Alejandro,* a teen at Casa de Esperanza, doesn’t have trouble setting his sights high. His eyes are on the president.  

But not becoming the president – protecting him. When Alejandro, 18, sat down with a social worker to discuss his life desires, he recounted his dream to become a police officer. 

I want to apprehend the bad guys, defend my country, and even someday get to protect the president.” He expressed his reasoning with conviction and clarity.  

Alejandro celebrated his 18th birthday at Casa de Esperanza, Guatemala, where he lives. Like all young adults in the community, Alejandro has spent the past year working with professional staff to develop a Life Project that lays out – or, perhaps discovers – his dreams and ambitions for the future.   

We know no two people are the same. That knowledge reflects our core value of pursuing the best interest of each child, and it extends to future planning. A social worker helps guide the teens in developing goals and identifying concrete ways to move toward them, but the young adults ultimately are the ones forging their paths. Crafted to reflect each person’s strengths and challenges, the projects are like the blueprints and scaffolding to pursuing their own successful futures.  

Part of a staff member’s role, though, is knowing what kind of support each person needs. Due to Alejandro’s late arrival at Casa de Esperanza as well as his cognitive disability, he faces some additional challenges in realizing his dreams. Alejandro is currently working through the eighth grade, so he still has several years of schooling to go. But that isn’t stopping him from taking a step toward another future goal – one that exchanges a uniform for an apron. 

As Alejandro continues his formal studies, community staff will also be seeking out a local center where he can pursue vocational training in baking. The professional team will enroll him in a course and ensure that he faithfully attends.  

Just like so many parents around the world, community staff teams encourage young people to follow their loftiest dreams while also preparing them for life with more practical skills. This way, young adults like Alejandro are equipped with skills to get them through difficult times while still pursuing their dreams with conviction. It’s like a safety valve, or a plan B. 

Despite Alejandro’s challenges, he has a noble heart and a concern for the well-being of others. He is kind, friendly, imaginative, and fun-loving. 

Each step of Alejandro’s Life Project is designed to support his own goals, but behind the “project,” is a person – and he’s on a path to thriving and success, fit just for him.