SOS Children in Guatemala

Sponsorship sites in Guatemala

Guatemala is in Central America, south of Mexico. In 1996 the country emerged from a 36-year-long civil war in which more than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared.

Guatemalans live in one of the most iniquitous societies in the region. Poverty is particularly prevalent in rural areas and in indigenous communities. In 2001 the World Bank estimated that two-thirds of Guatemalan children were living in poverty. Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region, life expectancy is among the lowest and the country is one of the most violent in Latin America.

Some 60 per cent of the school age population live in rural areas, but only 24.5 per cent of the schools are in the rural areas. Eight municipalities do not have a middle school and only 58 per cent have a secondary school. More children at younger ages are entering the labour force

SOS Children began working in Guatemala in 1976 following an earthquake which totally destroyed the Indian town of San Juan Sacatepéquez, 30 km from Guatemala City. Five wooden houses were built to provide homes for children who had been orphaned. In 1991 it was decided to close the village as the houses were in a very poor condition, and an SOS welfare centre and kindergarten was built on the site which provides day nurseries and social care for the local community, particularly single mothers and disadvantaged families.

The charity now has five children's communities in Guatemala The first in Quetzaltenango was built in 1979 on the outskirts of the city of Quetzaltenango, 200 km north-west of Guatamela City at an altitude of 2400 metres. The village has twelve family houses and three youth houses where the older children from Quetzaltenango and other Guatemalan SOS communities can live while completing their education or learning tailoring, dressmaking and carpentry at the vocational training centre and workshops which are part of the village.

The charity opened a Village at Retalhuleu in 1980. Retalhuleu, a provincial capital with around 60,000 inhabitants, is 230 km west of Guatemala City. The village is in a residential area about two kilometres from the city centre and has ten family houses and two youth houses and a kindergarten which is also open to children in the neighbourhood. A workshop provides training in tailoring and dressmaking for the young people.

SOS Children at Jocotán opened in 1983. It is about 200 km east of Guatemala City near the border with Honduras in a very deprived, mountainous area. Jocotán itself is a small village, 26 km from the nearest large city Chiquimula where there is an SOS Youth House for the older children. On the side of a river, the Village has twelve family houses and a kindergarten which is also used by children and families in Jocotán. A Primary School was built in 1993 for both local and SOS children.

The charity opened another community at San Cristóbal in the capital, Guatemala City, in 1996 to replace the original Children's Village at San Juan Sacatepéquez. In addition to the eleven family houses, the facilities include a kindergarten for the children from the village and the neighbourhood, a welfare and day-care centre for the local people and youth housing for the older children.

Guatemala's fifth community opened in 2001. SOS Children San Jerónimo is in the province of Baja Verapaz, an area that was badly affected by the civil war and whose inhabitants (mostly American Indians from the Quiché tribe) are still suffering the consequences. The village has ten family houses and runs its own kindergarten for both the SOS and local children.

Local Contacts

SOS Children in Guatemala:
Asociación Aldeas Infantiles SOS de Guatemala
9 Calle 1-96, Zona 3 de Mixco,
Colonia El Rosario,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
Guatemala, C.A
Postal Address:
Apartado postal 2908,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
Guatemala, C.A
Tel: +502/434 3007 - 09, +502/434 5255, +502/434 2277
Fax: +502/434 3011 221

Guatemala Child Sponsorship

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