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

Retalhuleu is a city and municipality in southwestern Guatemala. The city has 90,500 inhabitants. Its port is used for the export of coffee, lumber and sugar. It is estimated that 40% of Retalhuleu's population lives below the poverty line. 60% lack access to basic sanitation and 40% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Children and young people growing up in poverty need extra support so that they stay healthy and safe.

Since 1980, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Retalhuleu.

Of children between 6-25 months old have anemia

Children risk malnutrition

Around 56% of children under 2 years of age have anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. It has negative effects on children's physical and cognitive development, behavior and academic performance. Children suffering from malnutrition and anemia have higher mortality rates, lower educational attainment, and the prospect of low-wage jobs later in life. Studies show that indigenous children and children living in rural areas are most at risk. The southwestern part of the country has the highest percentage of malnourished children under the age of five and the highest anemia rate.

Children aged 7-14 years old work

Children forced to work

Families experiencing financial hardship living near the Samala volcano in Retalhuleu crush volcanic rock on the banks of the Samala River. Children from these families also break rocks to supplement household income by selling gravel. It takes a 13-year-old boy about three days to crush one cubic meter of stone using only a hammer. Children working as stone crushers risk their health every day. Flying stone splinters can cause serious eye injuries, as well as lifting heavy loads of gravel can cause back and muscle problems. Families need support so that their children don’t have to do this dangerous work.

Your support makes a difference for children in Retalhuleu

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
We support families to stay together. If children cannot grow up with their family of origin, we support them to form lifelong bonds (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

How your support helps in Retalhuleu

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.