Located in the lush hillsides of Northern Chimaltenango lies the town of San Juan Comalapa. Just a little farther is the village of Pamamus, big enough to have its own public school, but too small to be found on most Guatemalan maps.
Despite being situated among some of the most productive farmland in the country, almost 70% of the children in Pamamus are clinically malnourished.
This is because the farms are owned by corporations who carefully control what can be planted. An errant tomato seed among their corn or palm crops can wreak havoc, so even smaller personal gardens are discouraged.
The poverty is overwhelming. A young mother once told us that she tries to find the money for eggs once or twice a week and a chicken for Sunday. This is about all the protein she can provide for her children.
A Couple of Christians started including Pamamus in its Christmas programs three short years ago. This year, we started travelling to the area more regularly with food and other assistance, such as boots, shoes, blankets, and pants.
The school offers us time and space to stage events and distributions. We are tying our donations into a “stay-in-school” effort. Our counseling program is extending to Pamamus’ children this month although some of our topics have to be tweaked.
These kids do not have fast food or pizza. They subsist on beans, corn, and bread. When we brought hot dogs to an event, they didn’t know what to do with them. Most ate the bread and hot dog separately.
Most homes do not have televisions or computers. These kids are not walking around with smart phones.
Pamamus is difficult to get to. The short distance between our city location and the school can require hours of driving time because of the terrain. During the height of the rainy season, the roads are practically impassable.
But we are determined to expand our work there to include some kind of nutritional program along with our other assistance.