Toronja Academy

Guatemala City, Guatemala

In conjunction with Vidas Plenas in Guatemala City, Lemonade International works to “break the cycles of poverty, violence and injustice through education, gang prevention, and community relief for the people of La Limonada.”

La Limonada is the largest — and one of the most dangerous — slums in Central America. The work that Lemonade International does on the ground caught the attention of Forest Hill Waxhaw. When the Waxhaw campus launched in 2014, Lemonade was quickly chosen as the partner organization in which the Waxhaw campus would work.

There are 10 neighborhoods in La Limonada. The neighborhoods are run by gangs, which means crossing from one neighborhood to the other is not permitted. This rule is not limited to adults; it affects the children — and their ability to receive an education — as well.

Tita Evertsz is the founder of Vidas Plenas. She understands that in order to transform a community, you must first change a generation. By providing a place for kids to come learn, be cared for, prayed for, and fed, these kids get a chance to break the cycle of poverty, violence, and injustice while they are young. Evertsz has a vision for 10 academies to be built, one in every neighborhood.

As the Waxhaw campus began to grow and plans to build a permanent facility got underway, another important project also began: to build a fourth academy in La Limonada.

When Forest Hill sent its first team down in February 2016, the neighborhood for the fourth academy was already chosen, but in order to proceed, funds were needed. Forest Hill was able to provide financial resources to help them secure the land and begin building. As Forest Hill was building its fourth campus at Waxhaw, we were also helping Vidas Plenas build their fourth academy!

Through this generosity, the staff of Lemonade and Vidas Plenas are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a place where many people don’t want to go. Thanks to the people of Forest Hill, we are able to help bring the hope that Jesus offers to those who need it the most!

Without Forest Hill Church, the Toronja Academy would not have been possible. It would not have opened its doors in July, and it would not currently be reaching 62 children and employing 7 Guatemalans with plans and hopes of hiring two more teachers for two additional classrooms soon. In addition to the financial support, we received true partnership. Brothers and sisters offering prayer, wisdom, teams of people ready to follow Jesus into this community, and child sponsors who make the program available to all of the children all year.

Through you, an entire neighborhood living in darkness will see, hear, and experience the embodied love of Jesus. They will know Christ because of you and through you. It is a joy for us at Lemonade International, to act as a conduit for your love and generosity.

Because of you, children are experiencing transformation. They are choosing to not
follow the footsteps of the gangs, but instead are following Jesus into full and eternal life.”

 — Katie Hoiland
Director of Strategic Advancement, Lemonade International


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