Guatemalan women

A Story of Hope from Guatemala

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"I learned a lot of beautiful things like how to take care of my boy and feed him well so that he wouldn’t get sick.”


When Norma discovered she was going to have a baby three years ago, she was nervous.

At age 20, she didn’t have a lot of experience outside of helping her mother around the house.  


collecting water in Guatemala

Norma collects water with her son Victor Adelson, 5, from rain water retention tanks supplied by CRS. She uses the water to maintain her family orchard and fruit trees they have planted with training they received from a CRS food security program.

Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS


She was old enough to know that for young families in her impoverished mountainous region of Totonicapan, Guatemala, finding work and putting food on the table is an ongoing challenge.

There are few job opportunities in this remote, ethnically Mayan area, where most families rely on an annual harvest of beans and corn to get by. And a lingering drought that began in 2015 has shrunk annual harvests even more, forcing many people to migrate in search of work as day laborers. 

“When I was young, I remember, that my mom and dad didn’t have money to buy eggs,” says Norma. “My mom had a couple of chickens and she would split one egg amongst her four children and that was really hard for all of us.”

Norma wanted more for her son Victor.


picking oranges in Guatemala

Norma and her son Victor harvest oranges from trees planted near her house in Chuizacasiguan, Guatemala.

Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS


She signed up for a CRS food security program that helps women with young children grow more nutritious food, understand the importance of hygiene and nutrition, and increase their use of medical services.

During her pregnancy, and for two years after Victor was born, Norma received a monthly food package that included rice, oil and soy-corn meal. Meanwhile, she attended monthly weigh-in meetings to make sure Victor was growing healthy and strong. She learned how to grow foods like cabbage and cauliflower in a small garden at home and to raise pigs and chickens and incorporate their meat and eggs into the family diet.

 “The food the program gave me, that was what I ate when I was pregnant with my baby, and it helped because I was on my own and I had everything I needed,” she says. “And I learned a lot of beautiful things like how to take care of my boy and feed him well so that he wouldn’t get sick.”


Guatemalan mom helping other moms

Norma Candelaria Pu Perpuac helps mothers with children under five years with health care activities such as weight and height control.

Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS


Today, Norma is what is known as a “mother monitor,” a member of a small but effective group of volunteers who continue to learn, among other skills, how to prevent malnutrition and common conditions like diarrhea and pneumonia through healthy diets and sound hygiene practices. She shares these skills with other families through community workshops and household visits.

“It makes me feel proud to be able to share with other women the experience I had in the program and the lessons I learned,” she says.