El Patojismo’s Journey

Please use the arrows on the ends of the timeline or press the black dots to scroll through the years!

  • September 2006 – El Patojismo starts in parent’s home

    Juan Pablo recognized his community was troubled. Gangs ruled the streets, corruption, drugs, alcohol abuse, and poverty were a dire threat for the future of the next generation. In response, he created the school, El Patojismo, in his parent’s home.  The school grew to 150 students with a single toilet, far too small.

  • March 2012 – New school planning

    El Patojismo had been operating in the small house of Juan Pablo’s parents. The Directors of Give Kids a Chance began the search for land in Jocotenango, Guatemala. The Directors worked on the planning and approval stages for the children’s education/cultural centre.

  • September 2012 – Land purchased

    Land for the new school was purchased and the previous owner donated 50% more land after seeing the impact of the El Patojismo program.

  • January 2014 – School construction begins

    Phase One of the new school and youth centre is underway, the only type of centre in the town. Phase One is expected to be completed in June.

  • September 2014 – Juan Pablo becomes CNN Hero

    The Founder and Director of El Patojismo was recently named one of the Top Ten CNN Heroes for 2014. Each year CNN invites nominations from the public for the people in their communities that are making extraordinary efforts to change the world.

  • January 2015 – School opens

    There are now 150 children in the primary school. 50 Youth are in Art and English classes at night.

  • September 2015 – Medical clinic

    International Partners add a medical clinic to El Patojismo that is on target to treat more than 3,000 patients in its first year.

  • September 2017 – Addition of Grade 8

    El Patojismo adds Grade 8 with plans for Grade 9 for the coming year. The medical clinic receives an ultrasound scanner a generous donation of the Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation.

  • January 2018 – Grade 9 added and 350 students

    In Guatemala over 300,000 children are unable to attend primary school, only 50% attend Grades 7 – 9. With the addition of Grade 9, we will give all our students an opportunity to graduate from Grade 9 with continued support to attend Grades 10 and 11, the finals years of High School in Guatemala.

  • March 2018 – Chromebooks and free Google for education

    Give Kids A Chance received a grant for Chromebook computers from the Rotary Club of Kelowna, B.C. All the teachers from the 5th Grade up to the 9th Grade are using the Chromebooks in Computer classes, Mathematics, English, Science and Social Studies.

  • October 2018 – First Grade 9 graduation

    This is a very significant event for our students as in Guatemala less than 40% of students are even enrolled in high school and far less graduate. 91% of El Patojismo students graduated.

  • September 2019 – Over 375 students

    With more than 375 students there is always lots to do! The kitchen ensures that students have sufficient food, morning, afternoon and evening

  • October 2019 – Land for high school college obtained

    Because of a generous donation by two of the Directors of Give Kids a Chance, Bryan and Rosi Levman, we have purchased land to build a high school/college. The original school was designed for 250 students and we will have 410 in 2020.

  • February 2020 – Plans for new secondary school/college complete

    With the addition of Grade 11, the new Secondary School has become even more essential. The plans are complete, we need your help to build the campus!

  • March 2020 – COVID-19

    The Directors completed their necessary work and returned home early due to Covid-19. Our attention turned to creating and implementing on-line learning and homework packets for the students and more importantly, providing food packets for those in the community who have lost their employment and income and were in danger of going hungry.

  • June 2020 – Construction of new secondary school begins

  • September 2022 – Construction complete, First Open House

  • January 2023 – Our new secondary school – The Belle Levman Centre of Opportunity opens with more than 200 students in attendance

Meet Genser

Genser struggled in his younger years due to familial violence. As a consequence, his studies at school suffered. He came to El Patojismo when he was 11 years old. Over the last 8 years he learned that he cannot change his past, but he can improve his future. After graduating Grade 9 he received a scholarship to study with Agrequima, a non-profit in Guatemala whose aim is to teach the proper use and management of pesticides and fertilizers to produce more organic crops.

Genser feels that being a part of El Patojismo has taught him that he can express his own ideas, follow his dreams and change his life circumstances.

He actively participates in sports and cultural programs, helps to cook and clean the centre . He also teaches the younger students what he has learned about the importance of the agriculture program which provides them with low cost but healthier food.

Genser states that the most valuable lessons he has learned at El Patojismo are dignity, honour and that sacrifice equals success . He has a new goal, to become an Agricultural Engineer. We will help him in any way we can to achieve his goal so he can continue to help the other 400 students.

Our programs


English is a very important asset when seeking employment in Guatemala. At El Patojismo, we’ve worked hard to implement a new English Program for Grades 1 to 11. We formed a partnership with a local bilingual school that is helping to develop an English program with our own English teachers, using the resources at hand. The students are very enthusiastic and within a few short weeks, are already speaking some English. The new secondary school will have enough senior classrooms to ensure this program is improved and expanded.

If our students have a strong command of English, their chances of achieving gainful employment are far better. El Patojismo is very close to the town of Antigua, a world heritage site visited by millions of tourists each year. The majority of the tourists will have English as a common language, and the ability to speak English is important for all workers in the tourism industry.

Community Outreach and Internships

Our community outreach program is also an essential part of the high school program.  We are working with local businesses to find out what skills and jobs are in demand, and we will then tailor our educational and internship programmes to these needs.

The Founder of El Patojismo School has been working with local businesses to place our Grade 11 students in internships. We want them to graduate not only with knowledge, but practical skills that can help them to obtain a job and excel at it. We have already established internships for almost half of our graduating class this year – at local cafes, restaurants and other businesses.