San Cristóbal is 10km west of Guatemala City, and is linked to the capital by two large bridges. It is both a booming suburb of Guatemala City and a city of great inequality.
Where people of Hispanic origin can do very well in the city, people of indigenous Mayan descent frequently see the other side of the coin.
Impact on children's prospects
San Cristóbal has been heavily developed as a suburb of the city since the 1970's. Three languages are spoken in the region - Spanish, and the Mayan languages of Pocomam and Kachikel. Most people in the area are bilingual but illiteracy in any language is very high among the indigenous population, and in particular among women.
Among indigenous women, illiteracy can be as high as 90% in some areas. Being unable to read or write impacts on one's ability to get decent employment to support the family, or engage with political and social life in the country. As a result of this disparity in educational achievement, up to 74% of the indigenous population are estimated to live in poverty in the region.
Children bear the brunt of inequality in a divided society
Guatemala is one of the least developed Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, which that takes into account health, education and income.
One of the outcomes of poverty is that children drop out of school to help their families. It is estimated that half a million children between seven and 14 work in Guatemala, and this seriously impacts on their chances in life as adults. Where 65% of children finish primary school, only 24% attend secondary school.
One fifth of young women marry between the age of 15 and 19. In most cases such women have not finished their education and this impacts on their ability to generate an income for their families. As a result of poverty, 49% of children in Guatemala suffer malnutrition.
SOS Children's Village San Cristóbal
SOS Children's Villages have been working in San Cristóbal since 1996. For children in and around Guatemala City who can no longer live with their parents we offer places in one of the SOS families. Cared for by an SOS Mother, children attend school in their local community and forge bonds and friendships that will hold them in good stead into the future.
As young people grow up and need more independence they are offered places through our SOS youth programme. While living in shared, supported accommodation they can attend further education or vocational training. Qualified youth counsellors guide them in making the right decisions as they take on the responsibilities of adulthood.
We have an SOS vocational training centre in San Cristobal. Here, future SOS staff and Mothers are fully trained in the roles they will undertake working into the Children's Villages of Guatemala.
We are able to care for orphaned children in San Cristóbal thanks to child sponsors. You can help to transform a young life in Guatemala by sponsoring a child today.