Latest update

For the last two months the number of active COVID-19 cases in Guatemala has hovered around 7000. As of 9 December, the total number of related deaths was 4311. Theaters, bars, gyms, national parks and some tourist sites have reopened. Limits on attendance and other restrictive measures are in place in areas where COVID-19 continues to spread, including Guatemala City and most other cities. Schools remain closed, and all individuals must wear masks in public spaces. Hurricanes Eta and Iota have increased suffering by causing floods, destruction of roads and buildings, missing persons and deaths.

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COVID-19 in Guatemala

How is Compassion currently operating in Guatemala?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Compassion child development centres have suspended in-person classes and activities as well as home visits.

    Volunteer tutors reach out virtually to each child every week to pray with them, and they report back to the staff any family concerns or needs. They have also distributed art kits and children’s magazines.

    Local church partners have delivered 438,600 food packs and 159,500 hygiene kits to children and their families. Additionally, they have facilitated medical support for 7700 individuals.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    The majority of letters are delayed in Guatemala, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your sponsored child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Guatemala. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to caregivers, where appropriate. This applies to family gifts and child gifts. Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Guatemala who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Provision, comfort and hope for Anthony and his family as they begin to rebuild their home as they lost everything in the last two hurricanes.
  • God would be with Elfego and his mother as they begin to rebuild their lives after the hurricanes devastated their home.
  • God would provide financially for Crista’s family as she begins to apply for scholarships to continue her education.
  • Healing and complete recovery for Isaias’s mother, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
  • God would provide the resources that Benjamin needs to continue his studies next year.
Making face masks in Guatemala

Making face masks in Guatemala

When face masks and hand sanitiser suppliers ran out of stock, former sponsored child Yonathan wanted to help the vulnerable in his Guatemalan community.   Read more open_in_new

Crisis Reports from Guatemala

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    Hurricane Eta in Guatemala (Crisis Update) 22 Dec, 2020

    The situation

    The northern part of the country was impacted extensively and some communities are still flooded.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local church partners affected: 4 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 790

    New information

    The affected families received immediate relief using Disaster Relief funds. Compassion Guatemala plans on creating a project proposal for reconstruction.


    Please continue to pray for the provision and the recovery process.

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    Hurricane in Iota in Guatemala (Crisis Update) 22 Dec, 2020

    The situation

    The most affected communities are Izabel, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, and Zacapa. Damaged roads and bridges have isolated some communities and flooding damaged many homes. Communities that were already affected by Hurricane Eta were also affected by Hurricane Iota.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local church partners affected: 0 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 89

    New information

    Affected families received relief support such as water, food, hygiene items, as well as temporary refuge. Compassion Guatemala plans on providing recovery support for destroyed homes through a Critical Needs project.


    Please continue to pray for the affected children and families, as they recover from damages and losses.

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    Hurricane Eta in Guatemala (Crisis Update) 20 Nov, 2020

    The situation

    Hurricane Iota has now affected the same areas of Guatemala, so they are still dealing with heavy rains and flooding.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local church partners affected: 3 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 741

    New information

    Affected families have received relief support (e.g. food, water, clothes). Most families are living in temporary refuges/shelters or with family and friends.


    Please continue to pray for protection and provision for affected children, families, and church partners.

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    Hurricane Iota in Guatemala 17 Nov, 2020

    The situation

    The most affected communities are Izabel, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, and Zacapa. Damaged roads and bridges have isolated some communities and flooding damaged many homes. Communities that were already affected by Hurricane Eta were also affected by Hurricane Iota.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local church partners affected: not yet confirmed Number of Compassion assisted children affected: not yet confirmed

    New information

    The affected families have been provided with food, water and shelter. The impact assessment is in process.


    Please pray for the protection and provision of children, families and church partners.


Please note: Due to the current pandemic, most child development centres in Guatemala are temporarily closed. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Guatemala

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 12 visit the Compassion centre for three hours a day, two days a week.
  • Students aged 12 to 19 attend the centre for four hours on Saturdays.

Compassion Program Activities in Guatemala

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Compassion assisted children in Guatemala typically attend the child development centre at their local church before or after school. Older students attend on Saturdays. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Guatemala.

Devotional time - Children are taught to pray.

Spiritual lessons - Children sing songs and learn Bible stories. Young children aged three to five receive a preschool Bible, those aged six to eight receive a children’s picture Bible, while older sponsored children receive a youth Bible, then a study Bible.

Break and snack time - Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships. They are often provided with a substantial snack during program activities. A snack often consists of cereal and a banana, a sandwich and fruit.

Social-emotional lessons - Children learn conflict resolution skills and how to develop healthy self-esteem. Many of the children come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

Lunch and social time - Children generally receive lunch at the centre. A typical meal usually consists of meat (chicken or beef), rice, vegetables and tortillas. They may also have chicken broth, a piece of chicken, vegetables and tortillas. They often receive a hot beverage called atol made from different cereals like corn and wheat. In the hot areas of the country, they might receive lemonade or juice.

Health lessons - Children learn practical health and hygiene lessons.

Letter writing and career planning - Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

In addition to Compassion’s curriculum, older students can choose to undergo vocational training to build their skills in carpentry, pastry baking, seamstress training, beautician skills, or handicrafts. Some centres have partnered with a government organisation INTECAP (Technical Training and Productivity Institute) to provide sponsored children with the skills they need to become competitive in the workforce. Parents are invited to meetings to discuss topics such as child development and health issues.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Guatemala

Poverty is rising in Guatemala, with indigenous people and rural communities most affected. As crops fail in ongoing drought, many families are gripped by famine. Almost half of the nation’s children are chronically malnourished—one of the highest rates in the world.

After almost four decades of civil war ended in 1996, Guatemala made significant ground in the fight against poverty.

Despite its economy being the largest in Central America, the nation is still racked by some of the worst poverty, malnutrition and maternal-child mortality rates in the region—and the gap between rich and poor is growing.

There are many underlying issues: crop failure caused by drought and a changing climate; political corruption and cronyism; a lack of protections for workers leading to rampant wage exploitation; rising violence at the hands of drug cartels and gangs. Their combined destruction has seen a record wave of Guatemalans flee the country in recent years, most headed for Mexico and onward to the United States border.

In all of this, it is the poorest families that suffer most. Many are entirely dependent on remittances sent back by family members who have emigrated to the US—and more and more of those who haven’t gone yet will go soon, unless these underlying issues are addressed.

Local churches across the nation are stepping up to protect their people from extortion and violence, to offer shelter and food where they can, to meet basic needs and provide children with an environment of safety and security, where they can learn, grow and play without fear.

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Stories from Compassion around the world

12 Apr, 2018

What Possessions Do Children Living in Poverty Treasure Most?

From remote, isolated tribal communities to bustling cities and crowded slums, 10 children in our Child Sponsorship Program share their treasured possessions. These are their beautiful, surprising and funny answers... Read more

29 May, 2020

How Will COVID-19 Affect the Developing World's Economy?

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a major impact on those living in poverty, likely for years to come. Learn how... Read more

01 Aug, 2019

How Honey Bees Put Herik on a Path to Sweet Success

Relentless drought and rising gang activity are squeezing the life out of Herik’s town in Guatemala. He’s watched many of his friends fall into crime or flee for the Mexico border. But with a little help from some Hymenopterans, he’s found a third way... Read more