Waking up as the sun crests over the Guatemala Horizon, Jelbin climbs out of bed, gets dressed and laces up his shoes. He’s starting his day today as usual: running laps around Casa de Esperanza. Not because he dreams of becoming a star athlete, but because this is who Jelbin is: motivated and consistent.


The 19-year old lives in the Guatemalan micro-community with the Patzan-Cotzojay family. Presently, Jelbin’s set to graduate high school this fall, and is in the process of applying to universities. He hopes to become a lawyer, and moving toward this goal was the subject of Jelbin’s Life Project. Working with a social worker, Jelbin identified elements of his character, learned about himself, and then identified paths to his future utilizing his unique gifts and passions. This process confirmed Jelbin’s desire to become a lawyer:

“I continue to want to become a lawyer. Because of the way that I am, I’m very…how should I explain it? I like to try to be fair and I like to argue. I feel like this career really fits with my strengths and personality.”

Jelbin attends a local Montessori bilingual school where he learns in English and Spanish, and he does it with excellence: he even received an academic silver medal for having the second-highest GPA for the most recent marking period. Staff at Casa de Esperanza offer support to children in school, but say Jelbin is extremely responsible to complete his assigned work on his own. Still, it is a comfort to know even for high-achieving students like Jelbin, help is ready and waiting should he need it. When it came to his Life Project, Jelbin says he was grateful for the guidance he received:


“The process was very comprehensive and really makes you think about your goals. The social worker did a good job of guiding me through the process,” he said. “I have also received support with my studies and university application process.”


It’s easy to look at Jelbin’s life and see the successes and achievements. But knowing Jelbin’s life story, with all it’s challenges that ultimately lead him to Horizon, makes his strides in life even bigger accomplishments. “I have many challenges in my life, but thank God, I have not had many struggles with my academics,” he says. “The process of professional development has been smooth.”


For now, Jelbin’s got his sights set on a law degree. But that’s not all he’s got going on.

“Despite a physical limitation with his left arm, Jelbin enjoys MMA and boxing,” shares Jeff Luehm, a Horizon program coordinator in Latin America. “That is the perfect example of Jelbin: he’s driven and does not let obstacles stand in the way of his aspirations.”