It all started with a trip to Guatemala after graduating from college in early 2011. Like many, I still had no idea what I wanted to be, even after choosing a course of study. So I decided to travel. I spent four weeks in Guatemala and met so many incredible people. I was amazed at how people with so little could be so incredibly happy. Images of children playing soccer with tin cans for balls changed me. And somewhere in the middle of Lake Atitlan while crossing in boat, I decided to move to Guatemala. I returned to the United States only to pack my bags and bid farewell. And so I found Guatemala.
While teaching in Guatemala, I spent my weekends exploring. By chance one day I stumbled upon a children's home nestled on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Hogar Miguel Magone is home to about 100 abandoned or neglected children. I often refer to it as an orphanage to save time in conversations, but most of these children do in fact have parents. Most of the little ones here have been severely neglected, and have either been removed from their circumstances by the state or have been abandoned all together. On my first visit to the home, I fought back tears as a little boy showed me scars and nonchalantly explained they were cigarette burns. I imagine they wish they could be referred to as orphans… after all, which is worse?
Overtime, I grew closer and closer to the home, learning more and more about the daily ins and outs. With every visit during my 5 years in Guatemala, I recognized more faces and stories, and the children in turn began to recognize me. I was told the story of the home’s beginnings and how each building in the home had come to be. Turns out, although the state brought most of the children to the home, the government has never provided any funding for these children, and everything has been done through donations in the private sector. Spear heading the efforts to keep this home running are the founders, Karen and Estuardo.
This couple has dedicated their entire lives to these children. What started as a few children seeking shelter in their home has turned in to an organization that helps hundreds. Not only do they provide for the 100 or so living full time at the home, they also provide daily meals and school supplies for over 100 more who live in the surrounding region. Spend an hour in this home, and count how many times you hear a child’s voice say “Mama Karen” or "Papa Estu", and you will have an idea of the impact they have made on their lives. They are the ones who receive the children, accompany them to doctor’s visits to document and heal wounds of neglect, fight next to them in the courts of Guatemala, rebuild their sense of self-worth, send them to school, and bring smiles back to their faces.
And so I thought to myself, with such a strong foundation, the sky is the limit for this home. If they already have the dedication and love, we could achieve anything together. So, I set out to share their story by bringing groups to Guatemala. The first group of 18 people came to visit in January of 2016. They brought with them countless donations of shoes, uniforms, and more. We spent hours helping at the home and spending time with the children. We also ventured out to surrounding areas to explore Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Seeing the foreigners interact with these children was incredible. When the group returned home, the word began to spread, and before I knew it, another group was interested. Support poured in from miles around.
In 2016, I returned to the United States with the intention of forming a non-profit. And, in 2018 we officially founded the organization, choosing the name Infinite Chance. We received our 501(c)(3) status in early 2019.
With a strong support system on the ground in Guatemala, our goal is to provide the means for each child to attend school every year. Their ticket out of poverty is education. With big dreams for the future of building a trade school for Hogar Miguel Magone and surrounding villages, we will embark on any project that creates long term opportunities for these children.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about us. If you are interested in traveling to Guatemala, please email me personally. I would love to show you what changed the course of my life, and show you how you too can provide an Infinite Chance to a child in need.