History & Mission


In November 2008, after two migrants by the name of Karen del Aguila and Willy Barreno came up with the idea one day in Central Park, New York. Karen migrated with her family to New York at the age of six, while Willy originally migrated to Wisconsin at the age of twenty-three.

The realization that Guatemalans should not have to migrate to the United States in order to fulfill their dreams of prosperity and success motivated and inspired the reality of DESGUA and our work today.

DESGUA has been working in the highlands of Guatemala to promote economic and educational opportunities in pursuit of the Guatemalan Dream. 


DESGUA focuses on changing the root causes of forced migration by developing more options for Guatemalans to stay connected to their homes, and their roots.

DESGUA works to bridge local and international community networks creating fundamental economic and educational changes in order to pursue a dignified way of life for Guatemalan migrants and Maya communities.

Considering that most Guatemalans are of Maya descent, and most Guatemalan migrants still have a connection to the Maya culture, it is paramount that we reflect on recent historic memory and precolonial teachings in our work for social change.

We are not illusional about the complex reality that involves migration. We cannot and are not trying to force anyone to stay. We are simply trying to give the people of Guatemala options.