Carlos Duran is the founder of Hombres de Palabra (Men of their Word), an organization that works to help men reach their maximum potential through education, training and initiatives. Carlos is also the recipient of the White House’s 2012 Champion of Change award. On Monday evening, Carlos delivered a keynote address to the delegation of Guatemalan officials. Excerpts of his speech are included below as are pictures from this week’s meetings with the delegation. For a copy of the full speech, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are meeting today for a common cause. This common cause is the future of the children in our communities, and therefore the future of our nations. Because when it comes to children we are talking about the largest and most important natural resource and wealth in a nation; a richness that has to be cultivated, cared for, protected and educated so that it can reach its potential and write history.
…Our children, and the goal of providing them the environment that helps them reach their potential, should be the motivation that calls us to do the work that we have been assigned to. This week, as we look to develop programs or safety nets to protect our nation’s unprotected children, we must try to develop programs that deal with the roots of these problems. We must have a holistic approach to these problems, one that addresses the roots and the symptoms of it.
…Programs such as adoption and foster homes are safety net programs. What exactly is a safety net? It is a net that catches a person walking on a tight-rope, or on a trapeze, and grabs them when they fall. But a safety net has special features: first of all it is full of holes; second it is very difficult to walk or stand on; third it is very easy to get caught in, or tangled in, and is often it seem to be a trap; and fourth, it doesn’t help you achieve your goal, it only catches you when you fall.
…If you want to succeed, you have to get back on the trapeze and learn to swing, and this is only achieved through training and practice. Every child who falls into those programs is already in a disadvantaged position and has to overcome many challenges in order to reach their potential.
I want to emphasize three things that are important as we do our work:
First, to understand that we have been given the moral responsibility of caring for future generations, that being here today is not an accident but a call to transform the lives of thousands of children and hence generations. We have been given the public trust that we will not look out for our own interests but the interests of the children and our nation. That perhaps we will never see the fruit of our work completely because this is a work that transcends generations.
Second, we must be clear that seeing a hungry child, helpless, without education, in poverty, ill, should not be norm, it is not right and for that reason we need to create solutions that work. Do not let your heart be hardened. Let us not, the ones called to fix the problem, be insensitive to the suffering of our children.
Third, be creative and be innovative. Do not settle to repeat what others do. Guatemala, Washington D.C. requires specific solutions for each city. Find allies where you have not looked before. I believe that faith-based organizations are a tool that we have not fully utilized. The basis of organizations of faith, you can call it a church, mosque or synagogue, is to serve and love your neighbor.
…Why not put some effort to equip them, train them and give them the necessary funds so they can serve the community?
…A. Dickerson said “Home is where the story begins”. I charge you to lead by example, to go home and love your family, strive for being the role model that they are waiting for and will be eager to follow. I encourage you to fill your heart with compassion and love for your community, to be innovative, not to conform to the past. I encourage you to take upon your shoulders the trust and responsibility that has been given to you by your government, by your community and by destiny, the trust and responsibility to write history one child, one man, and one family at a time.