By: Bianca Garcia
If 2017 has shown us anything, it is that there is a lot of need in the world, especially a need for love. People often think that in order to help it has be done in a far off, barren location to dig a well, or rebuild homes after devastating natural disasters. These are all amazing things to give your time to, yet it is easy to forget all the need that exists in your immediate surroundings. Particularly, all the needs right across the border from El Paso.
One organization currently working in Juarez to meet some of these needs is a ministry called Amigo Fiel that was started 25 years ago by Carlos Garcia. Growing up poor and on the streets of Juárez himself, Carlos knew firsthand what it was like to not have a safe and loving place to go. His father was an alcoholic and his mother worked all week as a house cleaner in El Paso, essentially leaving him and his five siblings to fend for themselves. In 1993 after living in the United States for 20 years he began taking weekend trips to Juárez with his church. He worked helping build houses and with local orphanages with the desire to give back to young children and families like his. This grew into a bigger vision that has since become Amigo Fiel.
Amigo Fiel is a non-profit that focuses on providing a safe and loving place for kids to go afterschool for a balanced lunch, help with homework, reading time and an in-depth Christian-based character series that focuses on developing the basic foundations of good character for life. The number of children that Amigo Fiel serves on a daily basis ranges anywhere from 50 to 100. No child is ever turned away and Amigo Fiel has never, and will never, charge for attendance. Everything is 100 percent funded through donations.
The majority of the children who attend this afterschool program come from home situations that are similar to that of Carlos’ childhood. Some have lost one or both parents to drugs, while others have parents who are working long hours to make ends meet. Children are left to fend for themselves, lacking guidance, support and structure that is needed.
Along with providing daily necessities, like lunch and help with homework, school scholarships are provided for any child in need who regularly attends Amigo Fiel. These scholarships have allowed many of these children to complete middle school and high school, but have also enabled some of the youth to attend college over the years. For many of them this means being the first in their family to not only finish high school, but to go even further and get a college degree and an opportunity to better their life, family and future.
One thing that has brought the most noticeable change is the Christian based character series that Amigo Fiel teaches on a continuous basis. The series teaches life skills like good manners, integrity and conversation skills. Before starting this series, many of the kids were unreasonable and very rebellious. However, after a few short months huge changes in behavior began to occur and today the children continue to make progress in building good character. In 2017, Amigo Fiel was selected, along with three other afterschool programs, to serve as a blueprint for all afterschool programs throughout Mexico, specifically because of this character series. The translation? What they are doing is working and is worth replicating!
Beyond working with children, this organization also works in the community to help meet basic needs. Needs range anywhere from food to wheelchairs. Amazingly, all of these needs can be met through donations received by Amigo Fiel. Contributions also come in the form of doctors, dentist and volunteers who give their time to help the community.
There is always going to be need in the world in one form or another. While it is easy to become overwhelmed by that fact, the truth is the only people that can make a difference are the ones who choose to take action however they can. If you would like to know more about Amigo Fiel visit their website at www.AmigoFiel.org.