Fight Poverty in Guatemala

Transform Communities. Show Christ’s Love.

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God calls us to carry his love to the ends of the earth and into the margins of society. This includes Guatemala, a struggling Central American country on Mexico’s southern border, where — with your support — Cross Catholic Outreach is equipping the Body of Christ to bring light and hope.

Nearly 1 in 4 Guatemalans lives on earnings of less than $3.20 a day.

Although the economy in Guatemala is the largest in Central America, many communities and families there are still plagued by extreme poverty. Public agencies are low on cash and prone to corruption, so these struggling people are largely on their own. Private charities do exist, but most also have very limited resources. As a result, Guatemala’s levels of chronic childhood malnourishment are among the highest in the world.

Read on to learn more about our plan to reduce material and spiritual poverty in Guatemala and how you can help!

Map of Guatemala projects

Quick Facts

Population: 17,422,821 (July 2021 est.)

Real GDP per capita: $8,400 in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

Literacy rate: 80.8% (2018)

Infant mortality: 26.81 deaths/1,000 live births (5.22/1,000 in U.S.)

Population below poverty line: 59.3% (2014 est.)

Primary religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Maya

Poverty is still rampant in rural Guatemala.

The Problem

Trapped in a Cycle of Poverty

More than 200,000 people died or disappeared in Guatemala’s decades-long civil war. Drugs, gangs, violence and systemic corruption are now key challenges for the poor living in Guatemala’s capital city, and in rural areas extreme poverty is the greatest threat. Indigenous farmers in those areas survive hand-to-mouth, plagued by a sense of futility and racial exclusion.

Families living in poor rural communities often eat only one meal a day. They have homes with dirt floors; draw unsafe water from shallow, contaminated wells; and struggle to provide their children with a quality education. When sickness strikes, there is barely enough money to visit the nearest clinic or receive prescription medicine. As a result, these hope-drained families remain sick, hungry, uneducated and stuck in the cycle of poverty.

Local Catholic ministries fighting poverty have the heart and desire to end this suffering, but they lack the funds needed to meet the vast demand. Your support will strengthen their outreaches, open doors of opportunity, and help the Church forever transform the lives of the poor!

Cross Catholic Outreach provides safe, sturdy homes for poor families in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala.

The Answer to Guatemalan Poverty

The Church

Cross Catholic Outreach partners with local Catholic bishops, priests, religious and lay workers who have the hearts and the knowledge to serve their needy neighbors.

In southern Guatemala, Cross Catholic Outreach is working with the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima to transform the lives of the poor.

Defeat Poverty and Bring People to Jesus Christ

Our goal is not only to provide food, water, shelter, and other material needs, but also to transform families and communities for the glory of Jesus Christ. Your support can help break the cycle of poverty, increase self-sufficiency and model God’s love.

Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala

Safe Homes

Currently impacting the lives of 107 families.


Providing teachers, new facilities and 55 student scholarships.

Clean Water

Impacting the lives of 90 high school students and their teachers.


Empowering 249 farmers.

Safe Homes

An important step in helping a family rise out of deep poverty is to ensure safe housing. The diocese’s plan includes the construction of 107 durable, cement block houses with solid floors and waterproof roofs that will give the poor families the comfort they deserve.

Every beneficiary family participates in their home’s construction. This sweat equity preserves family dignity.

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Santa Rosa Floorplan Graphic for Housing Project
Education icon


Santa Rosa’s children have lacked access to a Catholic education system. To solve this problem, the diocese came to Cross Catholic Outreach with a vision for a new Catholic school — Sacred Heart of Jesus — to serve more than 200 students.

This very first Catholic school in the diocese was recently completed and is well-equipped to provide a quality education. Eventually, it will also include technical training classes.

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Clean water icon

Clean Water

Water — one of God’s greatest gifts — is crucial to our survival, but thousands of poor families in Santa Rosa have no access to its refreshing, sustaining power.

After providing multiple communities with gravity-fed water systems, this year we partnered with the diocese to install a water system at the new Catholic Secondary School initially serving 90 students.

This system will reduce dehydration and waterborne illness and help students be at their best in the classroom.

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A child in his mother's arms reaches for water spout.
A woman working in her garden
Agriculture icon


Poverty is so extreme in Santa Rosa that the men often search for unskilled jobs in other countries, leaving women to survive through subsistence farming. What small profits they generate are usually turned over to the landowners, meaning the families themselves remain trapped in a cycle of poverty.

This year, the diocese’s agriculture program will provide resources and training to 410 farmers, promoting economic independence.

Learn More

Join the Fight Against Guatemalan Poverty

Impoverished Guatemalan children and families need your compassion. Your gift to Cross Catholic Outreach will strengthen the Church in Guatemala and its ministry to free the poor from the clutches of spiritual and material poverty.

Cross Catholic Outreach partners with Guatemalan dioceses to serve the poor.

How We Help the Poor

Change Even More Lives

Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.

Become a monthly donor today and experience the joy of impacting lives every month.

What does God say about helping the needy? What does the Bible say about helping the poor?

Almsgiving figures prominently in Catholic social teaching. Christ tells us that when we serve the poor, it is as if we have served God himself. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, he says:

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

~Matthew 25:34-40

What are the benefits of helping the poor?

Helping the poor brings blessings to both the giver and receiver. As Psalm 41 reveals, “Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.” When we live lives of self-sacrifice, we draw closer to God and grow deeper in faith.

While poverty relief can do harm when managed unwisely, aid that is provided strategically can have an incredible, transformative impact. Our outreaches preserve the dignity of beneficiaries and empower those we serve. This approach radically transforms families and communities, and the impact of the improvements is lasting. Cross Catholic Outreach strives to support programs that truly help the needy, providing material and spiritual hope and equipping the poor to achieve their dreams.

How can we help the poor and needy?

When you support Cross Catholic Outreach, you are helping send funds and aid shipments to local Catholic ministries in developing countries so that children and families in truly vulnerable situations receive the help they desperately need.

To join in this life-giving work, you can make a one-time gift to our general fund or a specific project of your choice or pledge monthly support.

How many people in the world are poor?

The World Bank reports that in 2017, about 3.3  billion people — 43.6% of the world’s population — lived on less than $5.50 a day. About 1 in 10 people lived in extreme poverty, defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day. Those numbers are likely even higher since the arrival of COVID-19.

Why is Guatemala poor? 

Although Guatemala has the highest gross domestic product of any country in Central America, most of its wealth is concentrated in a small minority. The reasons for the persistence of widespread poverty are complex, but the problem is especially prevalent in the indigenous population, and there is a cyclical aspect that is related to the prevalence of small-scale farming.

In 2020, the World Bank reported that Guatemala saw an increase in poverty from 45.6% to 47% of the population, due at least in part to the pandemic.

How can I help people in Guatemala? 

The biggest issues faced by Guatemalans are poverty, children’s rights (actually human rights as a whole) public safety and health. Although it can be said all other problems stem from poverty, you can still design outreaches that will address each need separately.

Help can be given in the form of financial aid, medical supplies, educational and learning opportunities, and activism to spread awareness about the issues faced by the people of Guatemala in their everyday lives.

What is the poverty level in Guatemala? 

According to a study done in 2020, Guatemala has a poverty rate of 47%, with the poverty line being drawn at $1.90 per day per capita.

Can you sponsor a child or family in Guatemala? 

Most definitely! There are many organizations around the world working to provide relief to the people of Guatemala. Some of those organizations provide an opportunity to sponsor a child in Guatemala.

Cross Catholic Outreach is also working to alleviate the suffering of Guatemalans. Our approaches include opportunities to provide families with safe homes, access to clean water, agricultural support, and education. Addressing spiritual needs is a priority for us as well, and many of our in-country partners are adept at spreading the message of Christ far and wide.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures for this project incurred through June 30, 2025, 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.