Sponsor a Child in Guatemala
- ChildFund came to Guatemala: 1964
- Population below poverty line: 56%
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Guatemala is the most populous Central American nation and the heart of the Mayan world. It is a country of great beauty and diversity with stunning landscapes and a rich cultural heritage. It is home to 24 languages and at least that many distinct cultures. At the same time, it is a nation with some of the worst development indicators in Latin America. Guatemala’s context is defined by the country’s complex history: the people of Guatemala have endured a history of dictatorships, coups, and an internal conflict that lasted 36 years and resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people and almost one million displaced.
Even today, impunity, corruption and lack of justice and discrimination define the challenges of much of Guatemala’s population. These factors, typical of a post-conflict society, reinforce the exploitative structures of society and help maintain an unequal social order. Inequalities of income, high levels of violence and lack of access to education are other characteristics of Guatemala’s context.
The Guatemalan government has attempted to address some of the nation’s challenges by empowering local governments and implementing social programming to benefit the poor. These steps have been effective, but are still insufficient in fulfilling the rights of Guatemala’s citizens. Consistent with the nation’s context and history, those whose rights are most likely to remain unfulfilled are indigenous people living in rural areas and particularly females.
“My dad is in agriculture and my mom stays at home. My community doesn’t have any options after sixth grade.”
– Dina, age 13
Poverty affects children more acutely than it affects adults, and can limit a child’s potential for self-development as an adult. ChildFund’s analyses have found that in Guatemala, poverty manifests more acutely at the intersection of three personal characteristics: geography, cultural identity and gender. Children who live in rural areas, identify themselves as indigenous and are female are far more likely to live in poverty than any other group.
To inform its strategic planning, ChildFund Guatemala employed input from a series of consultation processes carried out with children to complement secondary data. In conclusion, acute poverty is fundamentally located by and large in rural and indigenous communities, where income distribution is extremely low.
Lack of Education
An estimated 657,000 boys and girls do not attend school because of a lack of access or because of the cultural acceptance of child labor. Children of Mayan descent are more apt to serve as child laborers where they are often exposed to dangerous substances and are vulnerable to abuse. Guatemala ranks the third highest in child labor statistics among Latin America and Caribbean countries.
We work with community partners to strengthen the quality of education and provide access to learning opportunities for rural children. We also advocate for children’s rights to help protect them against the big business of child labor.
“My dad is in agriculture and my mom stays at home. My community doesn’t have any options after sixth grade,” says Dina, age 13. “I want to continue studying, but my father cannot afford it.”
Emphasis on Life Skills, Child Protection
During the last 20 years, youth gangs and drug trafficking have been the root of increased violence and further corruption. We know that violence is considered by many to be the number one concern in many communities.
To help decrease the use of violence to solve conflicts, as well as help reduce the impact of the narcotics trade, our programs emphasize life skills development and child and youth protection.
A Long-Term Strategy
ChildFund Guatemala has decided that the most appropriate role to play in today’s Guatemalan society is as an agent of social change that seeks the creation of the necessary enabling conditions for protecting and promoting children’s rights.
ChildFund programs will empower participants to make decisions that go against the social norms that reinforce deprivation, vulnerability and exclusion. Areas of focus include:
- Home – Focusing on parents, caregivers and other members of the family
- School – Focusing on parents, teachers, community members and leaders
- Community – Focusing on community organizations and local government
ChildFund Guatemala will ensure the integral development and protection of rural indigenous children, with an emphasis on girls. It also will work in partnership with schools, communities and partners to develop children’s critical thinking, logic and self-confidence. It will achieve this through healthy behaviors, confident communication and active participation. In addition, ChildFund Guatemala will develop and strengthen competencies for life in youth that promote cultural identity, citizenship and economic independence.
Sponsor a child in Guatemala and make a difference in a child’s life.