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Country Profile: Guatemala

Once the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization, Guatemala boasts a rich heritage that is still woven throughout its culture. Sadly, the country suffered a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, a conflict that left the country deeply scarred. As a result, Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world and the indigenous population is largely affected by discrimination and lack of access to basic necessities and education. Youth are both victims and perpetrators of violence, and gang life is a daily reality. Violence has affected the population so much that the World Health Organization declared youth violence as a global health problem and has recommended the need for effective prevention programs.

Play for Peace is active in seven different communities, both urban and rural, and the clubs are diverse in population—made up of indigenous groups, a women's collective, and university students. All of the communities where Play for Peace is active struggle with poverty and violence. Youth facilitators there work to build relationships with the children they meet during play sessions, and most children return regularly to participate, learning to cooperate in a group and make new friends. Several children, who started out as participants, are now youth facilitators who bring change and peace to their communities.

The work of youth leaders in Guatemala is growing in number and impact. They will continue to bridge divides between ethnic groups and inspire hope in children and youth in communities affected by conflict.

"The program gives young people the opportunity to interact and participate in meaningful activities. It helps them not only stay away from trouble, but also find the self confidence and courage to stand up against violence and become positive and respected leaders in their communities."   

Juan de Dios 
Director, Community Youth Program, Palencia, Guatemala 

Play for Peace Clubs, Projects and Stories

Play for Peace Palencia

Palencia, Guatemala


Palin, Escuintla

Play for Peace Cuyuta

Masagua, Escuintla

Play for Peace Champel

San Felipe, Guatemala

Play for Peace AMARC

Columba, Quetzaltenago

Kojb'iyin Junam

San Raymundo, Guatemala


San Felipe, Guatemala

Jugar Xla Paz Cantel

 Quetzaltenago, Guatemala

  • Apr 2, 2021

    Last month Play for Peace celebrated International Women’s Day, a day that honors the achievements of women around the world. Within Play for Peace, there are many amazing and admirable women who work tirelessly as peace builders, including Teresa Raguay or Seno Tere, a teacher and youth coordinator for one of our clubs in Guatemala. We sat down with Teresa to learn about how her work helps women in her community.

  • Feb 13, 2020

    As part of our most recent Global Games for Interfaith Harmony Week, this week we hosted an exchange between the HOLA club in Los Angeles, California, and the Cantel Club in Guatemala. Our clubs' shared their visions and the work they are doing, and had a blast in the process!

  • Sep 20, 2019

    Tomorrow, September 21, is World Peace Day. In honor of this important global celebration, we are excited about the many wonderful efforts happening in the Play for Peace global community—from our clubs’ World Peace Day activities to our annual Fall 5K event. 

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