How the story began…

In 2006, our founder, Marten Dresen came to Guatemala to learn Spanish and volunteer with a non-profit in Ciudad Vieja. During his trip, he befriended a girl named Mirna from the local community. After noticing that she was always barefoot, Marten decided to give her a pair of shoes. Mirna’s gratitude touched him so deeply that he was moved to do more for Guatemalan children from low-income families, realising that a relatively small investment could make a huge difference in their lives.

After returning to Holland, Marten allied with his friend Sander Wirken and his sister Annemiek. They believed that the key to a better future for children like Mirna was access to quality education and as a result, Niños de Guatemala was born. The organization was founded in the Netherlands and the Dutch branch started its fundraising activities. In 2007 Annemiek moved to Guatemala to start the organization there, together with Antigua local Carmen Paniagua. Sander joined them in 2008 in preparation for the construction of the first school.


  • 2009 – We open our first elementary school, Nuestro Futuro, in partnership with the local community
  • 2012 – Based on the success of the first school, we open a second elementary school, El Porvenir, in nearby San Lorenzo
  • 2014 – The first students graduate from Nuestro Futuro and construction begins on a middle school to accommodate them.
  • 2015 – The middle school, El Básico, opens in Ciudad Vieja to continue the secondary education of our students.

Two of Mirna’s siblings are currently enrolled in Niños de Guatemala. Marten, Sander, Annemiek and Carmen are all still actively involved in NDG’s activities.