A Global Refuge in Guatemala: new program serves repatriated youth | Global Refuge

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Press Release

A Global Refuge in Guatemala: new program serves repatriated youth

Global Refuge Staff

April 8, 2024

“Camino a Casa” program provides educational, vocational, and mental health support to youth returned to Guatemala


April 8, 2024

Contact: Timothy Young | timothy.young@globalrefuge.org

Baltimore, MD – Global Refuge, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving and advocating for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, today announced its international expansion to Guatemala.

Record numbers of unaccompanied youth have been encountered at the U.S. southern border in recent years, with 42% originating from Guatemala in Fiscal Year 2023. For decades, Global Refuge has served this population in the U.S. through foster care and family reunification services, however an increasing number of youths are returned to their home country by U.S. and Mexican authorities.

Through its new “Camino A Casa” program, the organization is providing support to repatriated youth in Guatemala for up to twelve months to ensure successful reintegration. In conjunction with local partners, the program offers an array of clinical support, case management services, and referrals tailored to the unique needs of participants, as well as supplementary income and connections to community resources.

“When youth are returned to their home country, they face daunting challenges such as large debts, mental and emotional trauma, a lack of job prospects, difficulty accessing educational opportunity, and more,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Global Refuge. “We firmly believe that every young person deserves a chance to reach their full potential, support themselves and their families, and strengthen their communities.”

Youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who are returned to Guatemala receive an individualized service plan that focuses on their specific needs, including family reunification, mental health and family counseling services, educational support, vocational training, financial literacy, mentorship, and referrals to additional services as appropriate. To eliminate barriers such as transportation, Global Refuge staff deliver services in-home to participants in nine of the country’s departments with a particular focus on the Western Highlands, whose indigenous populations tend to experience higher rates of repatriation.

“This program provides meaningful opportunities for returned Guatemalan youth to heal and thrive, and creates a viable alternative to making another dangerous and costly migration journey,” continued Vignarajah. “We are excited to continue growing Global Refuge’s continuum of care for young people and their families, whether that’s in the United States or in their countries of origin.”

To learn more about “Camino A Casa”, visit the program webpage or watch the launch video to hear from staff and clients.


About us:

Global Refuge, formerly Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, is a nonprofit serving newcomers seeking safety, support, and a share in the American dream. For 85 years, we have welcomed those seeking refuge, upholding a legacy of compassion and grace for people in crisis. We walk alongside individuals, families, and children as they begin their new lives in the United States through our work in refugee resettlement, welcome and respite services for asylum seekers, economic empowerment and employment, and family unification for unaccompanied children. To date, we have served over 750,000 people from around the globe. At Global Refuge, welcoming newcomers isn’t just our duty—it’s an inherent part of our identity, rooted in our Lutheran heritage and inspired values, and serving as a testament to our unwavering commitment to those in search of refuge.

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