After ten years of serving this country as a U.S. army 1-28 infantryman, PCC student Tomas Domingo has yet to stop doing everything in his power to help those in need. While working towards his degree in political science, he is also busy hashing out a plan to create a cost-free school for the children in his hometown in Guatemala, where families are stricken with poverty and the line between education and financial burden is non-existent.
Born in the United States but raised in Guatemala, Domingo returned to the states at seventeen years old with nothing and no one with him but his determination and what he could carry on his back. Since then, he’s lived in a total of six states while pursuing his goal of getting a quality education and making a life for himself.
He joined the military as an infantryman at the age of 21, serving two tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I just woke up one morning and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna join the military,’” Domingo said .. “That was it. There was nothing else to think about. I’m very proud to serve. It’s one of those things I’m very honored to talk about.”
After nearly a year out from service, Domingo has been focusing on his studies, determined to move forward with his education as quickly as possible. By taking classes throughout his military career, he will soon graduate with his Associate Degree in political science after spending only two semesters at PCC.
“I feel like I have a responsibility to my community,” Domingo said. “Where I came from, it’s a very a difficult environment where poverty is around 24/7. I believe getting into political science will help me evolve in a field where I feel like I can make a difference in my community and other communities.”
After graduation, Domingo plans to attend Pepperdine University, where he is currently on the waiting list for admission. He plans to use his major to help as many people as he can, and perhaps become an attorney one day.
Aside from being a full-time student and family man, Domingo has also been hard at work with his own project to provide aid to those living in poverty in his hometown Zacueleu Central Zona 9 in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. He created the organization Korazon Kakao in December 2015, through which he lifts some financial burden from children whose parents are often faced with the choice between school supplies and food.
“Korazon Kakao’s mission is to provide opportunity and knowledge,” Domingo said. “It’s an opportunity to help others, mainly children, evolve and continue to pursue a way of living. I’m aware that it’s a long process, however, I know it’s not impossible. Knowing the kind of determination that I have, it’s going to happen.”
Domingo’s main goal for the organization is to create an entirely cost-free, quality school for the children in his hometown. Now he is focusing on doing what he can to provide them with school supplies for the beginning of the school year, a costly necessity that causes many families to go hungry.
“What I’m trying to accomplish every year is to take school supplies to a lot of these kids in this community, because they cannot afford it at the beginning of the school year,” Domingo said. “It’s either they buy school supplies, or they eat. You buy supplies, you don’t have money to put food on the table. This whole project is meant to take that weight off their shoulders for a while.”
During this past December and January, Domingo traveled to Huehuetenango for three weeks to give students packs of school supplies, which he funded out of his own pocket. He was able to successfully help around 300 children, though his expectations of the need in his town were fairly low and many needs were unfortunately unmet.
Huehuetenango lies in a rural area of Guatemala, which would otherwise go unnoticed by the rest of the world if it wasn’t for the ancient Mayan temples found there. The artifacts often attract tourists from all over, though the parts of the town littered with poverty are often out of sight and mind.
Growing up in that kind of poverty himself, Domingo left Guatemala to the United States with a vow to someday go back to help in any way he can.
“I didn’t get that much help when I was young,” Domingo said. “I know what it’s like. I feel that my purpose is to show people who don’t have any help that there is actually someone out there to help them in any way.”
“When I left Guatemala, I knew I needed to go back to help in some way. I didn’t know then how I would, but now I know. If I’m able to open up a school at no cost, that will help a lot in a big way,” Domingo continued.
This past trip of his to Guatemala was only the first of many. Domingo plans to go back at the start of every school year, hopefully with more resources and help from the Guatemalan community of Los Angeles.
“I didn’t think the community was going to react the way it did,” Domingo said. “I didn’t think a lot of people were going to show up, but it happened. And now I know for sure that next year I’m going to do it more organized, with more resources and support.”
Domingo was welcomed with open arms in his childhood community, with many of the teachers at his old elementary school Escuela Rural Mixta Zaculeu Central remembering him and thanking him for coming back.
“To see the community react with a sense of joy and happiness is very fulfilling,” Domingo said. “It motivates me to do even more.”
His current focus is to help the students at Escuela Rural Mixta Zaculeu Central, but he hopes to soon have the means to spread the love to all of the schools in Huehuetenango, as well as open his dream school.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have food on the table and a roof over our heads, we should be able to help out others,” Domingo said. “That is my legacy.”