Young Leaders in Action

November 27, 2019

2019 Impact

Our 2019 Students

Letter from the Young Leaders in Action Coordinator

Each and every day we feel even more excited about the students in our Young Leaders in Action program. These students are the future of Nicaragua, and it is an honor to walk alongside them in their pursuit of education and in their personal and professional development.  

We know that education can change the course of someone’s life, and we have seen proof of that over and over again through our program. Marbely is the first member of her family to graduate from college, and Chico who is leading our entire infrastructure team at only 26 years old, are just two examples of graduates making an impact in the world through their education. Check out the messages from our graduates below to be inspired by stories just like theirs.  

You fuel this grand vision that we have for the Young Leaders in Action. A vision for a better life, a vision for them to receive an education, and a vision for them to achieve their dreams. Our dream is to see these students, and many more in the years to come, continue to be the present and future of Nicaragua. As you read through these highlights, know that you have changed the course of these students lives.  

Gema Canales
Young Leaders in Action Coordinator 

Two Perspectives of Our Program

Todd and Melvis

Todd and Melvis

Sponsor and Student

Meet Todd and Melvis. Todd is from Atlanta, Georgia and Melvis is from El Guasimal, a community in northern Nicaragua. Both are engineers by trade. The two initially met through the Amigos for Christ scholarship program, and what has come from that is so much bigger than either of them could have imagined. Melvis and Todd have grown to create such a beautiful friendship, where they encourage one another and dream for one another. We asked the two of them to write about their experience: 

Todd’s Perspective:

My family initially got involved with Amigos for Christ after my wife Shari started volunteering at the Buford office. She quickly learned about the Young Leaders in Action scholarship program and wanted to get involved. After seeing Melvis’s name and his interest in engineering, my wife Shari and I knew that we wanted to sponsor him because we are both engineers. That was about a year before our first trip to Nicaragua. We didn’t know at that time how big of an impact Melvis would make with his engineering knowledge. 

Our whole family got to meet Melvis in 2015 when we made our first trip to Nicaragua. When I went back in 2017, he was already leading the team building the Model School at La Chuscada and our team got to work with him for a few days. We have been communicating regularly since then. I was able to spend time with him here in Atlanta when he visited in 2017, and he honored me on my last trip to Nica by taking me to his house to meet his wife, his mother, and his precious baby son.  

We want Melvis to reach his full potential and we can already see our dreams for him coming true. Because of Melvis‘ talent, ambition, and hard work, he will touch many more lives in Nicaragua than we ever will. He is a major Bright Spot on the infrastructure teams whether he is working on Clean Air Kitchens, Modern Bathrooms, or schools. Our hope is that our support has made his college experience a little easier. We are very happy to be his sponsors and his friends. 

Melvis’ Perspective:

I met Todd in 2015 when he and his family came on a trip. This was a very impactful experience because I was able to meet and hug the person who believed in my future and supported me before I had ever even met them. From that experience, we bonded and would connect on every trip Todd and his family would come on.  

Some of my favorite moments in the scholarship program have been the opportunities for Todd and me to work together. Todd came on his trip to not only serve the people of Nicaragua but also to spend time with me, to learn about my family, and share knowledge as an engineer. Working together on the La Chuscada school was one of my favorite experiences. Another special memory is the day I brought Todd to my house to meet my family and introduce him to my son, Uriel. It was a powerful experience to invite Todd in to learn more about who I am and where I come from. It meant a lot to me that he would spend this time with my family, and it continues to mean a lot to me how much he cares about me as a person. 

My relationship with Todd is not just one of a student and sponsor, truly we are friends. I know that he and his family are wonderful people with a great hearts worthy of admiration. They are an example for me to follow. I am always praying for Todd and his family, praying with confidence and faith that God will continue to pour many blessings upon them. I pray that our friendship can continue to grow, even after I graduate, and I pray that they can continue helping young people fulfill their dreams, just like they did for me. 

2019 Highlights

Leadership Development Meetings

These meetings promote student growth in leadership and responsibility. We encourage students to dream about transforming their communities through their impact and different projects.

Volunteer Hours Completed

We want our students to see and meet the needs that exist in their communities and in the world around them. Students have the freedom to choose how they want to serve. It is important to us that they learn the importance of service. 

Students Participating in Young Leaders in Action

This number continues to grow!

New Students are Joining Next Year

This was a new goal for our program! 

Students Graduated

2 from University and 8 from High School!  Let’s Celebrate this amazing achievement! 

Meetings in Nicaragua with Scholarship Students and their Sponsors

We want to create meaningful experiences for students and their sponsors to connect and grow in friendship. 


We want our young people to grow in their faith and be a part of a community that supports one another. 

Career Fair @ Amigos!

We want to show students that the world is full of tons of opportunities and careers!  

Messages from Our Graduates


Tomas Caceres

"I am so thankful that God blessed me to be a part of the Young leaders in Action Program. I am beyond grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received through this program. I was able to finish my high school and college degree through Young Leaders in Action. I am a different person today because of these opportunities. My future and destiny have changed and now I have a better vision for my life. Right now, I am excited for the ways in which I will continue to grow and shape the future of my career. Thank you for making this possible, I hope others will be able to receive this support just like me because it has been completely life-changing."

Marbely Carrazco

"The Young Leaders in Action scholarship program helped me achieve one of my biggest dreams. For 10 years, due to the lack of resources in my family I was unable to go to school. But when I learned about the Amigos for Christ scholarship program, everything changed. I was finally able to pursue my dream of receiving a degree in English. I am the first person in my family to receive a college degree. I am so grateful, first to God, but also to my scholarship sponsor who made this possible, and to the Young Leaders in Action program. My sponsor and the program have not only helped me financially, but also gave me both moral and spiritual support to grow into a successful and well-rounded professional. This program has helped so many young people, including myself who would never otherwise have the opportunity to pursue an education and achieve their dreams. I am so thankful!"
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Walter Lopez

"I come from a family with limited resources and I’ll never forget in 2013 when my parents and I realized that we wouldn't be able to cover the costs of my university. I remember feeling crushed. It was our dream for me to be able to graduate from college. We live in Monserrat, the same neighborhood as Amigos and when we heard about the scholarship program, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to apply. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program. This changed everything. I can’t express my gratitude for the opportunity I was given to be able to achieve my dream, first to God but then to the generous people who make these scholarships possible. I studied Social Development because I wanted to be able to serve the most vulnerable and help them to experience transformation in their lives. Since graduating, I get to use my education to serve others working for a nonprofit."

Hector Mairena

"Thanks to God and the Young Leaders in Action program, I had the opportunity to graduate from college. Now I’m an agronomist, and just like the crops grow, I also continue to grow. I have developed so much as a person and professional over the last few years. I get to work in community development now and work alongside families as they continue to grow and achieve their dreams. I am very passionate about serving families and am thankful for the base that the scholarship program gave me to be able to do so well."

Francisco Desbas

"When I was first accepted into the University of Engineering, I faced many obstacles as to how I would be able to make this dream a reality due to financial resources and long travel distances. But God blessed me greatly through the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Young Leaders in Action scholarship program. With this program, those obstacles no longer determined my future. Now, I am leading an infrastructure team and it is my responsibility to provide opportunities and encourage my team to develop their own potential. I have learned this from this scholarship program. Just as you have invested in me, I too want to invest in those around me."

Nelly Zelaya

"I am so grateful to be a part of the Young Leaders in Action scholarship program. It has been a huge help in my pursuit of my university degree. Today, thanks to this support, I can satisfactorily say that I have achieved my goal of finishing my degree. I currently have an amazing job as an accountant where I'm able to gain experience and develop myself as a professional."