Paulina Noj sits with three of her eight children.
The children of Guatemala are starving
By Natasha Pizzey-Siegert
Half of Guatemala’s children are malnourished. Years of poverty, violence and underdevelopment are taking a toll on Guatemala’s most vulnerable citizens.
Children in Guatemala are starving. But like their parents, one might not notice.
There are few bones jutting out, few oversize heads and bellies. But a slow, deep hunger has been building in Guatemala for decades. And now it’s destroying a generation.
In the drab-sounding hamlet of Lote 14 (Lot 14), 100 kilometers south of the capital in the department of Escuintla, 2-year-old María sits still on her mother’s lap, her twig-like arms dangling limply. Weighing a third less than she should, María looks frighteningly small. Staring at the mud floor of their empty kitchen, her mother, Paulina Noj, explains the daily struggle to feed María and her other seven children.
Her husband is lucky – despite rampant unemployment, he has a job, but he only earns $40 a week. Before, that was just enough for them to buy the basics – corn and beans. But rising food prices have doubled the cost of corn over the past year and they can no longer get enough to feed all 10 in the family.
“Everything is so expensive now that sometimes we just can’t buy corn,” Noj said. “There isn’t always enough to feed the kids.”
Clearly hungry herself, Noj can’t produce breast milk to feed her little girl, and has helplessly watched her get “very skinny.”