Plan wins human rights award for work in Guatemala
Ricardo Gomez-Agnoli, Country Director of Plan Guatemala has been recognized by Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman for his contribution to improving children’s rights in the country.
The award, which came as a big surprise for Ricardo, was presented by the Assistant Human Rights Ombudsman, Mrs. Dunia Tobar de Leal.
Ricardo says it has been a gradual process to get where they are today. As a country with a young constitution, some Guatemalan citizens have trouble exercising their rights simply because they don’t know their rights. In many communities, the concept of rights and the fact that the government has obligations to its citizens are relatively new ideas.
One of the ways Plan has helped raise awareness of rights among communities in Guatemala has been by teaching children about their rights and getting them to spread the word. In one project, participating students were members of a student council in their local schools. Members of the group (which has grown to 1,200 youth) speak to members of their community and their contemporaries on children’s rights, monitoring when violations have taken place and advising families on what to do next.
Another major success in promoting rights was developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health five years ago. Plan Guatemala signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health to provide basic maternity and childcare, “In the first year, we paid for 80% of the costs, the next year we paid 60%, and now the government takes care of it themselves,” says Ricardo.
When asked what the keys to his success were, Ricardo cites a creative approach and honesty as his tips for making a difference. He says, “You have to help the communities realize that they are responsible for their own development and they have the power as citizens to make the necessary changes.”
Read more about Plan's work in Guatemala.
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