Facts & Figures
Asociacion La Alianza Guatemala
Year Established: 2009
National Director: Carolina Escobar Sarti
Casa Alianza Guatemala was founded in Guatemala City in 1981, the first of our Covenant House sites to be established in Latin America. We opened our doors to respond to the need for housing and protection for the thousands of Guatemalan children left homeless and abandoned during the years of repression and war and civil strife that marked this dark phase of Guatemalan history.
Casa Alianza Guatemala was forced to close in January of 2009 when funding became inadequate to support our program. However in the fall of 2009, with funding from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking of the US State Department, we were able to open a new organization, Asociacion La Alianza, that is now a safe house for girls between the ages of 12-18 who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
La Alianza employs a model of care that has become nationally and internationally recognized as not only a safe haven where homeless children and teens can reclaim their lives, but also a widely respected voice and force in the fight to protect and defend the rights of children in Guatemala.
- From 2008-2009 a child was abandoned every 4 days in Guatemala City; most were babies.1
- An estimated 8,000 children live on the streets of Guatemala2 and are often perceived as 'delinquents' and as 'disposable', with police beatings a common phenomena3
- The gangs (Maras) often use homeless children and at-risk youth for recruitment and to carry out jobs for them.4
- Guatemala currently has the highest rate of child malnourishment in Latin America and the 6th highest level worldwide5
- 657,223 boys and girls do not have a primary education6
- An average of 46 boys and girls are killed violently every month on the streets of Guatemala.7
- Thus far in 2011, 106 killings of children and teenagers have been registered, 29 of these are girls between the ages of 12 and 15
- In the 2010, there were 47,559 registered pregnancies of girls between 10 and 19 years of age
– 5,300 of these were under 14 years of age
– 60% of the moms have no formal education qualifications8
(Carolina Escobar Sarti has been the National Director of La Alianza since August of 2010. She is a Guatemalan columnist, writer and poet who is highly respected and recognized nationally and internationally as an expert on youth and an avid protector of children's rights. )
Gabriela Mistral, one of Chile's great poets, said that "the future of every child is today." We strive to make her words a reality in all of the work we do. And this belief is why we opened our doors in Guatemala for a second time–to care for trafficked girls and teenage moms and to give them the possibility of a new future–today.
My name is Carolina Escobar Sarti, and I have been the National Director of Asociacion La Alianza
in Guatemala since our opening over a year ago. For 28 years before I came, homeless, abused, and abandoned boys and girls and teens found refuge at Casa Alianza Guatemala which had to close its doors in early 2009 because of lack of funding. However, later that year a new organization was born–La Alianza–which now cares for trafficked girls and teenage moms and their babies. We share the same mission and values as every Casa Alianza in Latin America and every site in the United States and Canada–united by a deep commitment to support and care for children and teens in need.
Despite the fact that Guatemala has many of the laws necessary to protect children's human rights, we have to recognize that there are terrible holes in our child protection system that have resulted in a generation of forgotten, abandoned, and neglected youth where 50% of children under 5 years of age are malnourished. There are many reasons for this, including a culture that tolerates slavery, discrimination and violence, a weak judicial system, the trafficking of drugs and humans, organized crime, impunity, and very poor government social services. A context such as this makes the prevention and punishment of human trafficking an extremely difficult task.
The strength to do what we do at La Alianza
comes from the team of people who work at La Alianza
and who, every day, offer unbelievable dedication and commitment to the girls we serve. As a result, we have come a long way in a short time. We have cared for over 30 girls and their babies since our first resident arrived in March of this year. We have formed partnerships with civil society organizations and governmental ministries, have trained over more than 6,000 public officials and Guatemalan citizens so that they can work for the prevention of human trafficking, and have formed a legal services team that is working actively on several cases in the courts. Our work is multifaceted but our goal is one: to touch the lives of the girls we care for, to restore their hope and dignity, and to provide them with the tools they need to build today–a new tomorrow. It is a task we are honored to share with all of you. Thank you so much for your interest in our work and your concern for the children of Guatemala.
Carolina Escobar Sarti
Asociacion La Alianza Guatemala
Programs Unique to La Alianza Guatemala:
Residential Care for the Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking and Those at High Risk of Being Trafficked (Girls Only)
Located in Guatemala City, the residential center of La Alianza Guatemala was inaugurated in January 2011 and admitted its first resident in March 2011—a 12-year-old girl who was eight months pregnant as a result of sexual abuse.
All of the residents at the crisis care residential center of La Alianza Guatemala are victims of sexual abuse, exploitation and/or human trafficking and most have been referred to us by government officials including judges, police, and government ministry personnel. Our residence is the only 24 hour shelter of its kind in Guatemala dedicated to trafficked and exploited girls and plays a vital role in modeling the kind of comprehensive services that are necessary to meet the physical and emotional needs of these victims.
Anti-Trafficking Awareness and Education
The first phase of La Alianza's work, after opening in the fall of 2009, was to launch an anti-trafficking awareness and education program. Since that time our Public Education Team has trained over 6,000 citizens, including teachers, community leaders, parents, children and teens. In addition, more than 1,000 members of the National Police have been trained in the Guatemalan anti-trafficking law and how to enforce it. On September 29, 2011, the closing ceremony of the police training was held a the Peace Palace of Guatemala where La Alianza Guatemala
was honored for their work.
will expand training to new parts of the country and establish an online training course for Judges on anti-trafficking.
The work of our team includes legal support to girls who are victims of human trafficking and other violations of their human rights, ensuring support and monitoring of cases throughout all judicial processes and preparing them to be witnesses when necessary in cases against traffickers.
The advocacy work carried out by La Alianza Guatemala includes extensive work with the media, awareness and education campaigns, and coordinating with other organizations to prevent trafficking of children and protect the human rights of children in Guatemala.
- National Director Carolina Escobar Sarti is a nationally known journalist and has written frequently for the national press on issues concerning human rights
- La Alianza is the only NGO in Guatemala invited to join the Central American Parliament Roundtable focusing on violence in the Central America region
- La Alianza has received invitations from human rights organizations in Spain, New York, and Honduras to present on issues of violence, human rights and trafficking
- La Alianza was responsible for organizing a historic meeting between the Guatemalan Attorney General and the entire National Coalition Against Trafficking. This has led to collaboration with her office on specific trafficking cases
- On September 29, 2011 La Alianza Guatemala celebrated the anti-trafficking training of over 1000 members of the National Police. A special ceremony was held in the historic Peace Courtyard of the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala, where La Alianza was awarded the "Hands of Peace" award by the Secretariat of Peace of the Office of the President.
2 Alba Trejo, http://www.la-alianza.org/index.php/contexto
3 Jill Marie Gerschutz, ‘El Estado de la Niñez en Guatenala’ cited in Simon Walters, ‘Social Cleansing in Guatemala, Stigmatization and Execution in the Name of Security’
4 Ibid, Simon Walters, Social Cleansing in Guatemala
6 Cited from La Alianza Guatemala, Cifras Ninez, http://www.la-alianza.org/index.php/cifras-ninez
7 The Street Children’s Consortium, Statisics, http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/_uploads/resources/Street_Children_Stats_FINAL.pdf
11 Information provided by La Aianza Guatemala
12 Annual Report
13 Annual Report
14 Information provided by La Alianza Guatemala