In Eastern Guatemala
Geography & Climate
- Guatemala’s eastern region is hot and dry year-round.
- Temperatures reach above 100 degrees during April, the hottest month of the year.
- Drought usually sets in during April, and water must be rationed throughout the region until the annual rains begin in July.
Most families in this region depend on agricultural work. When rain is inadequate, they have no income.
Food insecurity is a regular problem for more than 80 percent of the region’s families.
Just as disastrous, when hurricanes or tropical storms strike the area, not only are crops destroyed, but also homes and sometimes entire communities.
Children at Home
Most homes have four children, and both parents work. Many of the men work during harvest season in the fields or in regional plantations that export watermelons and other melons.
Women contribute to household income by selling food or other items.
Homes are small and sparsely furnished, usually made of wood or cinder block, with dirt or brick floors, and tin roofs.
Issues and Concerns
- Because of unemployment rates of up to 80 percent, parents seldom make enough to adequately feed their families.
- Guatemala has the fourth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world. Nearly half of children under 5 are chronically malnourished.
- Children also commonly suffer from intestinal infections, respiratory ailments and allergies, and parasites.
Local Needs and Challenges
Children in eastern Guatemala face the constant threat of malnutrition.
Lack of clean water
Families often lack access to clean water. In some communities, people depend on water from local canals, which are typically contaminated.
Children are often taken out of school and sent to the fields to earn a little income for their families.
Children and women in this region also suffer from a high rate of physical and verbal abuse.
Schools and Education
- In this region, fathers take their sons to work with them when the harvest of corn, fruits and other crops begins. These children rarely return to school when the harvest season is over.
- The Guatemalan government has recently offered financial incentives for parents to send their children to school.
- While this practice has improved attendance, many parents continue to keep their children out of school so they can work and contribute to the household income.
Compassion Guatemala works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Children registered at Compassion centers learn skills that will help them in their studies and when they move into the workforce.
Using technology to study and to play educational games encourages their proficiency on the computer.
Compassion’s holistic approach of addressing the spiritual, economic, social and physical aspects helps children develop into healthy, well-rounded Christian adults.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in eastern Guatemala, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- cooking classes at their Compassion centers, where they learn how to prepare nutritious food, and after each class, they get to eat what they have made
- workshops for parents to encourage them to explore non-agriculture-based opportunities for generating an income
- self-esteem nurture, especially for girls
- teaching about God’s plan for healthy relationships, to help overcome the culture of machismo that permeates this region
Center workers are also trained to identify child abuse, as well as the proper actions to take if it happens.