Efforts to support would-be and returned migrants in their home countries are gaining media attention. Recently, NPR journalists John Burnet and Marisa Peñaloza published two feature stories about Guatemalan migration to the United States that featured beneficiaries of IAF grantee partners’ work to support Guatemalans seeking better opportunities.
Both NPR pieces provide a grassroots perspective on the push factors driving migration from Guatemala’s Northern Highlands. The authors remind us that irregular migration is not a new phenomenon, albeit an increasingly complicated one. In the IAF’s experience, endemic violence, environmental challenges, economic shocks and family reunification are ingredients of a complex situation that needs to be addressed holistically. Interestingly, both NPR pieces also highlight civil society efforts to engage with would-be and returned migrants in an effort to encourage young people to build lives in Guatemala, as well as to provide returned migrants an opportunity to share the skills and lessons learned from their time in the United States with their communities of origin.
Our grantee partner Asociación Para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Juventud (ADESJU), featured in both NPR pieces, provides youth with leadership training and entrepreneurship opportunities within the municipalities of Chiantla and Aguacatán. These activities counter high school dropout rates, entry into gangs, and substance abuse. Asociación de Retornados Guatemaltecos (ARG), featured in the first article, works to facilitate the productive transition of returned migrants to their native country. They connect returned Guatemalan migrants with potential employers and create partnerships with the government for services such as vocational training and emotional support. In partnering with grantees like ADESJU and ARG, the IAF seeks to foster an environment where local residents can successfully generate opportunities and improve community resilience and individual sense of belonging, which hopefully reduces the need or desire to leave home.
Since 2016, the IAF has significantly increased its funding to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to support grantees like ADESJU and ARG that that promote alternatives to migration and advance the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America. We are proud of our grantee partners and all of the great work they do. If you want to know more, subscribe to our newsletter or explore our portfolio of projects.