• Future

Aldea Infantil, Guatemala:
Visiting Friends

  • Future

“The thing that touched and delight­ed us the most during our entire, way too short visit was how chil­dren and grown-ups alike were enjoy­ing their lives with so much opti­mism.“ – Daniel Bauer, Valdivia

Since 2021, Valdivia has been support­ing the children’s village Aldea Infan­til Rudolf Walther in the high­lands of Guatemala. In April 2023 then, it was final­ly time for Daniel Bauer and his fami­ly to person­al­ly take a look at our’ children’s village ((Link 1)). Aldea Infan­til was found­ed by the Children’s Future Foun­da­tion in 1991. Locat­ed in the high­lands of Guatemala, it today offers protec­tion, a sense of secu­ri­ty, and a place to call their home to approx. 160 children.

”From the very start, it was impor­tant to us that the Children’s Future Foun­da­tion portray its work in a way that is high stan­dard, humane, modest, and most of all promotes person­al contact. Visits to support­ed projects and the spon­sored chil­dren are always more than welcome and excel­lent­ly organ­ised. The chil­dren and the team there have never just anony­mous­ly taken our money. Today, through active exchange and espe­cial­ly through meet­ing in person, they have become a part of our life,“ says Daniel Bauer.

The Adven­ture is On

The trip via Hous­ton first went to Guatemala City. The next morn­ing, Jerson, Aldea Infantil’s driver and tour guide, was wait­ing in front of the hotel right at the appoint­ed time. All the way to the village, he provid­ed the fami­ly with infor­ma­tion on the village and life in Guatemala.

Now a truly Guatemalan adven­ture began. Instead of the expect­ed 3.5 hours, the trip took a full 6 hours and provid­ed first-hand insights into this pover­ty-strick­en coun­try: gas stations guard­ed by heav­i­ly armed police. Unimag­in­able pover­ty. Villages made up of single hous­es here and there with­out any of the conve­niences so normal to us, such as elec­tric­i­ty and tap water; the clos­est water points are often a good foot march away. Shock­ing­ly narrow moun­tain roads do not stop one of those colour­ful chick­en busses’  from over­tak­ing the other vehi­cles in a traf­fic jam. Drivers running late, you see, have to pay seri­ous fines.

Arriv­ing at Aldea Infan­til Children’s Village

The exten­sive premis­es of the children’s village at the edge of the small town Salca­já, by compar­i­son, present­ed them­selves as so much more attrac­tive. Among the facil­i­ties that the 35 acres boost are 18 resi­den­tial hous­es for groups, office build­ings, guest apart­ments, work shops for job train­ing, a school, a daycare facil­i­ty for chil­dren, as well as a health care center offer­ing its services to chil­dren in the surround­ing area as well. All around, there are green areas for play. There is a foot­ball field, a basket­ball court, a school garden, exten­sive farm­ing areas and a piece of forest. On top of all this, the Children’s Future Foun­da­tion also oper­ates two outlets in the region: small schools where the chil­dren of the surround­ing area acquire the most impor­tant skills – a silver lining in a coun­try other­wise controlled by corrup­tion, a state that fails to provide for, protect, or educate its chil­dren in any way.

Daniel Bauer, ”The contrast is down­right painful: Seeing just how little money is need­ed to achieve so much, you just wish you could do more!“

Valdivia specif­i­cal­ly supports House No 5. Just like any of the resi­den­tial hous­es, it is home to the chil­dren here so they can live in a solid and strong fami­ly – often for the first time in their lives – with up to nine ’broth­ers and sisters’ and a fami­ly moth­er. Hous­es are well built, neat and clean, with bedrooms for two or four chil­dren each, anoth­er one for the house moth­er as well as a kitchen and a bathroom.

Just Like Visit­ing Family

All of the village’s manage­ment gath­ered to welcome the visi­tors from Germany. The ice broke easi­ly over tea and cook­ies. No-one was shy to meet and greet the other ones. A merry mix of German, English and Span­ish filled the room. ”We did not feel like strangers, but like part of the fami­ly prac­ti­cal­ly right away,“ Daniel Bauer remem­bers – a feel­ing that prevailed and even grew stronger all through the stay.

It was not a mere coin­ci­dence that Daniel Bauer’s daugh­ter cele­brat­ed her birth­day just the follow­ing day and village chil­dren were more than happy to arrange for a prop­er party. “Clear­ly, it was not an oblig­a­tion that had to be done for us, the visi­tors, but also an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cele­brate for the chil­dren them­selves“, Daniel Bauer explains. Honour­ing the birth­day child’s favourite hero­ine, the deco­ra­tion was all mermaid-themed. There was plen­ty of cake, pizza and local dish­es, the latter being made from home-grown ingre­di­ents, and – as is the tradi­tion at a truly Guatemal­tan children’s birth­day party – a large, well-filled piña­ta.

Friends Far From Home

Even if the party was defi­nite­ly a high­light, it was not an excep­tion. As if it was the most natur­al thing, the Bauer Fami­ly were involved in the villagers’ lives. They had meals togeth­er with the ’fami­ly’ in House No 5. The German chil­dren quick­ly made friends and played with their other chil­dren of the same age, despite of the language barri­er. When visit­ing a school class, Daniel Bauer ’test­ed’ the pupils’ knowl­edge. Due to the lack of language skills, it had to be Maths: “2 + 2 = 6,“ he wrote on the board. A storm of protest hit him right away and he was correct­ed to write ”4“. More exer­cis­es like this followed, during which the chil­dren displayed an enor­mous joy of learning.

Other ties were also strength­ened: The 15-year-old son of a Valdivia employ­ee took on the role of the godfa­ther for a 6‑year-old boy who had only come to the village as an orphan last year. Now the Bauer Fami­ly could hand over a present to the child, two toy cars he had been wait­ing for so desper­ate­ly. Yet, the connec­tion that the two boys have roots much deep­er: The six-year-old comes from a very remote region and, at the begin­ning, he only spoke its local dialect. So now, his godfa­ther and him are learn­ing Span­ish togeth­er – right from the start, despite the differ­ence in age and the long distance between them.


Aldea Infan­til – A Chance for the Most Helpless

”The chil­dren of Guatemala often grow up under the most horri­ble circum­stances,“ Daniel Bauer reports. ”Some as orphans, some aban­doned because their parents…often single mothers…can no longer feed them. More­over, a lot of them expe­ri­ence violence, diseases and more out on the streets. Those who are lucky enough to get into the children’s village are often heav­i­ly trau­ma­tized. That is why there are also psychol­o­gists that take care of the chil­dren. Aldea Infantil’s engage­ment, howev­er, goes much further than that: They prepare and give out meals for the chil­dren of the village and the surround­ing area; most of the times, this is the only nutri­tious food in a day for these children.“

Achiev­ing So Much With So Little

It was very impor­tant to the Bauer Fami­ly to listen to the concrete needs of the village and its outlets – consis­tent­ly modest and hands-on wish­es. One of the schools, for instance, would only need a simple shelf, the type that you would easi­ly buy for a couple of euros at a random DIY store. Anoth­er one wish­es for some wall paint and, final­ly again, a fully func­tion­al toilet so that the chil­dren do not have to take to the forest when they need to relieve them­selves. The village would be happy about a firm plas­tic board for the green­house, a projec­tor as well as books and book­shelves for the small library. The most press­ing need right now: a motor-plough for the farm­ing fields and vegetable beds that, today, still need to be worked with their hands. Plough­ing would lead to much better harvests and improve the village’s system of self-support.

Mind you, the village manage­ment, staff and chil­dren are not idle. Every­body is busy all the time, Daniel Bauer recounts: ”In the work­shop, they were repair­ing a wash­er and I could see self-installed solar panels on some of the roofs. If you ask what is miss­ing, they are not shy to say what they need, but other­wise you will hard­ly ever hear any wish­es or complaints.“

Not a Farewell, But a Beginning

“We met so much natur­al warm-heart­ed­ness that we found it hard to leave again,“ Daniel Bauer clos­es his report. ”Most certain­ly, this was not our last trip there. There is a chance that there will even be a program for the entire Valdivia staff to fly there for one tor two weeks and get active themselves.

This is where the concept of the Children’s Future Foun­da­tion is so covinc­ing and clear­ly differs from others: You do not just trans­fer a money dona­tion to some bank account, you will actu­al­ly get some­thing in return – joy, perspec­tives, a bit of a future togeth­er. This aspect has been so impor­tant to us at Validi­via from the very start, but it was our visit that made it some­thing tangi­ble. This person­al, human contact in a world so differ­ent from ours has touched me and my fami­ly so much … I can only encour­age every­body else to go and have the same experience!“

Daniel Bauers concludes: ”Besides the omnipresent commit­ment of every­body involved, I found it impor­tant to know that all our dona­tions will always reach the goal. The Children’s Future Foun­da­tion has been list­ed with the DZI (= ”Deutsches Zentralin­sti­tut für soziale Fragen”, rough­ly: German central insti­tute for social matters) for many years: The DZI-Spenden-Siegel  (DZI’s dona­tions certi­fi­ca­tion) is proof that the foun­da­tion handles the money it is trust­ed with with all dili­gence and respon­si­bil­i­ty. And I think it makes the foun­da­tion even more likable that they promote their cause with posi­tive pictures only, with­out present­ing the chil­dren as undig­ni­fied victims. Their appear­ance as a whole conveys hope and future-orientation.“

Join the cause and help!

You can support the project in a vari­ety of ways – as an indi­vid­ual, as a club or soci­ety, and also as an enter­prise. Visit the Children’s Future Foundation’s website for more infor­ma­tion and find out which of the options suit you the best! The foundation…

  • guar­an­tees that 100 % of your dona­tions will reach the children,
  • fights pover­ty right there where it is root­ed and targets its causes,
  • is active at ‘forgot­ten places’ where there is hard­ly any other help,
  • stays with the chil­dren until they have made it

…so that the chil­dren them­selves will be able to bring opti­mism, know-how and peace into their communities.

The main purpose of the foun­da­tion is to make young people strong enough to help them­selves. This starts with their phys­i­cal and mental well-being. In a next step, they acquire the knowl­edge and skills to build up their lives once they are grown up, to stay in their home coun­try, and to later help others as well. This way, every dona­tion or support has a sustain­able effect.

Stiftung Kinderzukun­ft (The Children’s Future Foundation)

Rabenaus­traße 1a, D‑63584 Grün­dau, Germany
Hans-Georg Bayer
Manag­ing Director
Fon: +49 60 51 48 18 14
Fax: +49 60 51 48 18 10
Email address: hans-georg.bayer@kinderzukunft.de
Inter­net: www.kinderzukunft.de

Make your dona­tions payable to

Bank: Commerzbank Hanau
IBAN: DE79 5064 0015 0222 2222 00

Please state  ”Valdivia Zukun­ft — Kinder­dorf Guatemala“ as a reference.