Sunday, February 27, 2011

Manuela proudly holds her school contract

Manuela is required to go to school in order to obtain the monthly food donations from Finding Freedom Through Friendship. She can be seen holding her FFF contract in the above photo. 
By requiring her family to commit to Manuela's education in order to receive their food staples, FFF is enabling Manuela and other children in rural Guatemalan families to have leverage within their household dynamic. Making sure a child attends school in the more remote areas of Guatemala takes stamina and determination. Children often have to walk long distances to get to school. They may not speak Spanish, which is spoken in schools, as a primary language. Parents may be illiterate, and therefore might not value education. School expenses often hamper desire to educate children. 
When FFF facilitators present single mothers with contracts, we are making a statement on our belief that educating their children is a collaboration of efforts between FFF and the family. The majority of our mothers have to sign using their thumbprint (as did Manuela's, note above), which demonstrates the need for education even further. As the head of their households, an illiterate single mother is more at risk for becoming the victim of theft, for being taken advantage of financially, or needing to marry in order to provide for her children. Her ability to earn a life-sustaining salary is very restricted. FFF hopes to help break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty within the households of each single mother we assist. One contract at a time!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finding Freedom through Friendship Board Members Visit Guatemala

Mary Kay, Mike and Jody recently visited the north western part of Guatemala for a week to participate in a medical mission trip. While together, we were able to meet with two of our Guatemalan board members, Fabiola and Vinicio. We were also excited to visit with Jude, who is overseeing the construction of our fifth home for a single mother in Guatemala.

Update on Poverty Indicators in Guatemala (The Guatemalan Times)

Poverty in Guatemala increased from 51% to 54.1% -55%, according to the latest data published by the Central American Business Intelligence, CABI. CABI informed that poverty, infant and maternal mortality have increased in Guatemala due to the global economic crisis between 2009 and 2010. This has severely affected local efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In their study, CABI reported that the fall in economic growth in Guatemala caused the poverty level to rise from 51 percent to 54.1 percent and in some cases to 55 percent. Among the causes that increased poverty, the agency cited the loss of formal jobs, reduction in real wages (inflation) and bankruptcy of small businesses.

The agency stressed that the annual cost to address maternal and child mortality in Guatemala is not high, it takes only 0.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). If the investment in health is reduced it will adversely affect progress recorded in the field. The decrease of remittances of 9.3% in 2009 (Bank of Guatemala) had a very negative impact in the fight against poverty in Guatemala, in addition, despite the boost from programs like Social Cohesion, which distributes 300 Quetzals, (approximately US $ 38.4 depending on the exchange rate) per family, poverty has risen since 2007.

Guatemala has improved access to primary education and quality of education; however, there are serious deficiencies in pre-primary and basic level. The lack of sustainability of the current government’s social programs is another very important consideration for the future of the fight against poverty.

Sources: CIMAC News, The Guatemala Times, Banco de Guatemala.