Guatemala is a beautiful country in Central America that is deeply impacted by severe poverty. Child labor is common, with many children not receiving an education. Only 4% of children living in rural regions will ever graduate high school.
Guatemala also has a very high rate of malnutrition, with one of two children suffering stunting and other health issues due to chronic hunger. In the region where Love Without Boundaries (LWB) works, many children have little access to medical care or quality education. In this article, we want to share some ways that you can help a child in Guatemala.
Our commitment to support children in Guatemala:
LWB has made a commitment to the following initiatives to help children in Guatemala in several marginalized communities:
- Provide essential nutritional support and food relief to impoverished families to overcome chronic childhood malnutrition
- Empower teen girls through workshops on self-esteem, puberty, and social equality while providing dignity through feminine supplies
- Bring education and art to children in remote villages who are not able to attend school
- Help children in Guatemala with cleft needs and cardiac care through our medical program
Help a child in Guatemala and provide food relief
Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world, and the pandemic has made the situation even more dire for children living in extreme poverty. With many job opportunities vanishing, children and their families are in danger of malnutrition. Last year, we began providing food relief to help children in Guatemala.
In addition, we are providing monthly food support to vulnerable families throughout Guatemala. Love Without Boundaries supports local farmers by purchasing fresh produce for our monthly food support to families in need in Guatemala.
Help a child in Guatemala through our girl empowerment project
To help provide a better future for young girls in rural Guatemala, we have a girl empowerment project with the Bright Future Center for Girls. Teen girls meet several times per month and discuss ways to have a safer and healthier future.
Because many girls in Guatemala cannot access hygiene products and therefore miss school, girls in our empowerment project are given their own personal hygiene kit.
Each month, these young girls go home feeling special, loved, and empowered to walk through the month with dignity and basic hygiene supplies.
Help a child in Guatemala receive educational support
LWB supports an after-school program in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala. Three times a week, children come to this safe and nurturing place to spend their afternoons enjoying some of the following activities:
- Healthy snacks
- Homework club
- Language and math tutoring
Many children in remote areas of Guatemala do not have access to schools and have no chance to receive an education. LWB helps Guatemalan children by providing a pop-up school that uses creative art projects to teach educational topics. Topics have included the following:
- Loving one’s community
- Conflict resolution
- Reading skills and early literacy
- Beauty in nature
- Family connections
Cleft surgery mission
Since 2004, LWB has been passionate about helping babies and children born with cleft lip and palate.
To help children in Guatemala who are cleft-affected, we hope to provide cleft surgeries for 75 babies and children during a cleft medical mission in late 2022. We are working closely with a local organization, Partners for Surgery, to provide operations for rural children during a cleft medical mission at a mission hospital in Antigua, Guatemala.
Rural Guatemala is extremely impoverished, and poverty presents numerous additional challenges for families with cleft-affected babies and children.
- The Guatemala Ministry of Health estimates that cleft lip and palate account for 15% of all reported congenital anomalies in the country.
- A recent analysis in Reproductive Health Journal indicates that 10% of children born with cleft in Guatemala will tragically pass away before 6 weeks of age.
- Malnutrition is endemic and poses additional problems for cleft-affected babies who often have difficulties nursing or taking a bottle.
One of the biggest issues for children facing cleft surgery is ensuring that they meet the required weight and iron levels to undergo an operation. Babies who are born with cleft lip or palate often have difficulty gaining weight. This can lead to babies with cleft being diagnosed as failure to thrive; sadly, some even pass away.
Cleft bottles, which are so vital for helping cleft-affected children get adequate nutrition, are not available in Guatemala and must be imported. There is an enormous need for both cleft bottles and high-quality formula for those children who have not been able to successfully breastfeed.
To qualify for cleft surgery during our cleft medical mission, babies must weigh a minimum of 10 pounds and have an iron level of at least 10. It is always difficult emotionally to have to tell an anxious parent or caregiver, who has traveled so far for surgery, that their child is not healthy enough to undergo an operation. We want to make sure that message doesn’t have to be given to a single family who will come see our cleft surgery team and are providing nutritional support to babies born with cleft lip and palate before our cleft surgery team arrives.
Babies born with cleft lip and palate often have difficulty feeding, and often parents are unsure how to feed a child with an open palate. We are working with an organization called Partners in Surgery which visits parents of cleft-affected children at home and teaches them how to care for and feed their babies. To help children in Guatemala born with cleft lip and palate, they provide specialized bottles and formula.
Cardiac surgery program
Love Without Boundaries was founded in 2003 when a group of parents came together to save the life of an orphaned child in desperate need of heart surgery. Our commitment to helping children born with cardiac issues continues to this day.
Little one-year-old Diana, seen above, is one of LWB Guatemala’s first cardiac patients. This fragile little girl lives with her parents and older sister in western Guatemala and was born with a large VSD heart defect that needs to be closed soon before she becomes inoperable due to hypertension.
Because children with medical needs are often fragile and malnourished, we provide special formula and nutrition to children like Diana who are awaiting life-saving surgeries. We are grateful to stand in the gap for children in need so that they can receive the medical care they need and go on to enjoy healthy and happy lives.
How can I help a child in Guatemala?
It’s possible to change a life and help a child in Guatemala by supporting any of the programs described here through a one-time donation or a monthly donation. LWB sends regular updates and photos to all child sponsors, and we are always happy to communicate directly with our sponsors to answer any questions or concerns they may have.
We’re grateful for our LWB community which makes our work with children in need possible through their support and belief that Every Child Counts.
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