In 1965, a 29-year-old youth director from Houston, Texas, named Guy Bevil, led a team of teenagers into rural Honduras to fight a growing polio epidemic. Serving communities in remote areas of the country, this group of 181 youth and 36 adults helped protect thousands of people from the crippling disease and established friendships that crossed borders. Their service had a positive impact on the lives of these young people, and as a result, they returned more mature, culturally aware, and inspired to continue serving communities at home and abroad.
That was the first trip of what would eventually become AMIGOS, an international nonprofit organization that inspires and builds young leaders through collaborative community development and immersion in cross-cultural experiences. AMIGOS has grown and evolved since that first trip, now operating programs in 17 countries over the last 50 years.
AMIGOS facilitates opportunities throughout the Americas for program participants to collaborate with youth from the US and Latin America, for the purpose of designing and leading community-owned projects. AMIGOS works with local partners to identify host communities that are passionate and committed to working with their participants on meaningful projects. They then recruit an equal number of high school and college students from Latin America to work alongside participants from the United States every year. Together with teens and young adults their own age, participants design and lead community development projects alongside the host community, which owns and participates in the effort.
An important part of their model is that their programs are youth-led, thus providing an opportunity for young people to develop leadership and interpersonal skills that stay with them forever. AMIGOS unique training program prepares participants in cultural understanding, health and safety, community development practices, leadership, and team building. The success of more than 27,000 alumni supports the belief that young people have the power to rise to any challenge and make a difference.