A 36-year civil war which ended in 1996 devastated two generations of Guatemalans. Over 200,000 people were killed or ‘disappeared’, leaving communities broken and with only limited resources to rebuild themselves.
Many children were orphaned, abandoned or outcast, without a sense of purpose or a belief in a better future.
They now live in dangerous urban environments or poor and remote rural villages. There is little opportunity for safe play, creativity or social development.
Without hope, and needing to earn money, these children have little motivation to remain in school or to stay away from gangs, drugs and street crime. Without dreams for a better future, it is nearly impossible to escape the cycle of poverty and violence.
Guatemala’s Alarming Statistics: 2012
- Population: 15 million. 53.7% (8 million) live in poverty, 2 million live in extreme poverty
- Nutrition: 50% of children suffer chronic malnutrition (highest in Latin America and 6th highest in the world)
- Fertility Rate: Four children per-woman (highest in Latin America)
- Infant Mortality: 24 children per 1,000 (highest in Central America, 3rd in Latin America)
- Homicide Rate: 30 deaths per 100,000 habitants. (34 deaths per-day in 2012). (7th highest in the world) An epidemic of violence is considered if more than 10 deaths per-day.
- Average Years of School: 5.5 years in major cities / 3.8 years in rural areas (8.3 years in Latin America)
“Education is one of the main factors that propel people out of poverty, yet indigenous peoples continue to have fewer years of education than non-indigenous.
Hall and Patrinos, Finance & Development. Magazine, International Monetary Fund, 2005
“Almost 50% of all students fail first grade; these children are more likely to fail again and drop out. At all levels of school, the poor, particularly girls and rural indigenous children of both genders, have less access to basic education.”
USAID/Guatemala; Education Access, Quality and Equity in Guatemala, Latin American Profiles 1999-2004