The Guatemalan government has declared a state of emergency after a devastating drought has ravaged the crops -- and livelihoods -- of more than 256,000 families. In a country already battling one of the world’s highest rates of chronic under-nutrition in children under the age of five, the situation is desperate. Salesian missionaries have rushed in to help.
Across the country, thousands of cattle have already perished. Farmers estimate that up to 40 percent of pea, green bean and broccoli crops will be lost. Up to 80 percent of corn and beans -- staples of the Guatemalan diet -- will wither on the stalk this season. Sadly, as a result, an estimated 500,000 children under the age of five are at imminent risk of starvation, and people all around the country face a critical loss of food security.
“This is normally the rainy season in Central America,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Yet it hasn’t rained a drop in Guatemala since the beginning of June. The situation is truly calamitous -- and heartbreaking.”
In response to the crisis, Salesian missionaries on the ground in the municipalities of Alta Verapaz, Peten and Quetzaltenango are mobilizing to assist more than 130,000 people in desperate need of basic assistance. Their immediate concern is to provide rice, beans, clean water and medicines to address malnutrition. These missionaries also hope to expand relief efforts so they can help more people and provide additional services to those in need.
The kind generosity of our many friends -- as well as established partnerships with international relief organizations -- makes this crucial work possible.
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