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Rescuing public spaces in Guatemala City

Women with shovels
Neighbors gather to restore a park in Guatemala City. Photo: AFSC
People gather by park
Neighbors gather to clean up public space. Photo: AFSC

In the township of "La Paz" in an area of Guatemala City bordering on a landfill, a network of young people called "Young Leaders Peace Builders" is working to promote peaceful relations.

They started with a community assessment and found that the people in their community were in crisis. Relations between neighbors had deteriorated due to personal and community conflicts, and the delinquency rate was increasing day by day.

The young people decided to analyze the problem areas and identify a strategy to strengthen coexistence and community identity. From the testimony of Don Julio, a local resident, they identified that a public area was being used to store garbage, making it difficult for people and vehicles to travel through the area.

The network called a meeting with local leaders to discuss the issue and find a solution that would allow the recovery of the space.

As a result, a project plan was drafted to convert the damaged area to a public space, with the help of neighbors and with funding for materials (cement, paint, etc.) from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

The neighbors got together with the young people in the network to organize and delegate responsibilities. The majority of participants were women who, for one month, dedicated two hours daily to the construction of the area.

What used to be an illegal dump is now an area where neighbors gather to talk, children have a space to play, and local leaders have organized meetings and workshops.

As planned, the park has become a link between neighbors, promoting the peaceful coexistence of children and adults, not only in the neighborhood of La Paz, but also in the surrounding townships. Yet the most important link was the collaboration of the youth network and the neighbors to build this park.