Friday, November 1, 2013

Guatemala in a tortilla shell

1/1/32.  No, I'm not thinking it's New Years day in the future.  It means: Day One of Poverty Awareness/Day One of Guatemala Focus/Day Thirty-Two of challenge.

I woke up today realizing that it's no longer $0 month and my first instinct was "I can shop!!!" and then I realized--other than rice, beans, and some veggies--there is nothing I need.  What an amazing feeling.  I need nothing.  So blessed!


I'll confess, when I first started researching Guatemala with Donnie I wasn't 100% sure how to spell it.  (Don't judge, all things English class related were never my forte--which I'm assuming has become crystal clear by now.)   Now I can not only spell "Guatemala" I know quite a bit about the country's poverty issues. 

Quick Facts:
  • 50% of all children have chronic malnutrition; in some areas the rate is as high as 90%
  • Guatemala has the highest percentage of malnourished children in all of Latin America
  • 42% of Guatemalan citizens do NOT have access to clean water
  • 75% of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line (defined as an income that is insufficient to purchase a basic basket of goods and services)
  • 58% of the population have incomes below the extreme poverty line 
  • 45% of the population over the age of 15 is illiterate
  • The infant mortality rate is 55 per 1,000 live births
  • The maternal mortality rate is 110 per 100,000 live births
  • 16% of infants suffer from low birth weight
  • Whenever there is a financial crisis within Guatemala, the government cuts education and social sector expenditures (food subsidies, housing allowances, healthcare, etc.) first; showing a lack of willingness to invest in their citizens
Poverty Foods:
  • Tortillas (mostly corn but some flour)
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Bananas
  • Coffee (often times one of the first liquids given to infants there!)
Foods that are available to purchase but often not affordable:
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Chilies
  • Tropical fruits
  • Cocoa
  • Chicken
  • Some beef
  • Diary products (milks and cheeses)
  • Breads
What I found stated over and over again in my research is that for most of the underprivileged it's not that they don't eat, it's that they don't eat well.  Some families live solely on tortillas.  Others are "lucky" enough to add rice and/or beans to their meals.  (I tend to think of malnourished people not eating, not that they can fill tummies with nothing but starchy foods--essentially eating but yet starving their bodies.)   Regardless, the poor are severely lacking in proteins and vitamins. 

I'm not entirely sure what I plan to make and eat during these next nine days.   I know that I will keep my kids healthy and thriving because I am blessed enough to be able to provide the luxurious poverty foods.  An oxymoron--luxurious poverty.  What I haven't decided is if I will be sneaky with how I give them proteins, fruits and veggies (so that they think they're eating as the Guatemalans do) or if I will simply explain _____ items are normal Guatemalan fare and ______ are blessings we have to keep us healthy. 

In an effort to put my money where my mouth is, I will be preparing the family one package a day of a protein meal sent to various places--now including Guatemala.

This pouch offers a remarkable amount of vitamins and protein.  And SIX servings for $1.25!
Thank you Katie for your willingness to send us some!

I do know one thing, with each passing day of this family challenge I have never felt more blessed by my surroundings and possessions, nor have I felt more blessed to be an American.    

A startling video from World Focus on the poverty conditions in Guatemala. 

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