fighting poverty in the communities that need us most
Guatemala is the “land of the eternal spring” with its temperate weather and volcanic black-sand beaches. It may sound like paradise. But poverty is a serious issue in Guatemala, persisting in both rural and urban sections of the country. In Guatemala City, communities struggle with gangs, drugs and violence. In rural areas of the country, we work with indigenous families living in extreme poverty.
Because they live in mountainous regions that are hard to get to, these families lack even the most basic of services, such as health care, schools and job opportunities. Many children here drop out of school to work and help their families. For those who don’t drop out, fewer than 20% make it to high school. Across the country, stable employment is hard to find for most adults — even more so for youth. As a result, more than 50% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line with 43% of children under the age of 5 suffering chronic malnutrition.
With seven community centers and a dedicated team on-site, Children International is working to create lasting change for the children and youth of these communities. We have education programs in place to help break the cycle of poverty, providing tutoring, literacy programs, supplies, uniforms and scholarships to children and their families. Youth programs teach personal responsibility, conflict resolution, leadership skills and encourage community outreach projects. Our community centers expose children to new opportunities, educational support, feeding programs, health care and shield them from the gangs and violence of their community. Our youth are excelling in Leadership Training, scoring above the global average in overall leadership knowledge (85%) and management skills (89%). We also teach older youth about all aspects of entering the workforce through our Into Employment® program. With your help, we can end generational poverty for good in Guatemala.
DID YOU KNOW?
The very first chocolate bar was created in Guatemala.
Our work in Guatemala
In communities like Guatemala, we invest in the lives of children and youth to build the healthy environments they need to find a path out of poverty. With your help, our programs can make an impact on their lives and help them envision a future they never thought possible. Below are some of the challenges facing children in Guatemala and the ways we work to create lasting change in their communities.
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Dropout rates in Guatemala are very high, with many youth leaving school to find work to help support their families. For those who don’t drop out, fewer than 20% make it to high school.
Education is a key to ending generational poverty, so our programs stress the importance of school. We provide supplies and uniforms to families that can’t afford them and encourage youth to apply for HOPE scholarships. For those who need extra help with schoolwork, tutoring is available in our community centers. Finally, we partner with Conalfa, which offers parents and siblings of children in our programs access to a free literacy program.
For the second year in a row, 97% of tutoring students were able to finish their school year and move up to the next grade level
The importance of education
It may start as a lack of education, but a child out of school is more likely to become involved with drugs, gangs and other risky behaviors. It’s easy to see how education is the key to giving children and youth a path out of poverty. When you make a gift to our education programs, you provide the resources, tutoring programs and more for children from kindergarten through high school and beyond.
Every day in Guatemala, two children die from some form of violence. Gang violence in Guatemala’s urban areas has escalated to alarming heights in recent years. One of the social groups most affected by violence and crime is children and young people, particularly those living in marginal urban areas and poor rural areas. Traditionally, this segment is one of the most excluded in these countries, despite representing a high percentage of their population.
Engaging children and youth in programs at our community centers provides a safe haven from the violence of the streets. Activities such as Sport for Development, Youth Health Corps and Social and Financial Education offer a sense of empowerment and responsibility while further teaching valuable life skills to further their personal growth.
of participants said their Sport for Development program created a safe, caring environment
The importance of empowerment
Growing up in poverty, many children and youth live without hope that things will ever change. That’s why it’s crucial to foster empowerment through our programs, giving children leadership, life skills and employment training workshops so they can make an impact on the next generation. When you sponsor a child, you’re giving children the confidence to create lasting change in their lives.
Lack of job opportunities
In Guatemala, poverty persists no matter where you live and it’s one of the most unequal countries in terms of wealth distribution. That’s why we work in both urban and rural areas, where our families’ needs vary greatly. Stable employment is hard to find for most adults — even more so for youth. As a result, more than 50% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line.
Generational poverty will not end without providing youth the skills to secure stable employment. Our Youth Leadership Training and Into Employment® programs teach management and leadership skills to help them join the workforce in their community.
of Into Employment program participants were placed into jobs with the skills they gained
The importance of employment
Many youth don’t have the basic skills needed to find work, like résumé writing, interview prep or even understanding where to find a job. With a loss of hope and direction, unemployed youth often turn to gang affiliation or drugs, continuing a life of poverty that has lasted for generations. When you make a gift to our employment programs, you’re helping youth in our communities develop interview-ready skills to help them connect to local employers and pave the way to a future filled with opportunities they never thought possible.
Number 1 in Latin America for child malnutrition
According to UNICEF, in Guatemala, 49.8% of children suffer from chronic malnutrition; that’s 1 in 2.
Most parents in Guatemala never learned about proper nutrition, so they need to understand the importance of a proper diet for themselves and their children. Our community centers offer classes on nutrition and meal-prep training to parents to help them feed their families in the best way possible. And our community garden project gives hands-on experience in growing nutritious veggies.
Globally, 62% of at-risk children regained normal weight through our nutrition program
The importance of nutrition
The problem of malnutrition is not simply a lack of food. It may be a lack of the right food with the proper vitamins and minerals. Malnutrition keeps the brain from developing to its full potential, which makes it harder for children to learn. The lasting effects of malnutrition on a child can be lifelong, weakening the immune system and making them more susceptible to disease. Struggles with illness keep children out of school, leading to further challenges and a cycle of setbacks and poverty.
The highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America
Young pregnancies are common and often accepted in Guatemala, especially among the indigenous communities in rural areas.
Our Youth Health Corps program provides age-appropriate reproductive education and teaches youth how to make responsible decisions when put in risky situations. Youth then become agents of change, passing on their knowledge about reproductive health, sanitation, hygiene and STDs and addiction prevention to their friends.
Globally, over 8,000 teens and caregivers participated in our Adolescent Health program
The importance of reproductive education
Youth struggling with early pregnancy often drop out and are unable to continue their education. Without an education their chance to pull themselves out of poverty become limited and they find themselves stuck in a cycle that has preceded them for generations.
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Our 67 community centers worldwide are hubs for activity and achievement as well as safe havens for children in our programs. See what’s happening at our community centers.
The Mariscal community center in Guatemala City serves nearly 6,000 sponsored kids and families. (The kids adore the playground and youth community room.) The center includes a medical and dental clinic and a pharmacy.
Villa Canales opened October 26, 2016
The Cook Family Community Center is an exciting space, where children and teens receive care, safely play and study, and learn the skills they need to become empowered to overcome poverty. There are still opportunities to get involved and make a meaningful impact on our kids' lives.
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