Wednesday, 6 July 2022
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Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Adopt-A-Child: Why is Poverty a Problem in Guatemala?

FOR anyone living in a first-world country, comprehending poverty in a country like Guatemala is challenging.  As we support those less fortunate than us, it’s normal to ask, ‘Why?’

Why are people so poor? Why don’t they get a better job if they’re desperate for money? Why do they keep having children if they can’t afford them? Why do some people have mobile phones, but not food? We hope to help answer some of these difficult questions. 

Poverty is Systemic

The systems in place — or the lack thereof — make poverty in Guatemala persistent.

For the majority of people, especially those in rural villages, food is scarce. Most struggle to think beyond what their next meal will be or what they will feed their families. A varied, healthy diet is unheard of. Many do not have access to clean water and must spend hours travelling to bring fresh water to their families. Without consistent access to food and water, moving beyond poverty is virtually impossible.

In Guatemala’s rural areas, agriculture is essentially the only industry. Many people — if they have work at all — work as day labourers on farms, earning less than £2.50 per day.  Off-season or in times of drought (not to mention COVID-related complications), these labourers struggle to find work anywhere. A few are lucky enough to have employers who give them mobile phones to call them into work. Many others travel abroad to look for work. Sadly, this separates families to the detriment of the children.

Families are often large – children are one of the few joys their parents have. Also, children help contribute to the family’s needs. They help work a farm where families can’t afford to hire employees. They can also take care of their siblings if their parents need to leave to find water, food or employment. Unfortunately, this means most children don’t get more than a basic education. With little education, people don’t develop higher learning skills or economic abilities. Few receive knowledge about hygiene, health or family planning. Lack of education perpetuates poverty.

Poverty is Historic

Guatemala’s history of political unrest and civil war contributes to the state of poverty.  Long-standing militaristic cartel and gang culture make matters even more difficult. Historic danger makes it difficult to move past poverty.

There are bureaucratic hurdles as well. The share of Guatemalan GDP collected as tax and then spent ranks 204th of 215 countries. Moreover, only a quarter of the taxes collected go to public investment. Such history and governmental patterns create an inertia that is hard to move in a positive direction.

Poverty is Psychological and Spiritual

Imagine that no one in your family can remember a time when they didn’t live in poverty.  Imagine that your family’s health history was a continuous story of illness, tooth decay and poor diet. Imagine that you don’t personally know anyone who isn’t poor.

Living with these kinds of realities, the hope that things could ever be different is often out of reach. Without a message of hope, how could you fight your way out of poverty?

At Living Water Adopt-A-Child, we exist to bring help and hope to some of the world’s poorest people, providing food, sponsorship, medical assistance and the hope of Christ to those who need it most.

For more information visit our website: https://www.livingwateradoptachild.org/uk/. 

(Sources: CIA World Factbook, Global Hunger Index, The World Bank)

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