Retalhuleu is the capital of the Homonymous rehion of Guatemala, on the Pacific coast of the country. The indigenous population tend to benefit the least from Guatemala's economic wealth.
Children from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have young parents, tend to be the most vulnerable of all in the country.
Inequailty of wealth
The region has a population of around 300,000 and its economy relies on industry, agriculture and the production of artisan goods.
Wealth in Guatemala isn't shared equally. The top 20% consume over 50% of the resources where the poorest 20% less than 5%. Though the rural population is over 60% of the population of Homonymous, it accounts for less than 30% of income and consumption.
Poverty rates in the region are some of the highest in Latin America, and the worst-off in the area are indigenous people and women.
Long and short-term effects of poverty
In order to help their families make ends meet, children from the poorest families often give up school to work. These families cannot afford learning materials or school supplies to support their children. Education being the best way out of poverty, doors are closed to such children at a very early age.
Child labour is a serious problem in Retalhuleu. Children as young as five work in industries such as quarries and risk serious injury and disease from the dangerous conditions. The quarries' location being far from many medical facilities, ordinarily treatable injury can result in permanent disability or death.
A good childhood opens the doors of opportunity to the child from the start. Having to fend for themselves from an early age stunts a child's psychological development but also reduces their chances of breaking out of poverty.
How SOS Children's Villages helps in Retalhuleu
We have been working in Retalhuleu since 1980, and now run a range of interventions to help the most vulnerable in the area. Our social centres offer family support programmes designed to alleviate hardship in the community, but also help parents fend for their families without relying on their children for support. We offer child-minding and day-care facilities to allow both parents to work, and children to get the best start possible.
We offer counselling and psychological support to members of the community who have been traumatised, and also help children who need additional educational support.
Loving family homes
When children in Retalhuleu can no longer live with their parents they can join an SOS family. Here they are lovingly cared for by an SOS Mother. Children attend school in the community and play an active role in community life.
As children grow up and need more independence, they are offered shared, supported accommodation through the SOS youth programme. Here they can undertake further education or vocational training and set themselves up for adulthood under the guidance of qualified youth counsellors.
Many children in Retalhuleu have a tough start in life. We provide a loving home for the most vulnerable, ensuring they have all they need to flourish. You can give one of these children hope for the future by sponsoring a child today.