NDG in short

Niños de Guatemala (NDG) provides underprivileged children with an education. NDG runs two primary schools and a secondary school which house over 500 Guatemalan children that would otherwise not have been able to go to school. The organization is self-sustainable due to several business initiatives including a Spanish school.
NDG was founded in 2006 by brother and sister Marten (1982) and Annemiek Dresen (1984), and their friend Sander Wirken (1985). NDG is an international foundation with donors from across the globe. Your donation directly affects change, and contributes to school construction materials, classroom materials, school meals; and the salaries of teachers, social workers, psychologists, and support staff.


Niños de Guatemala empowers communities in marginalized areas of Guatemala. We achieve this by providing education that extends beyond the traditional classroom across three levels: students, their families, and the larger community.


NDG has always felt that our programs belong to those they serve. Our projects are directed and run by Guatemalan staff, which helps to create jobs and foster a sense of local ownership. Each school is responsible for developing its own curriculum and afterschool programs as well as managing its finances. NDG’s role is to provide training, monitoring and evaluation.


We aim to be sustainable both at the organizational and community level through initiating and supporting social business activities and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit. Within five years of launching a school, our team in Guatemala must be able to raise 100% of its operational costs.  To help with this goal, we’ve opened two social businesses in Antigua.


In 2006, our founder, Marten Dresen came to Guatemala to learn Spanish and volunteer with a non-profit in Ciudad Vieja. During his trip, he befriended a girl named Mirna from the local community. After noticing that she was always barefoot, Marten decided to give her a pair of shoes. Mirna’s gratitude touched him so deeply that he was moved to do more for Guatemalan children from low-income families, realising that a relatively small investment could make a huge difference in their lives.

After returning to Holland, Marten allied with his friend Sander Wirken and his sister Annemiek. They believed that the key to a better future for children like Mirna was access to quality education and as a result, Niños de Guatemala was born. The organization was founded in the Netherlands and the Dutch branch started its fundraising activities. In 2007 Annemiek moved to Guatemala to start the organization there, together with Antigua local Carmen Paniagua. Sander joined them in 2008 in preparation for the construction of the first school.


  • 2009 – We open our first elementary school, Nuestro Futuro, in partnership with the local community
  • 2012 – Based on the success of the first school, we open a second elementary school, El Porvenir, in nearby San Lorenzo
  • 2014 – The first students graduate from Nuestro Futuro and construction begins on a middle school to accommodate them.
  • 2015 – The middle school, El Básico, opens in Ciudad Vieja to continue the secondary education of our students.

Two of Mirna’s siblings are currently enrolled in Niños de Guatemala. Marten, Sander, Annemiek and Carmen are all still actively involved in NDG’s activities.

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