Meet Our New Partner in Guatemala, Luis Marroquin

We are very excited to share with you the story of Mi Especial Tesoro (My Special Treasure) School in Guatemala through an interview with the Director Luis Marroquín.

Tells us a little bit about you and your family?

My name is Luis Estuardo Marroquin, and I am from Chimaltenango, a city west of Guatemala City.  Together with my wife, Vanessa, we are directors of Mi Especial Tesoro. We have been happily married for 9 years and we have two beautiful boys; Jared who is 7 years old and Emilio who is 4 years old.  At the moment, I am studying to become a teacher with a focus on Christian education. My wife has a degree in Administrative Education and a Master’s in education.

How and when did the ministry and the school start?

The ministry was founded by my in-laws in 2011, when they were called as a family to move from Guatemala City to Chimaltenango to open a home for abandoned girls.  One thing my in-laws wanted to do differently was teach the girls in the home to serve others and break the idea of only receiving help and not giving to others.  To make this possible they started to meet with some women at the garbage dump. They taught them how to read and write and had a time of fellowship with their children. My wife and my mother-in-law worked with the mothers and also with their kids, teaching them how to read and paint. In 2012, when the women were not able to continue with the lessons, my in-laws decided to continue working with the children. Every Saturday they had a worship time, and they helped them with math and language and gave them a snack. It was at that time that I met my wife and while dating I got involved in this ministry. After working with the kids for some months, they realized that there was a need for them to have a more formal education. That is when the dream to open a school started.  In 2013, as a step of faith they decided that they were going to start a school with 45 students, but still were short of the necessary number of desks, teachers, back packs, school supplies, or even a proper place to meet.  With the help from a British organization, they were able to buy some desks, find a place and hire teachers.  That was the start of Mi Especial Tesoro School.

How did you get involved in the school?

In 2013, my wife and I were working in another school in Chimaltenango and serving part time in the ministry. In 2014, we felt God’s call to serve full time in the school as directors. This was a big step of faith for us, with a little 6-month-old baby, not knowing what salary we were going to have, and venturing into the unknown. We came from a school where parents were very involved in their kid’s education and had good resources and now, we were to transition into a more challenging environment where kids didn’t have anything. For the first two years we received support from a school in Chimaltenango giving us the permit to run the school while the ministry of education was processing our registration. In the first year we had 105 students. We started with kindergarten and primary levels. Right now, we have the permit for kindergarten, primary and high school.  Every year we have grown, and as of today, we have 330 students in total. Last year we had our first graduates: 14 students, able to continue with their college education. God has been good to us.  In 2019 we started with trade courses. The girls were able to be trained in baking and the boys in mechanics.  We had to make some changes to this course due to the pandemic. Instead of baking, the girls are doing a program in cooking, receiving lessons through videos. And the boys are receiving training in carpentry via videos as well. This year we had four students starting their university studies.

In all these years working with our kids we have seen that many times all our kids need is a hug and us telling them that Jesus loves them”. – Luis Marroquín.  

 

What challenges do children and their families face?

The main challenges children and their families face in this community are: family disintegration, alcoholism, violence, unemployment, health problems, gangs, and extreme poverty.

How are CCI and the school impacting the community?

CCI and the school are helping families change their lives by providing faith-based education and nutrition. With education, youths can find better jobs, learn new skills, and most importantly they experience the love of Jesus in a daily and tangible way.  CCI and the school are giving the tools to the children to become better citizens who will make a difference and will break the poverty circle in their families and the community.

What are your plans and projects for the future?

I grew up in church and I knew ministry from the point of view of the church. But when I met my wife and her parents God allowed me to see the bigger picture of what ministry is all about: helping those in need”.  – Luis Marroquín.