Juan Carlos Degrandez, Executive Director
Juan is 37 years old and was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in the same neighborhood as the Church that founded the Manuelito Project, Iglesia Santidad Amor Y Vida (Love & Life).
His father left their house when he was 8 years old. He is the youngest of four brothers, one of which has been in heaven since 2016.
He grew up going to Amor Y Vida. He went to a military school at the end of his senior year of high school in 2001. It is at this time he started volunteering with the Manuelito Project and was one of the first people to help get the kids off of the streets and into a transition house. His mother was on the board.
During his first years of being a volunteer with the Manuelito Project he also attended college and got a degree in Computer Science Engineering. In 2005 he became a volunteer at El Sembrador, which is a farm school for underprivileged children in Honduras. During his six months there he worked as the network administrator and IT person. All that he learned there helped him have a better vision for the Manuelito Project.
After this he worked as a translator for work groups that were at the Project. He also worked as a house parent and contributed to the building of some of the first buildings in Talanga.
Around 2012 he took time off from Manuelito but not the kids, they became family, and they were always in touch.
From 2008 to 2013 he worked for his own computer company. From 2014 to 2016 he started working as a social projects supervisor for the government but quit after his brother died and he went through a period of depression, in addition he received a scholarship to study “Start ups and Innovation” in Israel. That trip helped rebuild his relationship with God, after his brother’s death.
He returned to Honduras with the idea of opening another company, but he received an offer from the government to start up the first National Emergency System (911) in Honduras. He started with an empty building and produced one of the finest systems in all of Central America. He oversaw the operational concept and training of 1,000 employees, all of which was done in a record time of 4 months.
In 6 months, he ascended in three positions and became the second in charge (deputy director), having the national operation under his responsibility.
During the 6 years he held this position he was the coordinator of emergency actions of the National Police, Military Police, Fire Fighters, Red Cross and the Family Institution of Honduras. In conjunction with them he was responsible for the rescue of thousands of children from suffering violence from their families, gangs, or exploitation in many ways.
It is in this job that he learned how an “at risk” child is “gold” for the gangs. They are the army that they need, and the reason Juan fought to save them.
During this time, he also studied twice in the National Defense University of Washington and once in the National Police University of South Korea. He also received other trainings in strategic and predictive planning in Columbia, as well as Cybersecurity and Data Analytics in Costa Rica.
In April of 2022 I returned to the Manuelito Project. I am very concerned about the situation here and want to help in everyway I can. My wife, Dyrian, is a professional in social development who graduated from school in Israel for Development of Young Leaders and Fundraising for Social Programs. They have a beautiful son named Daniel, who they believe is a miracle as they were told by the doctors that Dyrian only had about a 10% chance to get pregnant.
We are doing out best to rebuild the Manuelito Project. We know that it is God’s project. It can save kids from the streets, give them an education and hope for the future and teach them about God’s word.
Being a kid that grew up without a dad makes Juan remember that every day there is a kid that needs his help.