Good News from Guatemala: Helping The Shoe Shine Kids Prepare for a Better Future

Rudy Giron: Antigua Guatemala &emdash; Helping The Shoe Shine Kids

One week after I started AntiguaDailyPhoto on May 1, 2006 I pointed out how kids should be in school instead of working on the streets. The entry was entitled Tourists and shoe-shining boy.

Only two weeks later I presented you a little boy no more than 5 years old with a shoe shining box in his right hand walking the wet streets of the rainy season in Antigua Guatemala. This is what I wrote then in Antigua’s child labor:

The future of a society is with the children and their education and preparation. What kind of future awaits for Guatemala when its children are on the streets working to survive today. What kind of education and preparation will its labor force have in ten or twenty years? I posted another photo of a child at work on May 7th.

It is very disturbing to me to see children working to survive today instead of being in school and have the minimum provided to them. By the way, child labor is illegal in Guatemala and school is mandatory for children under 16. As you can see, neither is enforced by the government.

Almost a year later, on May 29, 2007 I touched the issue again with All Work And No Play Makes For A Very Dull Day:

What I learned from these kids is that rock climbing is possible in La Antigua Guatemala; child labor still present in Antigua and I don’t know if ever it will be eradicated; regardless of the labor conditions, kids will find a way to play. Good for them!

How can we expect a better future as a country if our future is on the streets working instead of in school preparing to make a better nation?

I am happy to report that the Bianchi brothers and others are doing something to prepare the shoe shine kids for a better future through the Project by educating them about art, recycling, English, sports, drawing, music, theatre, cooking, organic farming, dancing, computer classes, et cetera.

Here we see Guillermo of ShoeShineKids and Merle, a student from the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop discussing how to best approach the photographic documentation of the kids shining shoes around the main square. Let’s hope all these photojournalism projects will cast enough light onto the good things that are happening in Guatemala.

© 2014 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • El Canche

    Who would not agree that such NGO work has merit? It is easy to see the potential to progress where the status quo is so damaged…but then how can you argue with the needs a shoe-shine boy has today? But then what of university graduates in Europe working in fast-food stores and over 50% youth unemployment in Spain? Unfortunately education has not provided jobs down the line and may well be the failed promise of this generation as far as wealth-creation is concerned.
    Since we now live in a world where money is god, the role models are now celebrity, top sportsman, gangster or drug baron,with worthy roles as agricultural workers, carpenters or other manual jobs being scorned. When I lived and worked in Guate, do you think I could find a good industrial electrician? Rather than seeking salvation in alternate opportunity, why not teach our young to do the work that’s in front of us with ever-increasing excellence (even shining shoes)…..check out Germany!

  • ddeubel

    El Canche,

    I don’t think he’s suggesting that the boys don’t shine shoes. Only that it comes into second or equal place to access / attendance at school. Education is not just what provides a job/skill. Basic literacy, numeracy, digital literacy, social education (hygiene, health, fitness, law, relationships) are all required to have a citizenry that has the fundamentals to realize their full potential (jobs or happiness). I do hope this NGO is taking that approach – seems so.