SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

Jocotán is a town and municipality in the department of Chiquimula, home to indigenous Mayan communities. It is located in the north of the city of Chiquimula, near the border with Honduras, and has over 60,000 inhabitants. Jocotán is one of the communities with the highest levels of poverty in the country. Because Chiquimula is part of an arid corridor, the area is affected by increasing weather extremes that destroy crops and lead to widespread food shortages and extreme poverty. As a result, the department of Chiquimula has the second highest malnutrition rate in Guatemala.

Since 1983, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Jocotán.

Children suffer from malnutrition

Children are malnourished

In Guatemala, the culture in some rural communities views boys and men as the family's main income earners. As a result, boys are more protected and cared for than girls and are less likely to be malnourished. It is not only children under five who are most at risk. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as women between 15 and 45 years of childbearing age, are also at risk. Some children suffer long-term effects due to chronic malnutrition, resulting in 40% less brain development by age 3. These infants may not grow as healthily as they should. In addition, their immune system may be weakened, meaning they are more likely to catch infections.

Girls under age 14 gave birth in 2021

Teenage pregnancies

Over 66% of girls in Guatemala have their first child when they are still under 17 years of age. The number of pregnancies among girls and adolescents in Guatemala has reached alarming proportions. The National Observatory of Sexual and Reproductive Health reported that in 2021, 2,041 girls under the age of 14 gave birth. In the same year, 65,000 pregnancies were registered among girls and adolescents aged 10 to 19. When girls and young women become pregnant, not only is their health in danger, but they are also more likely to drop out of school and training.

Your support makes a difference for children in Jocotán

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Siblings playing outside in the garden. If children cannot grow up with their family of origin, we support them to form lifelong bonds in an alternative family-like environment (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

How your support helps in Jocotán

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.