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 one million displaced. Today in Guatemala,
inequalities of income, high levels of violence and lack of access to education
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
in addition to females are far more likely to live in poverty than any other group.
ChildFund has served children in Guatemala since 1964.
The First Years
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.
An estimated 657,000 children 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 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.
Life Skills and Child Protection
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.