Onelio – Summer 2011 Indigenous Leader Intern

We first met Onelio in the fall of 2009 through the program Building Better Futures. From our first interactions with Onelio, we knew there was something different about this kid. He had a spirit of determination, a heart of service and a deep love for God. Slowly, as we came to know more of Onelio’s story we were even more impressed by who he was and who he was becoming.

Onelio is not your ordinary college student. He has fought for all that he has accomplished, and he will be the first to tell you that it has only happened by God’s grace. He walked to the United States at the age of 13 to seek work in order to support his mother and siblings back in Guatemala. By the age of 14, he made it from Los Angeles to Alexandria, VA and was working to support himself and save a bit of money to send back home to Guatemala.

  • With no English background and zero middle school education, he decided to enroll himself in the 9th grade. Onelio woke up every morning to take the school bus and after school would ride public transportation for an hour to his job. He got off work at midnight, rode the bus home only to stay up until 3 AM studying. Then he would wake up and do it all over again just a few hours later. This worked for Onelio for a time until school personnel began to figure out that he was on his own as a minor. Onelio was enrolled in the foster care system and over time, has received his residency in the US. He graduated from TC Williams High School with a 3.7 GPA and is currently a full-time student at Northern Virginia Community College (one of the best community colleges in the country) where he is getting mostly A’s and a few B’s his 1styear in the program (a more detailed depiction of Onelio’s story from the Washington Post – Guatemalan Oliver Twist).

    In addition to full-time study at NVCC, Onelio began volunteering with Kids Club in the fall of 2010. It was love at first sight on both sides. Onelio came to Kids Club multiple days a week, he volunteered in the office, he did some of his own outreach efforts to the students, he helped with the InterVarsity Spring Break trips, he volunteered as a weekly in-home homework buddy, he joined the newly formed community forum, volunteers on the fundraising team and served as an incredible networker on behalf of Casa Chirilagua. Even more than that, Onelio became a part of our lives and a part of our family.

    In our May newsletter we sent out a request for donations to hire two young people as Indigenous Leader Interns. Great Commission Community Church responded to that request by pledging enough support to hire our first intern, Mr. Onelio Mencho.  In addition, GCCC will provide a mentor who will meet with Onelio regularly to provide spiritual encouragement and guidance. Onelio’s responsibilities for the summer will include: assisting with the college intern training week, serving daily at the Kids Club summer program, conducting a research project on the population and demographics of the Chirilagua neighborhood, event planning with the fundraising team, and collecting oral surveys of each Casa Chirilagua family. We are so excited to have him as a part of out staff this summer. Please pray for Onelio’s summer with us that it will be a time of spiritual and intellectual growth. Please also pray for him as he will be returning to Guatemala at the end of July for the first time in six years. We are so blessed to have him as a part of this organization and a part of our lives. We can only hope that each of you will have an opportunity to meet him and be as inspired by him as we are.

    We would like to invest in one more indigenous leader this summer by hiring a part-time intern; however, we need to raise $800 in the next week to make it happen.  Please email dawnielle@casachirilagua.org if you would like to invest in a young leader of Chirilagua.