Poverty in Guatemala is widespread, extreme and deeply entrenched.
According to the UNICEF Annual Report 2013, over half the national population (62.2%) live below the poverty line. Many families struggle to provide for their children, with 49.8% of under-fives suffering from chronic malnutrition - the 6th highest rate in the world.
Despite agriculture being a crucial component of Guatemala's economy, poverty is especially endemic in rural areas among the indigenous population. Persistent political corruption, a lack of education and the after-effects of a 36-year civil war have meant that rural communities do not reap the rewards of their labour.
Local grass-root charities play an important role in development work in Guatemala. One such charity is Asociación Fatima, which has been established for 25 years and is poised to deliver aid to those who need it most.
Working in the region of Quetzaltenango, the association provides crucial support to approximately 250 local families: from providing medical services to distributing school equipment, food and shoes. For many families around Quetzaltenango, this brings hope for the future.
The association centres its work on four programmes:
1) Program of Nutritional Recuperation
33 families who are in a state of malnutrition are given food. Qualified nutritionists also show how the families can stay nourished within their means.
2) Program of Community Development
Helps 60 families who are in a state of extreme vulnerability by providing financial donations and micro-credits. Non-prescribed medication is also distributed.
3) Program on Health and Hygiene
165 families are provided with non-prescribed medication
4) Institutional Strengthening
Shoes and learning equipment are donated to schools and heavily subsidized medical services are provided to all the families.
Having previously worked for 2 years with a non-governmental organisation in Guatemala, our co-founder, Rustom, came to realise that grass-root charities are often overlooked for financial support. These organisations are important due to their close interaction with the local community. As a result, we decided to focus our efforts on supporting Asociación Fatima.
To date, our support is enabling the transportation of all foods, medicine and donated goods from Guatemala City to the charity’s premises where it is then redistributed to the families.
Our support is also helping the association grow by providing essential maintenance work for their premises. At the moment this involves fixing the roof in one of their main rooms, which will allow them to rent it out and subsequently generate an extra source of income.
Our aim is not to make this support a one-off occurrence, but instead to get more actively involved with Asociación Fatima, helping it to gain greater exposure and strengthen as an organisation. We will keep you posted on all updates about the charity on our blog and social media.
Unicef Annual Report 2013