Year Joined MKLM: 2014
Country: El Salvador
City: San Cristobal
Project(s): San Francisco rural community
People Served: Children and youth
Project Goal(s): Promote children and youths’ personal development
In El Salvador, Juan lives and works in rural San Francisco, where the community makes its living as subsistence farmers. It is located outside San Cristobal town. He fosters a safe space for children and youth so they can develop individually, as a part of a community, and can always look for the common good. At the small middle school, he does values reinforcement. He is involved with the children’s after school program, critical thinking workshops and the parish youth group. His efforts are based on Popular Dialogue and Integral Pedagogies’ popular education methods and through the use of games and recreational activities. Based on the belief that it is the main and most important step to achieve sustainable change, Juan makes it a priority to develop each person’s critical thinking ability.
Juan reflects, “For me, being a Maryknoll Lay Missioner is to have my heart open, to be transformed by the community I live and work with, which continuously transforms me into a more compassionate person. By doing this, the people around me and those I have the privilege to work with are inspired to search and follow their own personal journey.”
Juan is from Manizales, Colombia. When he was a teenager, his family migrated to the USA. Juan recently lived in Toms River, NJ. He has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, and worked as a manufacturing engineer and car mechanic. Juan did several summer service trips to the Dominican Republic. As part of his mission discernment, Juan made an eight-month motorcycle pilgrimage of the Americas.
He shares about his motorcycle pilgrimage, “I have been blessed by meeting people with great hearts, each of them leaving a footprint on mine. Experiencing first-hand these different cultures and traditions has broadened my sense of spirituality, religion, and belonging. It has helped me be more open to different cultures and become more multi-cultural. At the same time it has strengthened even further my will to spend my life serving others.”