Nestled in the mountains of San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala sits the small community of Chivoc; however, the hills the people currently reside in were not always home. In 1977, Guatemala was in the middle of a civil war, and the Guatemalan government needed a new location for their Military Academy. The decision was made for this new academy to be in the very valley where the people of Chivoc were residing. The community, now of roughly 2,000 families, was displaced from the valley and relocated to the hills they now call home.
The implications of war on this community weren’t just geographical; although the war ended in 1996, many suffer from the trauma of living through displacement and war. The younger generations don’t have memories of these events, but they experience the fallout daily in their community- physical poverty, emotional and physical abuse, malnutrition, and lack of education.
In Chivoc, the majority of men thirty and older are only educated up to third grade, and most women of the same age are still illiterate. Men often work in agriculture and construction, while women often sell hand-woven items and clothing, tortillas or fruits and vegetables. It’s also not uncommon for children to make money by looking for firewood, babysitting, and helping harvest crops.
What is UNUM’s strategy in Chivoc?
UNUM partners with a missionary living in the area (Natalie Arauco) who teaches English at the local school. A nutritional program is run through the school, feeding around 200 students from ages 13 to 16. Students are encouraged and receive discipleship, as well as have access to a consistent meal.
UNUM also runs a sponsorship program through the school. This program not only connects students with someone who will be diligent about praying and encouraging them, but provides funds for the school, allowing them to better infrastructure, buy school supplies, etc.
UNUM is committed to a holistic model of care and seeing Chivoc become a healthy, happy, educated community- thriving physically, mentally, and spiritually.