Children with a ‘CH’ prefix are on the Chixocol (pronounced ‘Shee-sho-kol’) sponsorship programme, and live high in the mountains – home to most of the Mayans, one of the people groups of Guatemala. In fact only 25% of the national population now live in the mountains as survival is so hard.
The children in the mountains live in very rough conditions, extremely isolated from the outside world, though there is now some water and electricity being supplied to the homes nearer the road for the few who have enough spare crops to afford it. The people basically live from the land, which explains in part their malnutrition and dietary deficiencies.
Life is hard for children – 10% of the children visited by our evangelist teams have an alcoholic parent; 5% have been deserted by father, mother, or both; and 23% of the fathers go to the coast for four to six months each year to work in the sugar cane fields and coffee plantations.
Chixocol is the largest of our feeding programmes and our 6 cooks serve well over 900 meals on each day there. Early in the morning they start making about 2000 tortillas, prior to preparing a well balanced main course of meat, vegetables and pasta or rice. In November 2000 we opened a new purpose-built steel framed central kitchen in Chixocol, with new dining facilities for the local children, as the termites were making serious inroads to the older wooden buildings!
The programme is fairly close to our mountain clinic and dental surgery, which makes treating these children far easier. Living Water International has planted a Church here, which is thriving. The large new church building has electricity and doubles as a hall for the Bible classes, which the children have after the meals have been served.