The Challenge : Poverty in Guatemala

Can you imagine living on a budget of one dollar a day per person in your family?

What would you eat?

What happens when you need a doctor?

In one of the Ghettos of Guatemala City

By Arwen McGilvra-

A home in the ghettoIn Guatemala, nearly 8 million people live in rural areas, and of those, 57% live in poverty, which means they have a budget of about one dollar a day. When you talk to people here in Guatemala about it, they’ll say that it’s hard, but that you can survive. And it’s true, you can survive with one dollar a day.

But there is a catch: the truth is, survive is all you can do; these families don’t have the luxury of sending their children to school — they have to stay home to work with the family. Yet many families are able to bond and grow despite these conditions.

“I still can’t wrap my brain around it,” says Beth Godwin, describing the poverty she saw during a recent trip to Guatemala with Dorie’s Promise. “As much as I tried, nothing prepared me for what I witnessed. People, hundreds of them, including children, scrounging and tearing through GARBAGE in order to find anything to sell for food. How can this be possible just a short 3-hour plane ride from our comfortable homes and well-stocked pantries?”

How do these children living in the ghettos and working in the dumps grow up? Most of them just want to make it from one day to the next. Their greatest achievement is the next meal, or maybe a pair of shoes that fit.

Many people in Guatemala live on less than a dollar a dayRhonda Reinke also shared her experience with us: “The smell of the dump was nauseating even from high on the cliff. It was surreal. Yet it is the reality that some live with daily.

Even in the midst of this, there is hope.

Many agencies have projects in place in an attempt to create change, including the government, international aid, and nonprofit organizations from around the world. What’s unique at Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise is that we work in multifaceted ways to relieve the poverty.

We want to challenge you to join us in our efforts….

  • Poverty and unemployment lead some people to drugs, gangs, prostitution, theft … ultimately resulting in families living on the street. Children growing up in these situations experience more than just hunger — they face abuse, neglect, and hopelessness. These are the children we want to reach — these are the children who live in our home. Many of them come from these sorts of situations and would be living on the street without Dorie’s Promise.

We currently only have room for 40 children. If we are able to reach our goal of 100% sponsorship, we will be able to use additional gifts to expand our ministry to serve even more children!

  • Giving a water filter to a family in needSecondly, our water for life ministry provides water filters and pilas (a kind of sink) to needy families in the ghettos. Without water to clean your hands or your dishes, or for preparing food, sickness becomes a major problem. Not to mention the fact that clean water just isn’t available or affordable to those living in poverty. The water that many people drink is full of contaminants, and women and girls often spend much of their day collecting water and carrying it back to their homes. According to Gary White, co-founder of, the lost productivity of people collecting water is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at WalMart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger.*

Water Filters The cost to provide a water filter for one family is just $40. The filter will provide clean drinking and usable water for a family of four for three months. In the past year we have provided 130 water filters to families. It’s good start, but we’d like to double or triple that number next year.

Pilas A pila is the main tool for washing and cleaning and holding clean water in the slums and ghettos of Guatemala City, where clean running water simply doesn’t exist. Now you can provide a pila for a family for just $50.

  • Lastly, we have our mission teams, groups visiting Dorie’s Promise Guatemala that have the opportunity to connect with our kids and be the hands and feet of the Gospel. Visiting teams help us install pilas and concrete floors and distribute the water filters. They experience the poverty firsthand and return to their homes to be ambassadors, raising awareness and funds, becoming prayer warriors and sponsors.

We invite you to join us. Check out our online handbook and then fill out an application online.

“I will never forget the time I spent in Guatemala with the Dorie’s Promise team. It was thought-provoking, heartbreaking, soul-stirring, and gut-wrenching all at once.” —Beth Godwin


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