Simply put, there is no such program that I have encountered in the past 20 years of being involved with the investigation and implementation of such programs. If only it was so simple. Governments and NGOs have thrown 3 trillion dollars at poverty, and it appears that we are not much better than when such serious funding began.
When Heather and I travelled the world to observe children’s projects, we discovered many specific projects focused only on one approach like employment, health, or education. But the reality is that if you only have one of these capacities, it may not lift you, or your family out of the legacy of poverty. You may be educated, but if you do not have your health or employment, this is not a solution. If you have your health, but no education or job, this won’t help either.
After our 10 month investigative journey to a variety of charitable social projects, we concluded that Project Somos needed to be designed to address education, health and employment. Young minds cannot retain learning without good nutrition. Thus we have a nutrition program we most of the food coming from the onsite organic farm of Somos.
Good employment in Guatemala will not be found without a solid education. The average indigenous girl only spends 1.8 years in school. Certainly there can be an improvement of this reality. Learning English in Guatemala greatly improves one’s opportunity of employment and doubles the level of salary.
300,000 Guatemalans illegally migrate to the USA every year. This is not so much because of the allure of the “American Dream”, but propelled by the nightmare of seeing one’s family, undernourished and suffering without any local opportunities to pursue. Best to offer opportunities for a better life in the mother country.
This all being said, I would prefer a “silver bullet” to remedy the profound social, political and cultural problems in Guatemala. The holistic approach costs more and takes time, but it goes deeper with a better chance of long-term success. You are correct in believing that a singular program in health, education or employment will assist people without such local opportunities. Will it completely solve the legacy of pervasive poverty?
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