A 36-year armed conflict which ended in 1996 devastated several 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.
Many Guatemalan children live in dangerous urban environments, or poor and remote rural villages. There is little opportunity for safe play, creativity or social development, and for some even formal education is limited.
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.
“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