The corporation of Guatemala Hope has its roots in St. John the Evangelist Parish in Woodslee, Ontario.
In the 1990’s the Refugee committee at St. John’s undertook the sponsorship of 11 refugee families from around the world. In 1992, they were offered a “Special Needs Refugee Case.” The family was Eddy Gutierrez and his five young children from El Triunfo, Guatemala. Eddy was fleeing the country with the assistance of the Archbishop of Guatemala. His wife had been killed during a quiet protest of the people to protect their meager farms. So Eddy was in danger, as the government thought he would retaliate. He fled from El Triunfo and the Guatenala City Archbishop assisted him to appeal to the Canadian Catholic Church to sponsor his family to become refugees in Canada. The London Diocesan Refugee office contacted the farm village of St. John’s for assistance. A little while later Eddy’s brother was threatened so he and his wife Rosa also came to Canada and were sponsored by a neighboring parish-St. Simon and St. Jude in Belle River. The two families settled in the Woodslee and Belle River area.
In the year 2000, Rosa was very lonesome for her family and after a year of fundraising, she traveled home for a visit. She shared her anguish over the deterioration of living conditions in the village with the St. John’s Refugee Committee upon her return. The result was the creation of another parish committee in October of 2000- the St. John’s Guatemala Relief Committee.
This committee grew in strength and numbers and began to work towards improving the quality of life and self sufficiency of the villagers of El Triunfo. Their fundraising efforts made it possible to assist them with many projects and commodities. The committee recognized the need to go beyond the parish with awareness education as well as to provide the necessary financial growth. In the spring of 2003 the committee formally incorporated under the new title “Guatemala Hope”
This not-for-profit organization worked to form the initial Board of Directors of 11 people, and has grown to a general membership of over 200 people. All the while, it continued to make a difference in the lives of the people of El Triunfo and the surrounding area with bi-annual trips to the village to initiate projects, bring medical care, education, and economic improvements for the families there. They also work to bring awareness of Third World conditions to communities in Canada.
In the year 2007 the Corporation received its Charitable Tax status with the Canadian Government. Guatemala Hope will continue to bring “Hope” to the people of Guatemala.