Western Guatemala

Guatemala

Western Region

  • Despite its extraordinary natural richness, as evidenced by this photo, Guatemala's overall poverty rate is almost 54 percent. Despite its extraordinary natural richness, as evidenced by this photo, Guatemala's overall poverty rate is almost 54 percent.
  • Families of assisted children gather at a Compassion center for a fun event that helps to build family bonds. Families of assisted children gather at a Compassion center for a fun event that helps to build family bonds.
  • Sponsored children receive educational support and hope for a better future. Sponsored children receive educational support and hope for a better future.
  • Children in the Compassion program have the opportunity to grow in every way: mind, body, heart and spirit. Children in the Compassion program have the opportunity to grow in every way: mind, body, heart and spirit.
  • Indigenous families in this region struggle to eke out a meager living primarily from agricultural labor. Indigenous families in this region struggle to eke out a meager living primarily from agricultural labor.
  • Many families are headed by single mothers, as fathers emigrate to other countries to provide their children a better future. Many families are headed by single mothers, as fathers emigrate to other countries to provide their children a better future.
  • Children and their mothers are in line to receive a nutritious meal. Children and their mothers are in line to receive a nutritious meal.
GUATEMALA OVERVIEW

Population

14,647,083

Religion

Roman Catholic

Weather

 
A Glimpse of Poverty in Guatemala's Western Region Guatemala's Western Region
  • Guatemala’s western region is inhabited primarily by poor indigenous people still suffering the effects of a 40-year civil war that ended in 1996. Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans were killed or left homeless by the war.
  • Many young people forcibly recruited by guerilla forces simply disappeared and have not been heard from since. Also, the war left many widows and orphans.
  • This region is also affected by a high rate of emigration. Parents live and work illegally in other countries to give their families a better life.
  • Many children, left without proper parental protection, are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
  • Even among families who remain in Guatemala, disruption is common, since men often migrate to the southern part of the country for six months of the year to work on sugarcane plantations.
  • Older children who leave school and go with their fathers to these jobs rarely return to their education.
COMMUNITY
Issues and Concerns

Drug-trafficking cartels are prevalent, and many innocent people are caught in the crossfire of ongoing drug wars.

The smuggling of goods and people across the Mexican border is also common.

The western region experiences high rates of sexual molestation and child neglect.

High unemployment contributes to drug and alcohol abuse.

Local Needs and Challenges

Family disintegration

Fathers frequently desert their families, leaving mothers to raise several children on their own.

Malnutrition

About 85 percent of the population doesn’t have enough food, and malnutrition among children is common.

Drug trafficking

Many people are lured into the trade to make money.

Child labor

Especially in the region’s sugarcane fields, child labor is a serious issue.

EDUCATION
Guatemala Western Region education
Schools and Education

Each town has at least one school, but schools sometimes don’t have enough supplies for the children. Some don’t even have desks or chairs.

Low teacher salaries contribute to a shortage of teachers.

Often children leave school to work with their fathers as seasonal day laborers; many do not return to their studies so they can continue to work.

School attendance varies, but generally as few as 10 percent of youths finish high school.

Countrywide, only about 2 percent of Guatemalans attend a university, and only half of those graduate.

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

At their Compassion centers, children are separated into age-appropriate classes to learn about topics that will help them develop into healthy young adults.

They eat nutritious food and also receive health checkups regularly.

They study God’s Word to better understand His love for them, and they spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.

What Compassion Sponsorship Provides

In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in Guatemala’s western region, providing:

  • regular nutritious meals and snacks
  • health checkups and medical care as needed
  • the support needed to attend school
  • training for their parents to decrease the negative effects of family separation and high incidence of child abuse. Classes called “Tender Parenting” provide parents the Bible-based guidance they need to raise their children well.
  • training in such viable income-generating skills as carpentry, commercial baking and tailoring to help young people avoid the temptation to emigrate. These extra-curricular training classes are also a good opportunity for youths to spend their free time with people who are a positive influence on their lives.