By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Born and raised in Guatemala, president and CEO of Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children’s Services, Norma Duque, is no stranger to tragedy.

“I come from a middle, upper-class family, politicians of course. My dad was murdered when I was 10-years-old and my mother couldn’t claim the pension because he was kidnapped and murdered, but we never found the body,” Duque recalled.

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Because the body of Duque’s father was never recovered and the family never received his pension, she says her mother, who had never worked, was struggling with seven children.

At 15-years-old, Duque decided to leave Guatemala for the U.S., where she ended up in New York City with barely anything to her name, except determination.

“I knew that I wanted to do something. I wanted to make a difference and I was determined to make it in this country. I wasn’t going to go back,” Duque said.

With help, Duque found her footing and earned a degree from New York University and started off in the banking business. However, it wasn’t long before she found another calling, foster care for Latino Youth.

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“We believe that every child that is in foster care goes through a dark night, but there is always a new sunrise, and if you look at it that way, it’s hope. We all need that. I needed that,” Duque said.

That’s what Duque says she tries to do for the kids that come to her organization, provide a light of hope.

Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children’s Services aims to provide their children and families with love, education and family based concurrent planning services.

According to Duque, who says she’s passionate about what she does, the work is the reward in itself.

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“Not everybody has the privilege of having a job or earning a living that changes peoples lives. We’re very blessed and privileged to do this work,” Duque says.