Meet our Community Hero: Emanuel Alvarez

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Tell us about yourself: 

“My name is Emanuel and my wife and I are serving and running nonprofit organizations for women and children with needs, escaping domestic violence or homelessness in Guatemala. It all started when we made the decision to adopt our five children and saw all the pain and suffering the kids go through and broken families in foster care. Soon after the adoptions, I started volunteering as a guardian ad litem in Indiana. We then moved to Florida to be with my parents for some time and while living there my wife and I just felt this calling to come to Guatemala and open a home for children with special needs. I was working at Disney at the time, so I quit my job and moved back to Indiana to get our finances straight in order to do this. Fast-forward to two years and a half later, we were on the plane on our way to Guatemala to make this happen.”

How did your non-profit organization get started in Guatemala?

emanuel group shot

My wife and I began working with Hope for Home, and I am now the field director for the ministry. In the early days, it was an advocacy ministry that shared the needs of these children with the church and sought to pair Christian families with children through adoption and leading short-term ministry trips to Guatemala. They have now established a rural village ministry that provides assistance to children with special needs. Currently, Hope for Home is working to open a home for adults with special needs in Guatemala and its rural village ministry will soon expand into 14 of Guatemala’s 22 departments, with long-term plans to establish a ministry in every department. 

What does your day-to-day look like?

“I keep a calendar but most days don’t end up looking like I planned, since I’m all over the place making sure everything is running smoothly. We have workers over from 7am to 5pm every day. We have a psychologist, physical therapist, nanny, and cook to help us out and provide the children and women with the help that they need. I also have two of my guys in the fields visiting families, but I always try to do the first visit to get a feel of their needs and decide whether to approve the help or not since we have so many families that desperately need it.” 

What are some of the challenges that you face? 

“My biggest challenge is definitely an emotional challenge. Sexual abuse is tremendously high within the communities that we serve, especially for children because of the living conditions here in Guatemala. So hearing these stories over and over again is extremely heartbreaking for me.” 

How has covid affected what you do? 

“We work with a lot of children with disabilities and health conditions so we’re being really cautious and making sure we’re always wearing our masks and disinfecting everything because we know that they can’t afford to get sick.”

How do you stay sane?

“I know that I can’t help everyone but I always try to still make an impact on their lives. Even if it’s just sitting down with them with a meal and letting them know that I understand how hard the situation they’re in is and also making them feel like they’re still human beings that are being seen. I may not be able to feed them for months but I find peace knowing that I was able to provide for them at the moment.” 

What pushes you to want to keep doing this? 

emanual in blue

“Honestly, I can’t see myself leaving Guatemala anytime soon because we came here with a plan. Being able to experience the smiles on people’s faces when you help them and how grateful they are and how much they’re willing to share with you even though they live in extreme poverty is a big push for us.”

Here’s how you can support Emanuel’s Non-profit organization:

Visiting Hope for Home Website.