Jocotán is a municipality in north eastern Guatemala. Amidst the falling price of coffee and the local economy's reliance upon it as a cash crop, Jocotan is facing increasing levels of poverty.
Families and children fall through the net in the face of drought and an industry in decline.
Families living in poverty
Around 80% of Jocotán's population are indigenous Chorti, which is also the main language spoken alongside Spanish. Eastern Guatemala has traditionally had the highest indexes of poverty on the Human Development Index - life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living are all low.
The government is trying hard to intervene with welfare programmes but these haven't reached everyone. Droughts and declining global coffee prices have impacted on the welfare of residents, forcing many people to the brink. Food security has fallen for many and child malnourishment has been on the increase.
Illiteracy is high at around 45% because children frequently drop out of school to help feed their families. This is particularly the case among young women. Gender inequality is high in the area, with young women expected to get married and have children rather than learn marketable skills and help improve the welfare of their families. As such they frequently drop out of school earlier than boys and have lower career and educational expectations. They become very dependent on their husbands to make ends meet for their families.
What SOS Children's Villages is doing in Jocotán
SOS Children's Villages arrived in Jocotán in 1983. We focus on taking care of young children who are unable to live with their parents, and take care of them into early adulthood. Children come to us whose parents have substance misuse problems or disabilities, and in the worst cases parents abandon their children because they cannot cope.
Many children who arrive at the SOS Children's Village are severely malnourished - some of them are extremely weakened and on the brink of death. Starvation is not uncommon in Jocotán, with other issues associated with acute poverty including malnutrition, diarrhoea, dysentery, and dengue fever being major causes of death in the Department.
For children who are no longer able to live with their parents they can join an SOS family. Lovingly cared for by an SOS Mother, children live in a family environment and play a role in the community. They attend school in the town with their peers and forge links that will serve them into the future.
As children reach an age where they require more independence, we offer them shared accommodation through the SOS youth programme. Here they pursue further education or vocational training while being given guidance in making the right decisions in early adulthood by qualified youth counsellors.
Many children in Jocotán have a tough start in life. We care for the most vulnerable at our Children's Village. With the help of our supporters, we support them from nursery to adulthood. Will you sponsor a child in Jocotán today, and help them to flourish?