WHY GUATEMALA?

Although Guatemala is not the poorest country in Latin America, malnutrition is a severe problem in the nation, as it is the country with the highest rate of malnutrition in the entire Western Hemisphere, and has the fourth highest rate in the world. The epidemic of malnutrition in Guatemala not only inhibits the development of each child, but also the development of the nation as a whole. Human survival at the most basic level requires few things: shelter, food, and clean water. Malnourished children are denied the basic rights to have nutritional food and clean water, and these innocent children are left to pay for the consequences of a greater poverty that is no fault of their own.

It has been reported that half of the population of children under five years of age in Guatemala are malnourished (it is important to note that many Mayans do not even register their births so this number in effect may indeed be even higher). There are dozens of different indigenous groups, each with their own language and their own culture. It is these indigenous communities that suffer the highest poverty and malnutrition rates. In visiting Guatemala, the unequal distribution of wealth is obvious. Cities are full of businesses and development, and appear to be prosperous. However, in rural and/or indigenous areas, people sleep on the ground, live in huts, and only eat what they produce themselves. This is partially due to the Guatemalan Civil War, lasting from 1960 to 1996, which targeted the Mayan people and left them and those that aided them, outcasts of society.

There is hope for helping these children, as malnutrition can be overcome. Change can be attained by providing: parental education, health care and information & immediate nutritional intervention. In these things, we secure the right of every Guatemalan child to have the nutrients essentially needed to develop into a healthy and productive member of society.

Malnutrition is not only an effect of poverty, it perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Much research shows that children who are undernourished tend to suffer from learning difficulties and end up poorer. Proper feeding is the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty. Malnourishment of the mothers during pregnancy and nursing, as well as undernourishment of the children in the first 1000 days has a direct correlation to the high incidence of special needs children in the country.

Unlike Canada and the USA, there are no social programs to address this issue in Guatemala.

It is the goal of The Dig to address these issues directly through The Centre of Hope (Centro de Esperanza). We provide therapies and rehabilitation opportunities for children with special needs, malnourished children and their families, educational programs for the Guatemalan and indigenous Mayan population focusing on education, health, nutrition and agriculture. By providing access to educational & therapy programs this will aid the people to learn not only what to do but how to do it. Introducing them first to basic concepts of health and nutrition and then providing them education and practical ways to plant, raise and prepare foods to empower them to become healthy and self-sustaining once more as their ancestors were.

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