A woman and two small children stand on the porch of their new house.
Cristina Yanes will move into her sturdy new house soon!

Catholics Help Provide Safe Housing in Guatemala

Thanks to the support of compassionate Catholic donors across the U.S., 159 Guatemalan families will soon move into safe homes. Gifts from those generous friends empowered our ministry partners in the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu and the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima to build homes for families trapped in unsafe, unsanitary living conditions.

Cristina Alvarez Yanes is one of these grateful people who benefited from this outreach, and the transformation she has experienced has changed her entire perspective on life. Cristina and her two young children live in a feeble dirt-floor structure built of sticks, planks and palm fronds, and she felt hopeless to change her situation.

Now, as she steps inside the new concrete home built for her by the diocese’s relief programs, her face is radiant with joy. She believes this change will put her on a path to a much brighter future, and she is deeply grateful to those who helped make this blessing possible.

“We sleep well. We are safe. We are not afraid that someone might get in,” Cristina shared.

Still, no one would describe Cristina’s life as easy. She is a single mother and must work hard seven days a week to provide for her children. It is an exhausting daily grind — which is why it means so much to her to have a safe place to rest at night. She knows she will continue to face hard work and other challenges, but she says this gift of a sturdy home has lifted a great burden from her shoulders.

“Thank God. It’s beautiful. Thanks to the people who supported us,” Cristina said. “I love everything [about the home] because, in my dreams, I could picture something like this. … Where we lived, it was cold. In here, it is warm and cozy.”

Safe Housing Makes Dreams Come True

Four-year-old Yandeli Josue has never had a home of his own. He and his parents lived in a small, overcrowded house with 10 people — other members of his mother’s extended family. While he was too young to fully process the situation, he was uncomfortable there and sometimes felt unsafe.

Because the home was crudely constructed, there were other trials too. During the rainy season the roof would leak, and after a recent earthquake large cracks appeared in the window and columns of the house. You can imagine how frightening that must have been for a boy Yandeli’s age!

Then, everything changed. When Yandeli and his family learned they would receive a brand-new home, he was overcome with an overwhelming joy!

Even before the workers had broken ground on the project, Yandeli excitedly talked about “his house,” and each morning he would run outside to see how much progress had been made. As soon as the house was safe to enter — and even before any furniture had been moved inside — Yandeli asked his mother if he could stay there at night. He said he was willing to lay out his poncho and sleep on the ground!

“We are grateful to you and God,” said Yandeli’s mother, Ana Lucia Parede. “Thanks to God it will be a big change. We won’t be crowded in there. I’m excited because my boy will be happy, and that brings me much happiness!”

The security provided by the new house was also a relief to Yandeli’s father. He works as a welder’s assistant in the city of Barberena and must travel to different worksites. Being away from his family for more than three weeks out of the month, he had reason to worry about their safety. But the new home has put an end to those concerns.

A boy sits on the concrete floor of a new house with a cement block wall in back of him.
Yandeli loves his new home.

Catholics Provide Nutritious Food and Catholic Education to Families Suffering From Malnutrition

Our generous donors also helped send more than 816,000 meals to feed hungry families in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima! We were able to ship packs of Vitafood — rice, potato or lentil-based meals filled with protein (usually in the form of soy or beans) and key vitamins to improve the health of malnourished children and families.

Gladis González, who recently received a new home, is also benefiting from full plates of Vitafood. There have been times when the family has only been able to eat once a day, so the meal packs provide a very important supplement to their diets and a vital source of nutrition.

“I don’t know what would happen without it,” Gladis’ mother, Zaira, said honestly. “It helps us. It’s important because we don’t have it. It’s food for the children.”

Cross Catholic Outreach supporters also have provided education to 70 students in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima. The outreach supports a Catholic secondary school there that serves about 129 children, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity to complete their education.

“I have nine brothers and sisters and live with my dad, who is a farm laborer. My mother died in 2015. Attending this school is a big help for my dad and me. My old school had only one teacher for all grades. Here, each classroom has a teacher, and we have all the important tools, like computers,” 16-year-old student Lazaro Isai Gómez shared. “Studying gives me good values so I can be a person who stands out.”

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A little girl looks up with a plate of rice in front of her. Another child with a plate of food looks at the camera behind her.
Vitafood is an answer to prayer for Guatemala’s poorest families.

Agriculture That Changes Lives

The agriculture ministry at the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima helps hardworking farmers like Santos improve their crop yields. Before entering the program, Santos would have to take out loans in order to plant a new round of crops each year, and that put a real strain on his already limited income.

With the right training, seeds and fertilizers, though, Santos no longer has to go into debt to provide for his family. In fact, he is able to save money to use on other necessities such as medicine and additional food.

“It’s a great help. We had to eat less to buy fertilizer. Now, thanks to the program, we can improve and use our money for better food,” Santos said. “It gives us a better livelihood. It helps with the little resources we have. I can think about improving my children’s education and health.”

In all, our supporters helped 249 households like Santos’ with the resources they needed to improve their harvests and nutrition. The farmers are deeply grateful for this empowering opportunity to better provide for their children.

Catholic Transformation Projects Change Lives in Guatemala

Our friends are transforming lives in Guatemala by implementing the Corporal Works of Mercy!

In addition to providing material necessities such as housing and food, our supporters empowered Catholic leaders in the dioceses of Santa Rosa de Lima and Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu to work alongside local families, pray with them, and encourage them in the hope of the Gospel.

As Bishop Pablo Vizcaíno Prado of the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu told us, “Religious life can’t be understood without projecting good to others. So any project that aims to improve communities can’t ignore spiritual growth of the beneficiaries — that union of faith and daily activity that helps people become of importance to the community.”

God bless you, our generous supporters, for building up poor families both materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.