Many of our sponsors at ChildFund Ireland support children in Guatemala, where ChildFund runs programmes that give children and adolescents new opportunities and helps them deal with issues that may be limiting their potential.
The Strong Families programme is one example of how ChildFund is working with older children. This programme engages teens and builds their awareness of how key decisions impact their lives. The goal is to strengthen relationships among children, youth and their parents and open up honest dialogue around tough topics such as parents’ use of harsh discipline at home, teen pregnancy and early marriage, which still negatively impact on young girls in Guatemala’s rural indigenous communities.
I have dreams for my life
Through education and more conversations among peers and families, we’re gradually seeing positive changes for children and youth. As María, the oldest of eight siblings, explains:
“When I first started the programme, I didn’t have the confidence to talk to my parents about my dreams or what I wanted to do in my life. My father didn’t want me to attend because he said that I was coming only to find a husband. Now they understand that I’m not interested in marrying very young; I have dreams for my life, I want to keep studying, go to university and become an anthropologist.”
Having the support of community leaders is critical to the programme’s success. Pedro, who supports our programme in one of the rural communities told us:
“I’m proud and thankful that these dialogues among young girls and their parents are happening, that they all know more now about their rights. This is a positive change.”
One of the girl’s mothers, Rosa, is equally positive: “We have learned to motivate our children and recognise their achievements at school and at home,” she tells us. “When children receive motivation they open up and share, and we can understand each other better,” she adds.
The Strong Families initiative is already having a positive impact on many young girls. Voices that were not being heard now have a say in decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.