The costs of daily living are rising around the world and it is really felt here in the rural highlands of Guatemala. A local friend told me that men earn about 25 -30 quetsales a day working in rural jobs which is about $3.50 a day — if they are able to find a job. This amounts to about $100 a month. Jobs are very hard to find and that is why it is critical for children to get an education. If is next to impossible to find a good job with out a university or prep degree. Another friend in Guatemala earns about $3.50 a day and is very glad to have a job — but he works a full day, every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no time off for Christmas or any other holiday. His wife spends about 6 hours a day doing backstrap weaving then trys to sell the weavings to help with family income.
Some typical prices at the market for food for the family is: 1 pound of beef- $2.66; 1 pound of chicken- $1.65; 1 pound of dried beans/frijoles- 55 cents; 1 pound of rice- 45 cents; dried corn for tortillas for a day- 60 cents; 1 orange- 15 cents; 1 cantaloupe- $2.00. As you can see it would be difficult to buy enough food when you make $3.50 a day and have all the other expenses of a family. Often families will have tortillas, beans and rice for a mid day meal and a few cooked vegetables if they have extra money. At night for dinner it is often only tortillas or bread and coffee. It is very difficult to have a balanced diet when you have so little money to purchase food — very few vegetables, almost no fruit is bought at market, and rarely meat or milk.
I just read an article thru the Reuters.com website that the Guatemala government will be giving out cash and fertilizers to help the poorest of its citizens. This emergency money is being given to thousands of women in the poorest areas to buy food and the fertilizers will be given to help the farmers grow more crops. The article notes that one of every two children in Guatemala is already malnourished –the 6th highest rate of chronic child malnutrition in the world, right after Afghanistan . With this rising cost of food more children will become malnourished even with emergency money for food which is supposed to be between $40 and $80 a month.
Our help to the women’s groups provides an income and therefore food for the children in the families with each and every handcraft we sell.
You can really make a difference in a child´s life by helping us educate them or in a woman´s life and her entire family with the purchase of her handcrafts. The women we work with don´t want a hand out – they want to work in order to help provide for their family. Try to remember these women when you need a birthday, Christmas or other gifts throughout the year. Each sale of their handcrafts gives them dollars to help feed their family and educate their children.