"Now She is the Love of My Life"
Karla was 17 when she first came to La Alianza (Covenant House Guatemala), fleeing from abuse, her two-month old daughter in her arms.
“This is very difficult to say, but if I am being honest, when my daughter was born, I didn’t want her at first,” says Karla. “But I quickly realized my daughter had nothing to do with what happened to me and I accepted it.
“Now my daughter is the love of my life.”
“The time Karla spent with us has been invaluable,” said Carolina Escobar Sarti, the National Director of La Alianza who in October of 2019 received the prestigious Olof Palme Medallion recognizing her work in the defense of human rights, commitment to peace, resolution of conflicts, and sustainable development.
“This is a young girl who came to us unable to read, and now nine years later she is a nurse, working with us to take care of the babies in our program. She gets along so well with our staff and with the girls in our program. Her success is so inspiring, especially to the other young girls who have gone through so much trauma. She is living independently and saving money to advance her education. Karla shows all of us there is hope.”
Extreme poverty, abandonment, violence and abuse force children like Karla away from their homes and into the streets, where they are at risk of exploitation for sexual and commercial purposes. Kids as young as eight find themselves forced into gang violence or the sex industry, with little hope of escape.
Since 1981, our Casa Alianza (Spanish for Covenant House) programs have been providing shelter, protection and rehabilitation for children and teenagers in Latin America who are abused, abandoned, trafficked, addicted or left on the streets.
At La Alianza we provide residential care for female victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Guatemala City. The La Alianza Guatemala residence includes a shelter dedicated to teen moms who have been trafficked or exploited, and their babies, and includes prenatal and postnatal care, infant and child parenting classes and a range of multidisciplinary services.
Carolina and staff also provide anti-trafficking awareness and education, training and working with local authorities, community leaders, and with teachers on how to recognize trafficking victims and where survivors can go for help.
“We also stand by our girls who are victims of human trafficking with legal support, monitoring their cases throughout all judicial processes and preparing them to be witnesses when necessary in cases against traffickers,” said Carolina.
A Prestigious Honor
As with every Covenant House program in 31 cities across six countries, the safety of our youth is the number one priority. In December 2019, our emphasis on this core value led to La Alianza being awarded Praesidium Accreditation by Praesidium, Inc. This accreditation publicly demonstrates the organization has worked to achieve the highest industry standards in abuse prevention.
To attain accreditation, La Alianza underwent a rigorous risk assessment to review all policies, including screening and selection, monitoring, and supervision.
“The girls who come to us deserve nothing but the best we can offer,” says Carolina. “They need stability and safety and to be surrounded by love. When we can provide those things, there is nothing they cannot achieve.”