Pa’nibal to organize as a Guatemalan NGO

Earlier this summer I met with Irene and Louis, the Vice President and President of INCEDES (Central American Institute of Social Studies and Development) at their offices in Guatemala City. With their help and yours, Pa’nibal will be an NGO by the summer of 2018. Pictured above is Irene, Juan, myself and Louis.

Longevity for Pa’nibal. Stability for our staff and residents. Your donation ensures the community and services we’re building are built to last.

We need just $1,500 more to make it happen.

INCEDES is a Civil Association of lawyers and judiciaries that has been advocating private humanitarian projects via legal support and government liaison for more than a decade. The meeting had been a long time coming — I’d been talking with Juan Calderón and Alejandra Hernández, General Director and Director of Operations at Pa’nibal, for some time about organizing Pa’nibal into an official Guatemalan non government organization (NGO).

Organizing as a Guatemalan NGO isn’t trivial. The Guatemalan government has a deplorable track record of human rights abuses and deep multilateral corruption interconnecting several political parties and crossing executive, military and judicial boundaries — a less than ideal climate for organizing a small, foreign funded humanitarian project. In fact, Jimmy Morales, the president of Guatemala, announced earlier today that he plans to expel the chief of a U.N. anti-corruption council installed to investigate, among other things, the source of Morales’ campaign funds as well as the multi-million dollar customs fraud that placed Guatemala’s previous president Otto Molina and his Vice President in prison. INCEDES will provide the guidance and protection that we need when interfacing with the government and legitimizing as a publicly and legally recognized organization.

Why organize as an NGO?

The bottom line is simple: To better serve our residents. Waters Esteban Foundation is a Colorado non-profit corporation, but the staff at Pa’nibal are an ad-hoc association of contract workers (think 1099 vs W2), and Pa’nibal itself is simply a name with no legal standing or official recognition.

Under the guidance of INCEDES Pa’nibal will be formally organizing as a Guatemalan NGO — a process we hope to have finalized by the summer of 2018. Official recognition, the assembly of a board and the formalization of our financial processes under Guatemalan legal requirements will put Pa’nibal in protected standing with governmental institutions and deliver long term stability to our home, our staff and our residents. Additionally, organizing as an NGO and collaborating with INCEDES and their highly credible network of partners will mean access to top quality legal, health, psychiatric and general advocacy services. We’re very excited about taking this important step.

Working with minors & child mothers

Organizing as an NGO is a prerequisite step to further licensing and accreditations that are critically important to the work we do. At present Pa’nibal is not formally permitted to serve minors without a guardian or women with recognized psychological disabilities — a severe setback considering so many of our target residents fall into those categories. While our strong relationship with local officials has produced some flexibility around these limitations, accreditation and licensing is the permanent solution.

Guatemalan government officials called Pa’nibal more than a dozen times after the International Women’s Day orphanage tragedy earlier this year looking for resources to house some of the hundreds of displaced orphans. We were forced to turn down the requests phone call after phone call as we’re officially unable to take on adolescent residents due to our lack of licensing. Two young girls from the Guatemala City orphanage did eventually come to Pa’nibal after other options were completely exhausted, but we would have been able to help many more with the appropriate licensing.

Manuel has been at Pa’nibal with his mother Sofia for almost a year. In that time Sofia has made significant progress in group and individual therapy, has completed a parenting and children’s health class, has begun working towards a primary school equivalency, and has secured stable part-time work. Were Sofia just a year younger when she first came to us, we wouldn’t have had the legal right to protect her and her son.

Improved structure, oversight and opportunity for collaboration

Guatemalan NGOs are required to have a sizeable board of directors, some fourteen members in all. Assembling a board that size will be a significant task, but one that will result in increased long term stability and a more diverse collection of human resources at the helm of Pa’nibal.

With the help of Irene and Louis, we have begun plans for the assembly of an international board with several of the fourteen chairs to be filled by U.S. donors & partners. This international structure will help us take advantage of a wider range of human resources as well as help to establish a deeper sense of international community and involvement among our donors.

Please help us take this important step

Organizing as a Guatemalan NGO will take both time and money. Irene and Louis of INCEDES have provided a detailed plan that places the end of the process — a full board and legal NGO status — in the summer of 2018. They have also generously offered to provide their services at a steep 50% discount, a gesture that highlights the value they place on privately funded social service providers like Pa’nibal.

We need your help to raise the $3,000 necessary to take this important step. At the time of writing this post, we have already raised $1,100 due to two generous donors, leaving us with just $1,900 to go. Your donation of any amount will help us make sure that the community and services we’re building are built to last. Thank you so much for being a part of this.

Longevity for Pa’nibal. Stability for our staff and residents. Your donation ensures the community and services we’re building are built to last.

We need just $1,500 more to make it happen.