Guatemala

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Guatemala is the most populous Central American nation and the heart of the Mayan world. A country of great beauty and diversity, it is home to 23 languages and at least that many distinct cultures. The diverse Guatemalan culture is derived from Mayan and Spanish roots. However, the nation struggles in several areas of health and development, including infant, child and maternal mortality; malnutrition; literacy; and reproductive health. The large indigenous population of Guatemala is disproportionately affected. With the youngest population in Latin America, Guatemala has its highest fertility and population-growth rates.

ChildFund has served children in Guatemala since 1964.

ChildFund is working to improve the Guatemala health care system by helping to reduce maternal mortality by teaching families about health issues that may arise during pregnancy and by training midwives to know when to refer mothers to health clinics. Young men and women are learning about reproductive health, and coordination between communities and the Guatemala health care system has increased. Our Play With Me program adds nutrition, early stimulation and school readiness to the mix, with volunteer guide mothers teaching parenting techniques and assisting with early childhood development. Participating infants show improved motor, cognitive and social-language skills.

Due to a lack of access or the cultural acceptance of child labor in Guatemala, many children do not attend school. ChildFund programs encourage parents and students to develop positive attitudes toward learning and education in Guatemala. Teachers are trained to promote reading for fun, and to improve writing skills. Children who learn about planning, saving and business build self-esteem in the process. And students who conduct community research improve their communication skills while gaining a better understanding of their social context.

Programs for older youth support their growth into agents of positive change in their communities. ChildFund is helping them earn the respect of adults as they take charge of their reproductive health. Another program trains youth in human rights, leadership and advocacy, leading to their participation in political and cultural forums. Youth in our programs are gaining self-esteem, applying for jobs and continuing their formal educations – and their families are increasingly valuing education as an investment.

Guatemalan education faces serious problems: Nearly 31% of citizens over age 15 can’t read, and only two out of every five Guatemalan children finish the sixth grade. While strides have been made in the past decade to improve the Guatemalan education system, there are several obstacles to overcome in addressing the issue of poverty and education. Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Central America despite offering free and compulsory education for up to six years.

Low funding for education is one of the main obstacles for Guatemalan schools, leaving them ill-equipped to provide quality learning environments. And with half of Guatemalans living below the poverty line, it is difficult for families to send children to school when they need them work and contribute to the family income. Indigenous Guatemalans in particular have inadequate access to education as there are much higher rates of poverty among the indigenous population. ChildFund works with local partners to give indigenous children the means to receive an education, develop thinking skills and self-confidence.


 

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TIDBITS

  • Holidays
  • Languages
  • Resources
January 1 New Year's Day
May 1 Labor Day/May Day
June 30 Army Day
August 15 Assumption Day
September 15 Independence Day
October 20 Revolution of 1944
November 1 All Saints Day
December 25 Christmas Day
Amerindian
Spanish
 
 
 
 
 
Folklore Mayan Folktales: Folklore From Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Memoir I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala
Novel The President Miguel Ángel Asturias
Film The Silence of Neto
Documentary Through the Gates of Hell
Documentary When the Mountains Tremble
Music Marimba Music of Guatemala Chapinlandia
Cookbook Amalia's Guatemalan Kitchen Amalia Moreno-Damgaard



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