discrimination based on their age and residence and comparing that reality to others, can help us to understand youth in a global context.  
  • Search for testimonies: The Guatemala Local Peace Network program has published different stories, articles, and testimonies that can help to raise awareness within our peers and our community. 
  • Read:  
    • Dennis Martínez's doctoral thesis "Youth under the gun: violence, fear and resistance in urban Guatemala." 
    • National Human Development Report 2011/2012 “Guatemala: A country of opportunities for young people?” By United Nations Development Programme 
    • Hidden in plain sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children” from UNICEF 

2. Connect with the Guatemala Local Peace Network program 

To understand the struggle of being young in an urban settlement, it is important that you connect with the Guatemala Local Peace Network program and find out how you can support local efforts to empower youth and to build inclusive societies. 

  • Join the Guatemala Local peace network program and learn more about peace building work. 
  • Become the liaisonbetween your community and AFSC work in Guatemala, this can help us to promote youth citizen participation and peace building. 
  • Find out what youth-led organizations are doing and support their work. 
  • Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: www.facebook.com/afsclac and www.instagram.com/afsclac  
  1. Be part of action 

The Local Peace Network program focuses on promoting spaces for reflection and action among youthpromoting leadership and citizen participation, and learning about non-violent alternatives for conflicts. We also work against stigmatization and criminalization of young people. AFSC generates cooperation between neighbors, develops advocacy activities, recovery of public spaces, urban art festivals, and educational workshops. 

  • Help us to engage educatorthat want to promote human rights and peace building methodologies for young people from Guatemala 
  • Become a volunteer: Volunteer time to know the region and to participate in AFSC’s work in Guatemala.  You can develop trainings on Community art, mediation and conflict transformation, violence prevention, democracy and citizenship, among others. 
  • Help us strengthen the institutional framework for youth: Help us push our advocacy work to include key and strategic issues, fiscal policy for human development, security and justice, health and education, and poverty and inequality in the framework of a democratic society for youth. 
  1. Take economic action 

Youth in urban settlements have suffered discrimination based on their age and place of residence, impeding their citizen participation and limiting their access to education, employment and other fundamental rights. AFSC has helped to promote spaces for youth participation, strengthening their capacities and promoting their inclusion as active leaders in their communities to promote peace, providing them tools and resources that allow them to project themselves in a positive and assertive way. 

  • Support art festivals and community outreach activities that youth develop to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. 
  • Learn and contribute to training processes for youth. 
  • Organized youth cannot play their role properly because their budget allocation is meager and they have no instruments for mainstreaming a youth approach in public policies in a medium or long term. AFSC supports organized youth and you can help us. 
  1. Lift up youth exclusion concerns 

Once you know about unjust conditions of excluded youth in Guatemala, you can advocate for their rights and help to eliminate stigmatization and criminalization.  

  • Share information with key actors in your social network who can contribute to the cause. 
  • Support our raise awareness campaigns, share information on your social media, help us to engage our program globally and support our request to Guatemalan state to put youth and children development as a central focus for public policies. 

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