Guatemala is a country that suffers from malnutrition—it’s a problem that worsens each year affecting the most pure-hearted ones, the children.
Each day approximately 1,000 boys and girls are born in Guatemala, and more than half are going to be malnourished children suffering the consequences for their entire lives.
Guatemala has the highest incidence of chronic malnutrition in Latin America, with 49 percent of children affected.
With Food for the Hungry (FH), I’ve submerged myself in this cause to help the 800,000 malnourished children in Guatemala, and there’s no turning back. It’s a situation that breaks your heart, so the only thing left to do is to change it.
Developing a Future
I’ve visited many Guatemalan homes in communities in Nebaj (Quiche) and San Juan Chamelco (Alta Verapaz), with dirt floors covered with animal droppings. Walls full of holes covered with newspaper to shut out the winter cold. Wooden bed frames with sheets that make do for blankets. Hens and chicks running around the kitchen area, and contaminated water being used for cooking food. Hands dirtied by working in the fields, those same hands feeding the babies and children.
Children can suffer from unbearable pain caused by intestinal bacteria, diarrhea and parasites, followed by dehydration and weight loss. Mothers lose track of how many times their children have stomach illnesses. This all contributes to malnutrition. Simple medication can end the suffering these malnourished children go through.
Nutrition is another issue. When a baby isn’t fed properly in her first two years of life, this directly affects the development of the brain, leaving permanent damage. The baby will grow up and dream about attending school and having a better future.
But the lack of brain development will cause learning problems, mostly in the classroom. Malnourished children will sleep in school because of poor nutrition. In the little time malnourished children are awake, it will be nearly impossible to remember what’s being taught due to poor capacity to memorize.
Working to End Malnutrition
At Food for the Hungry in Guatemala, we are working to construct self-sustaining communities focused on ending chronic malnutrition among children.
Through nutrition and hygiene programs, we are making a difference. In the past two years we have lowered the malnutrition rate by 4 percent in 45 communities in Guatemala.
Through child sponsorship, you can also help to end malnutrition in Guatemala and the other fields where FH works. By sponsoring a child, you’ll make sure that a child is receiving good food, an education and the message of Christ’s love. Together, we can do more and end chronic malnutrition and poverty.
Written by Monique Aparicios, former Miss World Guatemala 2012. She began working with FH to help children living in poverty have hope for their future.