Santa Cruz del Quiché

Girl hiding behind a woman's skirt CV Santa Cruz del QuichéOur newest Children's Village in Guatemala is under construction in Quiché to help the many families struggling in poverty due to a deeply divided society still recovering from a civil war that ended 18 years ago.

Santa Cruz del Quiché is the capital of the Quiché region. Around 80% of the population live in poverty, around 35% of them who cannot meet the most basic needs such as an adequate diet or proper healthcare. Most of the population is young, with an average of 6 children per mother.

Children depreived of a happy childhood

Poverty levels are most acute in rural areas due to the lack of public amenities. Rural inhabitants tend to be subsistence farmers, and are predominantly of Mayan descent, speaking their mother tongues of Quiché, Ixil, Uspanteco and Sacapulteco.

The region is recovering from three decades of civil war that ended in 1996. Thousands of families were killed or torn apart - many more were left traumatised by events that they were caught up in.

Disadvantaged beginnings

With a local tradition of having large families, there are often many mouths to feed on small incomes. The pressure of making ends meet drives many parents to alcoholism and this causes its own problems - domestic violence, neglect and sometimes the abandonment of children.

Healthcare is an issue. Many families either cannot afford to access basic health services or reach them due to the distances involved. This and malnutrition often seriously affects the child's development - the staple diet of tortillas (corn bread and salt) cannot provide all the nutrients required for a child to develop properly.

Children also drop out of education at an early age to help feed their families. Some leave home earlier than would normally be good for them and migrate to urban areas to work as domestic maids in the case of girls and shining shoes in the case of boys.

Our newest Children's Village in Guatemala

Three boys from San Cristobal in Guatemala

At present we have one temporary home for children in Quiché but we are building 14 SOS family homes in a dedicated Children's Village. We are also building a social centre in the city to prevent family breakup. The social centre will run community outreach programmes which will help families become financially independent without relying on their children to work. We will also offer child-minding facilities for families to leave their children with us while they work. We will also provide health services, nutritional and educational support.

The social centre will also offer vocational training to parents to enable them to take on more skilled, better paid work and better be able to look after their children. Where necessary we will also offer psychological support and counselling, for instance to those still traumatised by the civil war.

A new loving home for vulnerable children

For children who are unable to live with their families, up to 140 children will be able to live in one of the 14 SOS family houses which are currently under construction. Here they will be able to live in a family environment under the care of an SOS Mother while attending school in the community. Through maintaining links with their community, so they can enjoy a life much as they would under the care of their parents.

We're getting ready to welcome children to our new Village in Guatemala. Orphaned and abandoned, these children will be given a new start and loving care in an SOS family. Sponsor a child today, and help them to grow and thrive. 

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Did you know? SOS Children works in The Gambia in Basse and Bakoteh. Our Village in Bakoteh has been running for over 30 years.