Flag of Guatemala

Transforming Lives

BEFORE: Few Guatemalan children are enrolled in preschool (43 percent), junior high (28 percent) or high school (16 percent)

Nearly a decade after its 36-year civil war ended, cultural and economic gaps persist in Guatemala. Education is plagued by a lack of access, poor teacher training and insufficient resources - especially for rural children. Although 60 percent of urban students complete third grade, only 30 percent of rural students do. Two-thirds of Maya first-graders are taught by instructors who do not speak their mother tongue, and 76 percent of rural children drop out before completing primary school.

BEFORE: Women are learning about systems of the human body in their language, Quiché

The World Health Organization does not consider traditional birth attendants sufficiently skilled to manage normal deliveries and diagnose, manage, and refer obstetric complications. USAID is supporting midwife training in villages across Guatemala. In the above photo, women are learning about systems of the human body in their language, Quiché. Small children often attend training sessions with their mothers, who do not have childcare options.

Photo of the bottles before transformation

Wine, champagne, and beer bottles that are considered rubbish by most are thrown out at restaurants and residences in upscale neighborhoods in Guatemala City. A small team of artisans collects these bottles and transforms them into works of art. Before they met these bottles, these artisans were either unemployed or scraping a living as day laborers.

AFTER - This hearing room at the newly renovated court is open 24 hours a day

This hearing room at the newly renovated court is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Three judges rotate shifts at the court, ensuring that access to justice is always within reach. The 24-hour courts prevent overcrowding in pre-trial detention facilities by providing timely alternatives to imprisonment, such as bail. This system presents a deterrent to police corruption because police can no longer detain suspects for lengthy periods without court orders.

BEFORE: Farmers put their health and even their lives at risk when using slash and burn techniques.

After learning about safer clearing techniques from a USAID-sponsored awareness campaign, students painted this sign, which says: “Don’t Burn the Forests — Or do you want to end life?” Through its programs, USAID has helped farmers realize that by choosing other clearing methods not only are they saving the forests — they are saving lives.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015

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