Kareen Gudiel had a son, Kenneth, born with autism, and she found limited support to help her and her family. So she fasted, prayed, and God led her on an unexpected journey. In 2012 she formed Autismo Guatemala (AGUA) to work with others who faced similar challenges. AGUA estimates that 1.53% of Guatemalans under 17 have this condition. Today AGUA serves 24 boys and girls from 1 to 23 years old in on-site programs and over 100 in total ministry efforts.
Kareen started the organization in her home, and today it meets in a dedicated space filled with love and skilled staff. Ereny Monir, Global Trainer and VP of Training & Empowerment for GTP experienced this and said this after visiting AGUA, “I was particularly touched by the love of those who served the younger children one on one. I could see that love from the staff met deep needs that each child had.”
At the beginning AGUA was understaffed and limped along until 2016 when she met Edgar Güitz of Generation to Generation Network (G2G). This was another answer to prayer for Kareen. G2G does spiritual and strategic work to raise up the next generation of nonprofit administrators and help them build capacity to serve the growing underserved populations in Guatemala. Their impact touches more than 25 ministries like AGUA.
One of the leading influences to the work of G2G has been teaching from Gary G. Hoag, President & CEO of GTP. Edgar introduced Gary to Kareen in 2018 at a conference. Since that time, both Edgar and Gary have helped Kareen.
She tells the story this way. “Before working with Edgar and meeting Gary, Autismo Guatemala was really struggling. The spiritual and strategic help AGUA has received has come in three areas: board governance, organizational administration, and communications to engage local support. While we have a lot to do to fulfill our dreams, we have gone from struggling to a place of stability and we have confidence, peace, and hope.”
AGUA has a budget of about $100,000 (US) and receives 45% from parent fees and raises the other 55% or about $55,000 (US). Last year, about $45,000 (US) of that (80%) came from Guatemala. AGUA, with help from G2G and GTP, envisions what Kareen describes as “a future of flourishing” thanks to the faithfulness of God and teaching and encouragement which has helped AGUA get their organizational house in order and grow local giving.
GTP recently sponsored a Journey of Empowerment (JOE) weekend retreat in Guatemala with G2G and Kareen was among the participants served by the training and networking. She found JOE quite enriching and plans to share it with her staff and constituents. The event reflects the shared vision of Gary and Edgar to build up local leaders who multiply their effectiveness, in part through teaching them to be people of fasting, confession, and prayer, so God works mightily through them.
Edgar was a part of the first International Accountability Summit sponsored by ECFA in 2015, and he serves on the founding board of CONFIABLE. CONFIABLE is an acronym that stands for “Concilio de Organizaciones No-lucrativas, Financieramente Integras, Auditables, Bíblica y Legalmente Establecidas” or “Council of Non-profit Organizations, Financially Integrated, Auditable, Biblically and Legally Established.”
CONFIABLE means “trustworthy.” CONFIABLE is the peer accountability group that has been established for Guatemala by a group of committed servants rooted in a desire to help ministries build trust and grow local giving despite a history of corruption in the country.
Edgar concludes, “I am so thankful for GTP. It’s a privilege and blessing to collaborate with GTP to form faithful stewards, to teach people about accountability, and to help ministries increase their capacity in Guatemala. We do all this with GTP with the common purpose of building trust and growing local giving for God’s work.”