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Leonel Dubon

Guatemala , Class of 2011

Leonel Dubon

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A heart for children and a tireless devotion has kept Mr. Leonel Dubon providing aftercare services to trafficked and at-risk youth for years.

He began working with homeless children during the early 1990s as the program director for Casa Alianza Guatemala. But in January, 2009, after over a decade of providing services to children in need, the organization had to close its doors in Guatemala because they did not have enough funding. It was that year that Mr. Dubon, not content to sit by and watch children slip through the cracks, founded his NGO El Refugio de las Ninez. They were operational by 2010, and provided shelter for 51 girls. After a volcanic eruption and a tropical storm that left the shelter roofless, Mr. Dubon used his network of contacts through the NGO world in Guatemala to find other places for each girl to stay during the renovations. He opened another shelter in 2011. The second shelter is aimed at adolescents up to the age of 24.

That year, 2011, his organization was able to provide residence to 108 child victims at the two shelters, attempting to help them recover and re-integrate into society. The shelters offer a variety of services, including healthcare, counseling, various types of educational programs, and other recreational, as well as spiritual, activities. Vocational training is available as well; they train the children how to bake, and how to sew. Mr. Dubon continues to spread awareness about human trafficking throughout the countryside through outreach programs. His organization seeks out victims throughout the country, and provides whatever services they need. He has also implemented an innovative foster-care program for the children that they do not have room for in the shelter. He has presented on this issue, and spoke about it, in a variety of local and international forums.

In the 2014 TIP Report, Guatemala was listed as a Tier 2 Country. It is a source, destination, and transit country for both sex trafficking and forced labor. Some foreign tourists come to Guatemala for sex tourism, or child sex tourism. Guatemalan girls are exploited throughout Latin America, and girls from other Latin American countries are found in trafficking situations in Guatemala. While the government has done very well in providing more services to minor victims, adult victims do not have many services or support available, and the issue of forced labor is not as addressed.

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