SC – Guatemala

Special Contributions


Mario José Gonzalez, President of the Centro de Voluntariado Guatemalteco [Guatemalan Volunteer Centre]

How has your organization partnered with volunteers? In what ways has your organization partnered and engaged with decision makers to address societal challenges? 

Since its inception, the Guatemalan Volunteer Centre’s goal has revolved around service. A fragmented society will never be able to advance in its development; we are all key actors in it, and our voluntary and active participation allows us to spread goodwill to the inhabitants of our country to join social causes.

As we say in Guatemala, forcing food, shoes and volunteering hurts! That is why our mission is to give people the opportunity to offer their skills and talents to their communities and contribute to the achievement of local development for all.

This is not possible without the involvement of authorities, academia, private companies, the Church and social organizations, which, together, intertwine their visions and missions for the common good.

The constant mapping and updating of our national goals gives us a comprehensive overview of where to focus our efforts and channel the expertise of each local actor for the common good.

Youth are crucial to achieving sustainable development and can also play a key role in conflict prevention. Youth-led organizations, as well as social initiatives, foundations and projects, together with other stakeholders and governments, need to work together to transform society into a fundamental tool for sustainable development, and for the full inclusion of various social groups.

Going forward, how can structures and systems for volunteer organizations and groups engage with decision makers to address ongoing challenges and emerging opportunities?

We’re developing, executing and assessing strategies that will enable future effective communication with decision makers nationwide, and thus work towards the quantitative and qualitative goals of all.

The projects revolve around short-, medium- and long-term goals and not specific people. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the centre of our local, community and national planning.

Without a doubt, we should be grateful to life because it allows us to enhance our qualities and talents around others; it allows us as citizens to live and have experiences that no one else feels or, at least, not as a volunteer experiences them. This makes sense, to be citizens with purpose and not just inhabitants of a country, or part of a statistic.

I do not know how volunteering is elsewhere, whether it has been easy or difficult, but what I am sure of is that volunteers are satisfied with what they have achieved, and that the best is yet to come.

How beautiful is life? It allows us to stop in our tracks and share our experiences with friends and colleagues. It helps us realize that we are not alone. There are more people doing good, and we are all joined as citizens of this country, with different missions and visions, but with the firm conviction that we are contributing to its development.

When one assumes the challenge of leading or directing an institution, they always seek to give their best, even when they run into personal and professional challenges and, above all, mistakes.

But when people with the same strength, spirit and faith appear on that road, the journey becomes a walk; without them, dreams and projects would have no meaning.

Only life knows what the future holds for us, and it is up to us to face each challenge with joy. As the singer-songwriter Mercedes Sosa put it, today we can say, “Thanks to the life that has given us so much.”