HELPS International: Improving Lives in Central America

Good afternoon, you hardworking bumble bees! I hope you’re over your Monday blues and are being (somewhat?) productive members of society. And if you’re not there yet, here’s a cute baby sloth channelling her inner you:

sleepy sloth

Now that I’ve got your undivided attention, I want to talk to y’all about one of our fantastic partner organizations.

HELPS international is an US-based nonprofit that if fighting extreme poverty, providing high-quality medical care, AND promoting education in the rural areas of Central America. That’s A LOT of good stuff!

HELPS’ mission is to provide enduring programs of practical, social and spiritual value to the people in Central America, particularly in rural Guatemala. The organization believes that the high levels of poverty throughout our hemisphere render development unsustainable and threaten the individual and the stability of these developing countries.

The organization strives for permanent change through its programs, which promote mutual respect, responsibility and partnership within the local infrastructure. Ultimately, HELPS believes that individuals, institutions, government and the private sector working together can, and must, help create prosperity and stability.

HI2What’s the story?

HELPS’ journey started back in the early 1980s, during a time of great internal conflict in Guatemala. Stephen Miller, in an effort to help the violence-ridden country, travelled to the violence-ridden country on a fact-finding trip.

While in Quiché, Miller met Paul Townsend, a translator who was giving the government briefings in the area. Townsend and Miller developed a personal relationship and began working to help the people in the Quiché area.

Their initial work centered on aid programs, such as distributing food and blankets. It soon developed into building crude homes for widows and implementing dental health programs.

Thus, HELPS was officially born (read: incorporated) in 1984, and its programs have since grown and built upon an integrated developmental philosophy. The organization has kept its commitment to assisting rural populations in Central America through programs in education and literacy, medicine, and projects of practical, social concern and spiritual value.

Their Programs



HELPS’ Partners in Education Program (PEP) sponsors the education of K-6th grade students at HELPS’ William M. Botnan School in Santa Avelina, Guatemala. For $42 per month, or $500 per year, anyone can sponsor a child. This money covers the costs of the student’s books, school supplies, highly trained teachers, and a safe and healthy learning environment. Secondary Education Scholarships are also available for 7th-12th grade boarding school students for $1,200 per year.

Economic Development

HELPS economic program is centered around creating wealth and stability through the rural poor’s primary business interest: agriculture. In collaboration with corporate partners DISAGRO and MOSAIC, HELPS’ Agriculture Program (AP) has introduced new technologies and methodologies, as well as provided loans for fertilizers and other tools, to smallholder farmers in villages across Guatemala. The results of the AP have been incredibly positive. In fact, HELPS has seen audited production levels increase by more than 300% in the villages where their AP was implemented.



HELPS International has developed a system of volunteer medical teams to address the healthcare crisis in rural areas of Guatemala. These teams are comprised of about 70 members, including physicians, surgeons, nurses and other support staff. HELPS’ teams are organized by a system of local chapters throughout the United States. Together, the physicians from the US and the staff at the local facilities help provide comprehensive care to all their patients. HELPS medical teams are fully equipped to provide excellent health care and, after years of service, have a better understanding of the country’s healthcare crisis.

HI5ONIL Products

HELPS has helped developed the ONIL product line, which changes the way families live and has become one of the “pillars” of HELPS poverty reduction efforts. These products include fire-containing and toxin-reducing stoves, as well as sustainable water filters.

How to get involved

There are plenty of ways to support the amazing work of this fabulous organization. Learn more about the different ways you can give back to HELPS here!

Alternatively, if you’re getting hitched, you could create a charitable wedding registry to support HELPS healthcare initiative in Guatemala!


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