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CNN Hero: Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes

Updated 1:59 PM ET, Tue April 21, 2015
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While working as a teacher in Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes saw his students struggling with drugs and gangs -- issues that his own generation faced as well. So at 23, he turned part of his family's home into a community center and started Los Patojos, a nonprofit that has become a haven for young people. JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN
Los Patojos, which translates to the Little Ones, has helped more than 1,000 children. The program offers free classes, tutoring and meals, as well as low-cost medical care. JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN
The group's feeding program provides a nutritious meal to more than 100 children each day. For many of them, it is the only meal they will have all day, Romero Fuentes said. JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN
"I created a safe place for them to realize that they actually can change bad aspects in their lives and their community," said Romero Fuentes, now 30. "I wanted to give them a better present in order to attain a brighter future." JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN
At the main center, painted with colorful murals and quotes, children are exposed to a number of creative outlets. They take classes in dance, music, photography, theater and juggling, and they often put on performances for one another. JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN
"I love my city and my country. I want to inspire these kids," Romero Fuentes said. "They are the ones in charge of writing the new history in Guatemala." JUAN ARREDONDO/CNN