Why Guatemala?

Why have we chosen Guatemela for our first humanitarian projects, a country known to tourists for its natural beauty, its important archeological sites, witness to the ancient Mayan culture, and for its mild “eternal spring” climate?
Certainly not for the above-mentioned reasons!

Everyone will have heard of the Maya, the ancient population that settled in Southern Mexico and Central America, and of its millennial culture. But not many are aware of their recent history.
The population of Guatemala has suffered 36 years of civil war, which only ended in December 1996, and during this period the population of Mayan ethnic origin has been subjected to nothing less than GENOCIDE.
This is confirmed by reports from the Catholic Church and the UN Commission (MINUGUA – United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala) as well as the autobiographical testimonials from Rigoberta Menchú Tum, winter of the Nobel Peace Prize 1992.

It is not our task to provide historical facts here – for those interested please refer to the “Information” page for our recommendations for further reading.

The reality is that nearly the entire population of Mayan origin lives in poverty and that the children suffer from typical diseases caused by malnutrition. The staple diet is maize and the daily meals often consist more or less exclusively of tortillas, prepared from the mashed cereal.

Illiteracy levels are extremely high and in rural areas can affect 75% of the female population. According to a study conducted by UNICEF in 1999 (“The condition of infancy in Guatemala”) 41% of children of school age were not registered for primary school. Another UNICEF study from 2000 clearly demonstrates the correlation between the lack of basic school education and poverty.
We have also observed that fewer humanitarian organisations are present compared to other poor countries and countries with development challenges (out of respect for other cultures we prefer not to use the current definitions “third world” or “under-developed countries”).

These are the reasons that led us to the “Centro Educativo” (“Educational Centre”) project. In 1997 its founder, the German charity “Zukunft für Kinder”, presented this project to our sister organisation in Vienna, which supported it financially.
Since 1999 the Italian organisation been actively involved in this project and contributes to the further development of the Educational Centre.


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