COVID-19 and Compassion’s Work in Guatemala

An in-depth look at the coronavirus pandemic in Guatemala

Last Updated: 04/12/2021

The number of Guatemalans who do not have enough food has nearly doubled during the pandemic as families have suffered income loss and unemployment, according to the World Food Program. Devastation from Hurricanes Eta and Iota last fall caused many families in extreme poverty to go into debt in order to eat. Children are now even more likely to become malnourished and stop going to schools – 1,200 of which were damaged or destroyed in Central America – as recovery efforts proceed slowly. Water systems remain contaminated, causing exposure to life-threatening illnesses. Although the economic effects of the pandemic persist, coronavirus infections are trending downward in Guatemala; the average daily number of new cases was 303 in the week preceding April 6. As of that date, the country had administered enough doses to fully vaccinate 0.3%its 17.2 million people.

Compassion child development centers have suspended in-person classes and activities. Staff and volunteers are making home visits to stay in touch with beneficiaries and follow up on their needs. They also provided monthly magazines with program content so children can continue to learn about God and ways they can take care of themselves. Some classes and activities are held virtually. Frontline church partners have delivered over 521,000 food packs and nearly 203,000 hygiene kits to children and their families. Additionally, they have facilitated medical support for nearly 11,000 individuals.

COVID response in Guatemala

A Message From National Staff

Staff members at your child’s Compassion center are working hard to make sure that your child feels known, loved and protected. You can now partner directly with the volunteers and staff at your child’s center and further bless their ministry by sending a center gift.

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How Is Compassion Currently Operating in Guatemala?

Below, you will find the latest information on how Compassion is currently operating in Guatemala, including status updates on center openings, letter delivery and gift delivery. This is the most current information we have, though it can change quickly. Please know that all children and their families are being checked in on regularly by staff, either in person or by phone, even if the Compassion center is not open for programming.

Are Compassion Centers Open?

At this point, all centers in Guatemala are closed in order to abide by local guidelines. Staff members are still visiting, calling and checking in on families virtually. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute over 521,000 food packs and nearly 203,000 hygiene kits to children and their families!

COVID response in Guatemala

child reading IconStory From the Field

For Compassion Guatemala, 2020 represented hard work, tears and change — it was a year that challenged every person to rethink how to move forward. For Juan, a partnership facilitator who oversees the work of a dozen church partners there, the focus for 2021 is on renewal — new ways of teaching children, helping families, learning and moving forward.

The first thing Juan says he learned was how the lack of technology was an extreme obstacle for many families, especially in rural areas. How could the center staff stay connected to children who felt cut off from the world?

“The work of Compassion in Guatemala is significant. When children couldn't attend the center, we decided to create Skippy Magazine to keep sharing the program with the children, so the lack of technology that many of our families face won't be a gap to keep them from receiving the program,” says Juan. In addition, Compassion Guatemala is helping centers develop their technology abilities and equipment.

When the pandemic began, the national office provided food staples and gave children information about how take care of their health. If a child got sick, he or she received medical support.

“We figured out that families need more and more to sustain themselves. Parents got fired from their jobs, so we decided to create family farms,” says Juan. “Actually, in some areas we have been doing this for a couple of years, so now we'd like to implement this in every church.”

Families participating in the farms can cultivate food to sell or consume, giving them both income and food to eat.

“We worked hard last year, and I think this year we will work even more. The pandemic is not over; the challenges are not over,” says Juan.

How can I pray for Guatemala?

Pray that God would bring an end to the hunger crisis, restore water systems and speed Guatemala’s recovery from recent natural disasters. For more prayer resources, visit Compassion’s COVID-19 prayer page for prayer guides and a virtual prayer wall.

How Can I Help?

Sponsor a Child in Guatemala
Give to Compassion’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
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