Latest update

Poverty is widespread and entrenched in Guatemala, with years of political instability and widening inequality partly to blame. Rural and indigenous populations are worst affected.

Hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020 devastated lives and caused major damage to crops and infrastructure. Frequent natural disasters have increased levels of food insecurity for Guatemalans already at risk.

Chronic malnutrition and growth stunting are significant concerns for Guatemalan children, with the malnutrition rate of children under 5 being one of the highest in the world.

Standing as pillars of strength and hope in their communities, Compassion's more than 250 Guatemalan church partners are deeply committed to serving children in poverty.

Watch the video update below to learn more about the work of our church partners in Guatemala.

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Country update

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for the children, families and local church partners we serve in Guatemala.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray for students involved in a youth leadership program in the southwestern region of Guatemala, including Frandy, Mariam, Jefte and Daniela.
  • Pray that God will raise up young Christian leaders to impact their communities.
  • Pray for protection over Guatemalan children who are most vulnerable to child labour.
  • Pray for provision and health for babies, children and youth experiencing growth stunting and wasting due to malnutrition.
  • Pray that God’s peace, love and joy would be with the youth suffering from mental health challenges.
  • Pray for the continued encouragement and wisdom of the staff as they serve the children and families in their communities.
  • Pray that Guatemala's new government will make just and wise decisions.
Hope in the face of disaster

Hope in the face of disaster

Cristina and Ariel’s lives changed forever after the tragic death of their mother and the loss of their house due to a mudslide. Thanks to their local Compassion centre, their spirits were encouraged by learning Bible verses as they waited for their new home to be built.   Read more open_in_new

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


of children under the age of 5 are malnourished


of people over the age of 15 can’t read and write

Guatemala is known for its vast rainforests, towering volcanoes and stunning brightly coloured textiles. Spanish is the nation’s official language, though each of the 21 different Mayan communities have their own dialects.

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 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 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

04 Mar, 2015

8 Powerful Photos of Children's Rooms in the Developing World

These photos are a fascinating, and at times confronting, insight into the lives of children around the world in Compassion’s program... Read more

14 Mar, 2018

Why Do My Sponsored Child's Letters Sound the Same?

It can be disappointing if your sponsored child hasn’t responded to your questions or even mentioned the letter you sent them. Here’s why this could be happening, plus handy tips to prevent it. .. Read more

07 Sep, 2016

10 Eye-Opening Photos of Classrooms In the Developing World

Most classroom in Australia look fairly similar. Although they might be decorated differently, you can pretty much expect to see the same things—some desks, a board, and maybe some computers. But what about the classrooms of children in Compassion’s programs? We all know education varies across the world, but so do the classrooms! .. Read more