Victor Hugo Hernandez Luche, Hugo for short, remembers well his years of writing letters to his sponsor. So much so, his hand trembled with emotion and muscle memory as he wrote his dedication in his graduate thesis. “To Common Hope,” Hugo began, “Thank you . . . for letting me dream.” This was more than a decade after Hugo graduated from high school, and more than two decades since he was first sponsored by Common Hope. Still, Hugo remembered the people and the process that made his “difficult but beautiful education” possible.
One of our very first sponsored students in Antigua, Hugo graduated from high school in 2003 with a degree in elementary education, and he quickly landed a job as a teacher, both great feats. He taught for five years at Common Hope’s pilot school, working with students in grades 1-3 who were struggling. At the school, Hugo says he acquired many tools for being a good teacher, including the creative curriculum techniques used at New Hope School, and opportunities to attend a number of teacher trainings. Hugo says he also learned “the spirit of serving others” at Common Hope, something he believes everyone should cultivate.
But Hugo didn’t stop with these teaching accomplishments. He continued to seek new ways to help others. Over the following decade, he went on to pursue a law degree, attending college with the help of Common Hope. And in 2010, he moved on to a new and challenging position with Semillas de Amor, a home for children who have been abandoned or orphaned. “My current position is totally different,” Hugo says, “but I’m always motivated to make positive changes in the lives of children.”
Last fall, Hugo accomplished two new feats. He finished his law degree and he was promoted to director of Semillas de Amor. “I couldn’t believe it — it was too motivating, too exciting. It was like a dream. There were many people competing for the position that had more experience. … But I knew the organization and the kids, which gave me an advantage. Still, I think a whole night passed before I could believe that they had chosen me.”
Hugo’s new job shares a value with Common Hope in instilling leadership in the youth it serves. The mission of Semillas de Amor is to raise and educate thoughtful, compassionate leaders with excellent critical thinking skills and a commitment to social justice and civic responsibility. They focus on character and academic excellence in a creative, safe and nurturing environment. It seems a great fit for Hugo’s skills and background, and Hugo is clearly making the most of it.
And all along this career journey, Hugo has remained mindful of the opportunities that got him where he is today. This was top of mind when he wrote the dedication to his law school thesis, where he included a thank-you to Common Hope and his sponsor. “I’m so grateful to Common Hope and my sponsor Sharon Harren,” says Hugo. “I never had the opportunity to meet her personally, only through letters, and I would like to thank her for all her support. I’m grateful to Common Hope for the great administration of their resources—I couldn’t ask for more than they gave me.”
Hugo continues to think of way to pay it forward, too. In the future, he hopes to have his own law office “to help people that need legal assistance but cannot afford to pay a lawyer. I want to support them,” he says. Hugo also wants to teach classes for law students, to help them pass the Guatemala bar exam. Hugo’s great achievements over the past decades bode well for accomplishing these new dreams in the years ahead.
Congratulations to Hugo and his sponsor Sharon for the accomplishments made possible by hard work, generosity, and persistence. Hugo’s thesis dedication is printed below in its entirety.
“To Common Hope:
Thank you for all your support, in my difficult but beautiful education process.
Thank you for letting me dream.
Thank you for believing and trusting in me.
Thank you for being an organization that transforms the future of Guatemalans so that we have the desire to improve ourselves.
Writing these words makes me remember writing letters to my sponsors to thank them for their help. My hands still tremble with emotion thinking that there are many people that worried and cared for me so much.
My most sincere gratitude, I really don’t have a way to thank you for all you did for me. I can only say what my grandparents used to say: ‘May God bless you and repay you!’”