Why Guatemala?

Guatemala, population 13 million, is one of the most impoverished countries in the Americas. The statistics below give some idea of the situation:

• 50% of the population live in poverty

• There is only 4% adult unemployment (a frightening statistic – even the employed live in poverty)

• Child labour rate is 30%

• In 2005 UNICEF estimated the number of orphans at 370,000

• There is no comprehensive national infrastructure to handle such a staggering number of orphans

• Biggest school dropout rate is the first grade (many indigenous not speaking Spanish)

• 68% of students reach the fifth grade

• 35% of students reach high school

• A 35 year civil war ended in 1994 with 200,000 killed and 40,000 disappeared

The plight of Guatemala’s poor, most of whom are indigenous, is relatively unknown. Project Somos has a mandate to improve the living conditions of children and families living in poverty and to increase public awareness of the situation.