NPH day care centre programme benefits single mothers and vulnerable children

Three-year-old Mateo* waves goodbye as his mother, Angelina, leaves him at the Centro de Cuidado Infantil Diario (CCID) La Sagrada Familia day care centre in Guatemala. She will return at 5pm to collect him knowing that he has been well looked after by qualified and caring NPH staff. Angelina receives free childcare five days a week, eight hours a day. This enables her to earn a decent living from regular employment while Mateo benefits from early childhood education.

The La Sagrada Familia day care centre run by NPH Guatemala provides free early childhood education to vulnerable children aged 2 to 4 years old so their parents or carers can go out to work to earn money for their families.
The day care centre provides free early childhood education to vulnerable children aged 2 to 4 years old

Helping parents with childcare so they can work

The CCID programme has operated in Guatemala since 2019 and serves families from disadvantaged backgrounds with very low incomes. Families are selected to participate through social work teams. The day care centre also feeds the children two nutritious meals a day and two snacks, and families receive food donations for evening meals when needed. The children benefit from free healthcare: annual medical check-ups, height and weight monitoring and flu vaccines. Importantly, the centre also identifies children at an early age who may have undiagnosed medical problems or special educational needs and supports them through their journey.

Mateo loves to sing and dance. His teachers at the nursery say that he shows his talents to them and the other children. His teacher, Teresa, recalls that one day he was sitting down during snack time and began to recite a poem and then approached her to say that he performed it for her. Teresa said, “This was a special moment. He said ‘It’s for you, teacher’. It shows me that we are doing the job well. Mateo is a very active and obedient child and very cooperative, fitting in well with the children around him.”

Mateo happily playing outside at NPH Guatemala’s Centro de Cuidada Infantil Diario (CCID) La Sagrada Familia day care centre. He attends five days a week while his mother works full-time, taking part in a variety of educational and recreational activities, as well as receiving nutritional meals and snacks.
Mateo happily playing outside at NPH Guatemala’s day care centre

NPH helps to break the cycle of poverty

According to UNICEF, Guatemala spends only 2.8% of its GDP on education, which is one of the lowest rates in Latin America, and only 40% of primary school leavers read to the expected level. Over 40% of teenagers do not attend school at all, working to support their families, and with no qualifications they only have access to low paid, temporary employment. Half of Guatemalan children suffer from malnutrition, causing lower intelligence and physical problems like illnesses and stunted growth. Families are trapped in a cycle of poverty that is passed down from generation to generation.

Children benefit socially too

Angelina is very grateful that she receives help from NPH: “I have the opportunity to work while my son is cared for by people who love and respect him, people who have been trained to care for him and feed him healthy food.” She added: “As my son was growing up there were no other children and he was very shy. Now I see that the environment has helped him because he has more social skills and has friends.”

Angelina and her son, Mateo, wave at the entrance to NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre where he receives free daily childcare so his mother can work and study to help break the cycle of poverty that is passed down from generation to generation in Guatemala.
Angelina and her son, Mateo, wave at the entrance to the day care centre

The programme offers young, vulnerable children early years education and healthy development in a safe and supervised environment. At Christmas time too, no child is left out. When Father Christmas visits the centre every child takes home a gift.

A child at NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre receives a gift from Father Christmas.
A child at NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre receives a gift from Father Christmas

*Privacy note

Children’s names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect their privacy.

Empowering women improves rural communities

In a country where women fight for their rights daily, NPH Guatemala helps rural women to develop skills and become more socially involved and financially independent.

Josefina at her fabric's stall
Josefina at her stall

Women in Guatemala, particularly indigenous and mestizo women from rural areas, have poor access to services, especially education, limiting their employment and earning potential. Women in Guatemala make up 51 percent of the total population, yet they have historically benefitted little from development. The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) estimates that Guatemala has the second-highest female illiteracy rate in Central America.

Unpaid and exposed to violence

Many Guatemalan women perform unpaid childcare and domestic work, so have few opportunities to participate in the formal economy. Financial dependence makes them more vulnerable to domestic violence and less inclined to pursue justice through the legal system.

NPH and Parramos Municipality together

NPH Guatemala partners with the “Oficina de la Mujer” (the Office for Women), a service of the Municipality of Parramos, where our family centre is located, that seeks to promote the well-being of local women and families. Together we assist women to develop skills. We also foster women’s community leadership and promote their economic, social and political participation, as well as helping to make them aware of their rights.

Dina Lopez, director of the Women’s Office in Parramos and programme leader of the “Empoderamiento a Mujeres” (Women’s Empowerment) initiative, has coordinated the programme for 6 years: “Women in Parramos have an average monthly income of 1,250 quetzales (123 pounds – less than half the official minimum wage). Most women here work informally in agriculture, washing clothes or cleaning houses,” says Dina.

Baking, sewing and tailoring workshops

Many women in Parramos suffer from male chauvinism, crime, and violence. The women’s emancipation programme also helps women at risk to develop their work skills. In 2021, NPH Guatemala’s joint alliance with the Women’s Office offered bakery, sewing, and tailoring workshops to help women enter the labour market, start micro-enterprises, and improve their standard of living. Josefina, from San Luis in Parramos, is an example of how women can use this training to become more prosperous.

A family in need of funds

Josefina with her family

Josefina lives with her husband, 2 daughters and son in a small house in San Luis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Josefina worked in a restaurant in Antigua Guatemala for many years. The pandemic caused a major downturn in tourism, so Josefina lost her job in April 2020. Since then, she has worked from home by cooking for events, and sewing fabrics to contribute to the family’s income. “An extra income allows my children to continue studying and become professionals with better opportunities in society,” says Josefina.

The price of Covid-19

Due to COVID-19, schools switched from in-person classes to teaching online. This meant that Josefina had to install an internet connection at home so that her children could continue their studies. “I have managed to make clothes and increase our family’s income so we can comply with the new schooling requirements, but it’s very difficult,” she says.

A workshop changed Josefina’s life

Josefina thinks group training is a great way for her to share her knowledge and enhance her personal skills. Back in 1996, she held talks about male chauvinism. Since then, Josefina has been a female leader in her community, teaching skills to indigenous women’s groups to help generate more income, such as how to make soap and other products, plus how to cultivate land to grow vegetables. These skills are important because in rural Guatemala women play key roles in achieving food security and increasing the livelihoods of their homes and communities.

Josefina learned about NPH Guatemala from one of her neighbour’s children, who had attended school there. One day, she saw a social media post about free workshops in bakery, sewing, and tailoring offered by the Women’s Office and NPH Guatemala. She contacted Dina Lopez and signed up for the 3-month course beginning in February 2021 at NPH’s Casa San Andrés centre.

A keen student

Josefina wanted to improve her sewing. She was an active student during the course, the only one to deliver extra garments every week. She could see the instructor’s talent: “As an keen student, willing to learn, I was attentive to everything the teacher shared, because I could see she based her teaching on the student’s ability,” says Josefina.

Josefina – best in class

On graduating , 11 women received certificates in baking and 8 in sewing and tailoring. Josefina won a prize for being the best student, and is now the proud owner of a new sewing machine. During the rest of 2021, she worked for a private business and neighbours.

Growing the business

She also took on bigger tailoring projects, like one for the municipality of Parramos, sewing 200 seat covers and 20 table runners. “I would like to learn more sewing techniques, that’s why I signed up for the second course in January 2022. I’ll be able to make other garments using more advanced and specialised sewing skills,” says Josefina.

Josefina at her sewing machine
Josefina at work, growing her business

NPH’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

NPH Guatemala is committed to the promotion and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).