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Stories from the Field

Sonia’s Family is Empowered to Create Change in Guatemala

Janae C Author
By Janae Curtain on March 3, 2020

At only 15 years old, Sonia has overcome various challenges in her life. Losing her mother four years ago prompted her father to step in and take on the roles within the family that are commonly handled by mothers. With the help of our partner CARE, their family now receives nutritious Rise Against Hunger meals and also volunteers to provide help prepare meals for the community.

Living in Masagua, a town in Guatemala that has an economy primarily supported by the sugar milling industry, there are mostly seasonal jobs available during harvest. However, during the off season, the town sees an increase in job insecurity and economic challenges. Because of this, and since the death of Sonia’s mother, her father began to find new ways to support their family. He has learned how to cook, does the cleaning and takes care of Sonia and her four siblings.

At the local primary school, where Sonia is currently in sixth grade, 700 students receive a Rise Against Hunger meal distributed by partner CARE. The mothers normally help to prepare the food at school, but Sonia’s father also volunteers.

Sonia explains, “My dad says that since we study here, it is good that he comes and helps out.”

Due to the area’s economic crisis, many people are unable to afford as much food and are, as a result, eating fewer meals. The school feeding helps the students remain healthy.

“Children come to school without eating breakfast, there is nothing to eat at home. Here, they come to feed themselves,” Sonia said.

With a dream of continuing her studies, Sonia hopes to receive a scholarship to attend the local middle school.

Claudia, one of the mothers who helps prepare food at the school, has assisted with the school feeding program since it began in 2017. She says the program is important because “we have great economic needs here, there are many underweight children.”

Over time, Claudia has seen how the diet changes have impacted the children, explaining that “they look healthier, they are happy, and they enjoy participating in school activities.” The school feeding program has also financially assisted the families, including Claudia’s, because they do not have to purchase rice.

Miriam, the food and nutrition teacher, raises awareness of nutrition and food hygiene in the community. Through her teachings, the mothers, along with Sonia’s father, have learned the benefits of the meals being prepared at school and also use their knowledge when making food purchases, buying more fruits and greens for their families. For families at risk of food insecurity, they are also supported by CARE through distributing Rise Against Hunger meals to those families, too.

Through the help of the caretakers at school and Sonia’s father, their initiative to make change is building a healthier environment for the town of Masagua. Having a father to look up to, Sonia is encouraged for a brighter future and plans to continue to help her community for the next generation.

To help girls like Sonia to reach their full potential, please donate today or take action now to help a family in need.