Children prefixed ‘ZA’ are on the Zacualpa (pronounced zac-kwalpa) feeding programme and live high in the Quiche (‘kee-chay’) mountains – home to most of the Mayans, one of the main people groups in Guatemala. In fact only about 25% of the national population now live in the mountains as survival is so hard.
Zacualpa is a small market ‘town’ right at the end of the dirt track road, and is one of the few places in the area that has telephone and other services. It thus tends to be a focal point for the scattered mountain peoples. It was also the centre of guerrilla activity during the revolution of the early ’80’s and saw the worst of the bloodshed, and many of the male population being wiped out at that time, leaving a trail of human misery, orphans and broken families. Today, Living Water International has planted a church there and it is pastored by a young Mayan called Goyo – himself a convert through the feeding programme. Life is still 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; 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.
Zacualpa is our second largest feeding programme serving well over 1,000 meals to the children twice a week – Mondays and Thursdays. Our cooks start work early a few miles away in Chixocol making about 2000 tortillas, which are then taken to this programme.
A nutritionally balanced meal typically of meat, vegetables, pasta/rice is also provided, and complemented by a vitamin and mineral supplement drink.
The children are allowed to go back again for as much as they can eat. The purpose-built feeding centre also houses a small office from where the annual updates are administered. There are classrooms above for the Bible classes and activities, and a small room where children are taken for one-to-one time with the workers when you send a letter or gift for your child.
There is a government school in Zacualpa but it is only really accessible to those who live relatively close to the town. Many of the children walk over rough mountain tracks to get to the feeding programme. There is water and electricity in the town, though the roads and many houses defy description! The people basically live from the land, which in part explains their malnutrition and dietary deficiencies.