In Guatemala over 54% of people live below the poverty line, with 13% living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of under-5s are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. 18.5% of the population aged over 15 cannot read or write. Guatemala is one of the only countries in Latin America where poverty rates are rising, with some of the highest inequity rates in the region, despite being Central America’s biggest economy.
What are the challenges?
Children end up on the streets because of poverty, abuse, social vulnerability or exclusion. Sadly, street life is too often short, violent and perpetuated by crime.
Children risk further abuse and exploitation, traffic accidents and violent gangs. Most beg or steal to raise money. Cold, hungry, sick and afraid, many street children in Guatemala abuse drugs as a means of escaping from the harsh reality of their lives.
Global Care works with SKD Guatemala, whose innovative work in Guatemala City focuses on rescuing children from the streets, and preventing children taking to the streets (this project was formerly run by Mi Arca).
Global Care and SKD Guatemala are committed to keeping street children with their families, wherever possible, rather than delivering permanent residential care. An innovative mentoring programme helps build resilience in street children, supports them back into education, and gives them the tools they need, over time, to consider change. A day centre, El Centro, gives mentored children a safe space they can use during the day, and opportunities to play and do homework.
However there are occasions where it is simply not safe for children to go home at night – perhaps their carer is ill in hospital, or the whole family, including mum, need a break from an abusive parent, or a child is at immediate risk of harm from a dangerous or abusive situation.
In these circumstances, vulnerable children and families can stay at SKD’s Protection Home, which offers short-term emergency accommodation in safety, for two or three nights, or a weekend, while longer-term solutions are found.
Could you ‘back a bed’ in the Protection Home for vulnerable children? Your support will keep a bed ready and available for children and families in urgent need. If you give as a regular monthly partner, we will update you annually with stories of children who have benefited from the project.