Guatemala is the most populous Central American nation and the heart of the Mayan world. It is a country of great beauty and diversity. 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. The people of Guatemala have endured dictatorships, coups and an internal conflict that lasted 36 years and resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people and almost 1 million displaced. Today in Guatemala, inequalities of income, high levels of violence and poverty, and lack of access to education are prevalent
Poverty in Guatemala, poverty manifests more acutely at the intersection of three personal characteristics: geography, cultural identity and gender. Females as well as children who live in rural areas and identify themselves as indigenous in addition to females are far more likely to live in poverty than any other group.
ChildFund has served children in Guatemala since 1964.
ChildFund’s work to get children into healthy developmental paths begins at home by focusing on parents, caregivers and other family members. Play With Me is a program that fosters healthy interaction within the family and helps parents understand their children’s development, from prenatal care to feeding relationships to appropriate stimulation and beyond.
One major effect of poverty on children is the inability to access education. An estimated 657,000 children do not attend school because of a lack of access or because of the cultural acceptance of child labor in Latin America. Children of Mayan descent are more apt to serve as child laborers in exploitative, abusive situations. Guatemala ranks as the third-highest in child labor statistics among Latin American 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.
During the last 20 years, youth gangs and drug trafficking have been the root of increased violence and further corruption. 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 to help reduce the impact of the narcotics trade, our programs emphasize life-skills development and child and youth protection.