Buckner Center to Combat Child Abandonment in Guatemala

Analiz G. Schremmer

SAN JOSE PINULA, Guatemala – Buckner opened a new Community Transformation Center on May 25 to serve people in one of Guatemala’s most impoverished communities — San Jose Pinula.

[caption id="attachment_2536" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Many children in the San Jose Pinula community do not go to school, like this child who cares for goats in the streets outside the new center."][/caption]

“We did a socioeconomic study and found that there was great need,” said Liliana Arcely Pineda, Buckner social worker at the CTC. “We found illiteracy, poor health, and malnutrition among children; that’s why we chose this place.”

The CTC will offer English classes, literacy classes, computer classes, a medical clinic and more in collaboration with several community partners. Licensed social workers will also provide personalized case management for families, all with the goal of keeping families together and preventing children from being abused, neglected and abandoned.

“There is an orphanage close by and we want to transform the community so that we can stop filling it with children,” said Roberto Tejada, Buckner director of Community Transformation Centers in Guatemala. “By doing our part, we will keep families together by equipping them with the tools they need to be self sufficient and capable of providing for their children.”

According to Unicef, children under the age of 18 compose more than half of Guatemala’s population. About 50 percent of them, 3.7 million girls and boys, live in poverty. About 23 percent of children are part of the labor force, a cycle which prevents children from receiving an education and provides little hope for their future.

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignright" width="200" caption="This mother and child eagerly toured the new CTC at San Jose Pinula."][/caption]

“We hope that in five or 10 years, there will be a difference in these people’s quality of life,” Tejada said. “We’d like to see young people grow up educated, working in the community and preserving their families.”

Jose Mario Lutin Solares Consejal, who spoke on behalf of the city mayor Victor Reyes Pur at the ribbon cutting ceremony, said that the CTC is “part of what our citizens have always dreamed of. Today we recognize this group of people as being sent here by God. Let us educate children and young people so that we won’t have to correct the adults.” The mayor’s office provides 30 percent of the CTC building’s rent.

Buckner operates similar programs for communities in Guatemala, Ethiopia and Mexico. To learn more about the ways you can support Buckner’s work to prevent child abandonment and abuse, visit www.buckner.org or call 214-758-8050.

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