Patrick Atkinson and small boy in Guatemala both reacting to hearing a volcanic blastPatrick Atkinson is an American author, educator, and human rights activist. Mr. Atkinson initially worked war zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction in several nations in Central America during the 1980’s. After working on human trafficking issues in Southeast Asia, he returned to Central America in 1991 and became the founder of several charities. Patrick Atkinson is the author/co-author of several books, and the recipient of several national and international human rights awards.

Early Life

Patrick John Atkinson was raised in Bismarck, North Dakota and attended Minnesota State University, Moorhead, during which time he worked at the Center for Parents and Children as a crisis line operator counseling runaways and victims of domestic abuse, homelessness, and sexual assault. It was from these crisis calls that Mr. Atkinson learned about contemporary human trafficking in America, a shaping force for his later years. He graduated magna cum laude in 1981 from MSUM with degrees in Social Work and Criminal Justice. After graduation in 1981, Patrick turned down lucrative corporate job offers to work with runaways, prostitutes, and gang members in New York City Hell’s Kitchen until 1983, when he learned about the civil conflicts that affected Central America. Mr. Atkinson resigned his position in New York City and moved to Central America where he began a twenty-five-year international career in war-zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction.

Current Roles and Charities

The GOD’S CHILD Project
In 1991, Mr. Atkinson founded The GOD’S CHILD Project. The GOD’S CHILD Project is a nonpolitical international humanitarian organization that develops and administers health, education, family foster care, community development, and human rights protection systems in the world’s poorest nations.

Patrick Atkinson is the Executive Director of The GOD’S CHILD Project, which currently cares for and educates 5,000+ orphaned and abandoned boys and girls, and provides education, medical care, legal aide, development skills, and human rights to 8,700 widowed, single, and abandoned mothers and their dependents worldwide.

La Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados
Patrick Atkinson founded La Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados in 1991 and remains the Consulting Director. La Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados is a Guatemala-registered nonprofit charity dedicated to breaking individuals, families and communities out of poverty through education, support, and formation. The programs currently provide assistance to over 12,000 individuals in Guatemala.

Known collective and informally as El Proyecto, or The Project, Nuestros Ahijados operates several schools, the Atkinson Family Medical Clinics, Casa Jackson for Malnourished Infants, the Bob and Joan Scheel Academic and Vocational Training Center, the Santa Madre Homeless Shelter, the ServiceTeam Experience (which brings individual and group volunteers from around the world to Central America to build homes, provide medical care, work in schools, and engage in disaster relief.

Nuestros Ahijados is the Central American base of operations for the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons.

The Dreamer Center is the Project’s Guatemalan base of operations, and is located on the north side of Antigua Guatemala.

Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons
In 2001, Mr. Atkinson founded the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP). ITEMP is a nonpolitical, nonsectarian international program that works with the United States Department of State, US Embassies worldwide, and local and national governments to prevent international human trafficking. It also engages in victim interdiction and rescue services as well as legal assistance, return to home community, and social reinsertion support. Mr. Atkinson remains the Executive Director of ITEMP.

Previous programs

ACA de Latin America
From 1983 – 1989, Mr. Atkinson engaged in war conflict resolution and post-war reconstruction while founding and directing the ACA programs in the Guatemalan Highlands and Guatemala City, Mexico, Honduras, and Panama, in which he created a network of crisis shelters, clinics, group homes, and legal support centers for war orphans and street children. He also conducted significant pre-program establishment groundwork in Columbia, Haiti, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Covenant International Foundation Southeast Asia
From 1989 – 1990, Patrick Atkinson accepted a position as Executive Director of the Covenant International Foundation (CIF) Southeast Asia to work with several charities and government agencies to document forced labor and sexual human trafficking in targeted nations. Based in Singapore, Mr. Atkinson traveled to nations in the geopolitical area crisscrossed by Japan to India, and Pakistan to Indonesia. He conducted primary interviews with the US Embassy, national government officials and community leaders, and conducted human trafficking/forced labor research in the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and India.

Recognitions & Accomplishments

Mr. Atkinson has been the recipient of hundreds of regional and international human rights awards. Among these are:

  • Guatemalan Congressional Medal of Honor, 2017
  • Goodwill Ambassador for Peace for the nation of Guatemala, 2007
  • Knighthood from the Spanish Legion, 2017
  • Humanitarian Award from the Bismarck City Human Rights Commission, 2010
  • In 2000 and 2001, Mr. Atkinson was invited by the United Nations to develop child development and educational programs for street children left orphaned by the rampaging AIDS crisis in East and South Africa.
  • Mr. Atkinson holds a Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University and is on the faculty of three American universities.

Books and Filmography

Mr. Atkinson is the author/co-author to eight books: Leadership Defined 2005; Conversations On Faith, 2004; Conversations on Success, 2017; Amazing Grace, 2017; Service-Oriented Field Experience (“SOFE”): A Fusion of Distance and Service Learning in Accelerated Degree Programs, 2017; Message for My Child, 2017; Mensaje Para Mi Hijo, 2017; and Inspired Woman Magazine, 2017

Patrick Atkinson is the subject of the biography, The Dream Maker, by Monica Hannan (April 2006). This widely-selling book focuses on Mr. Atkinson’s childhood and a near-death experience, his years in Central America engaged in war-zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction, and his founding of The GOD’S CHILD Project and Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons.

Mr. Atkinson plays himself in the international award-winning film, The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez. This film received international acclaim including winning the Adolf Grimme Awards (Germany 2008) and Swiss Film Prize (Switzerland 2007), and nominations for Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema – Documentary (Sundance Film Festival 2006), and Film Award in Gold – Outstanding Documentary (German Film Awards 2007).