Having gained its independence from a colonial Spanish government in 1821, Guatemala experienced many years of political instability that included a variety of military and civilian governments and a 36-year guerrilla war. By the time the conflict was finally resolved in 1996, 100,000 lives had been lost and about a million people displaced.
The civil war also decimated education and health facilities, and many homes and towns were destroyed. Although new peace accords signed in1996 recognise equal rights for all citizens, there is much inequality in Guatemalan society. The indigenous population remain the poorest in the country, suffering from some of the highest illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition rates in the Americas.
The people of Guatemala are in great need of the life-changing hope that child sponsorship can bring to their families and communities. You can sponsor a child in Guatemala  through ActionAid, one of the world's leading relief and development agencies. They have developed a child sponsorship scheme which links people in more affluent countries with individual children in developing countries around the world.
In conjunction with partner organisations, ActionAid has been working with communities in Guatemala since 1996 to improve access to basic sanitation, health and education facilities. It has invested in the training of health workers and the provision of health services. It also invests in the improvement of education facilities, and it has championed the need for poor people to know their rights, and to come together to fight for them.
ActionAid supports micro-finance companies that make small loans and credit available to business start-ups. It also works with community organisations to ensure equitable management of Ecuador’s vast natural resources. At times of natural disaster ActionAid has been on hand to provide emergency relief.
In the 37 years since its inception, ActionAid has reached many millions people in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and it has developed a wealth of expertise in fighting poverty. The charity partners with local organisations and recognises the need to work with communities on their own terms, and not impose solutions. By getting to know the culture intimately ActionAid workers have the best possible opportunity to affect a lasting end to poverty.
Sponsoring a child in Guatemala  today will cost you only 50 pence per day. Your money will also go towards development efforts in the town in which the child you sponsor lives. This will ensure the most efficient and effective use of your money.
As a child sponsor you will be able arrange a personal visit with your child and to communicate with them. You can also look forward to receiving special letters and drawings, including a new photograph every two years. Additionally, you get to see where and how your money is being spent by keeping in touch with your child's local ActionAid office, and through regular editions of Common Cause, ActionAid's newsletter.
You may also like to consider sponsoring a child through the following trusted agencies: