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 live on earnings of less than $3.20 a day.

In Guatemala, the poor are largely on their own. Although the economy is the largest in Central America, it produces high levels of income inequality. Public agencies are prone to corruption and low on cash, and private charities face a similar lack of resources. The rates 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: 17,153,288 (July 2020 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,200 (2017 est.)

Literacy rate: 81.5% (95.5% in U.S.)

Infant mortality: 21.8 deaths/1,000 live births (7.5. in U.S.)

Population below poverty line: 59.3% (2014 est.; 15.1% in U.S.)

Primary religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Maya

Guatemalan women and children wait patiently to receive supplies from a Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima feeding program.

The Problem

Trapped in a Cycle of Poverty

Over 200,000 people died or disappeared in Guatemala’s decades-long civil war. Drugs, gangs, violence and systemic corruption hold back Guatemala’s capital city. In rural areas, indigenous farmers survive hand-to-mouth, burdened by a sense of futility and racial exclusion. Almost 8.7% of the population may be living on less than $1.90 a day.

Families living in poor rural communities often eat only one meal a day. Homes have dirt floors, water comes from a shallow, contaminated well, and a few children receive a quality Catholic education. When sickness strikes, there is barely enough money to visit the nearest clinic or receive prescription medicine. So they stay sick, hungry, uneducated and stuck in the cycle of poverty.

Local Catholic ministries fighting poverty do not have the funds to meet the vast demand. Your support strengthens their outreach to the poor.

More than 50% of children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition.

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 to not only 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 the love of Christ.

Featured Partner: Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima

Cross Catholic Outreach has partnered with the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima and Father Raúl Monterroso to build a Catholic school, construct safe homes, provide clean water and launch an agriculture program to promote economic independence and strengthen Christ’s presence among the poor. It’s an ambitious project, and your gift could make all the difference.

The headquarters for the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima (pictured below) is located in Cuilapa, about 40 miles southeast of Guatemala City. The city itself has a population of about 20,000 people and is surrounded by dozens of poor farming communities.

Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima

Santa Rosa project map

Safe Homes

Impacting the lives of 474 villagers in 4 communities


Impacting 200 schoolchildren in 5 municipalities

Clean Water

Impacting the lives of 474 villagers in 4 communities


Transforming the lives of 1,528 villagers

Safe Homes

The foundation to lift a family out of poverty is to ensure safe housing. Fr. Raúl’s plan for Santa Rosa includes the construction of 40 durable, cement-block houses with solid floors and waterproof roofs that will give the poor families the comfort they deserve.

Fr. Raúl feels every beneficiary family should participate in their home’s construction. This “sweat equity” preserves family dignity.

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Santa Rosa Floorplan Graphic for Housing Project
Fr. Raúl working on housing project floor plan
Education icon


Santa Rosa’s children lack access to a Catholic education system. To solve this problem, Fr. Raúl came to Cross Catholic Outreach with a vision for a new Catholic school — the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School — to serve more than 200 students.

Fr. Raúl is convinced it is God’s will that these children have this new school, as Catholic social teaching tells us that every person has a right to education.

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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.

Fr. Raúl’s plan is to construct a 600-foot-deep well and a gravity-fed water system.

Over 500 villagers will have access to clean safe water piped right to their home.

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Guatemalan child gathering water from stream
Guatemalan farmer working in field
Agriculture icon


Poverty is so extreme in Santa Rosa that the men often search for jobs in other countries, leaving women to survive on subsistence farming. What small profits they generate are usually turned over to the landowners, contributing to the overall cycle of poverty.

Fr. Raúl’s agriculture program will provide resources and training to over 1,500 villagers, promoting economic independence and sustainability.

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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.

The Hernandez-Gutierrez family was one of 20 desperately poor families in Santa Rosa to have recently been blessed with a new home.

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?

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

While poverty relief done wrong can hurt more than it helps, aid that is provided strategically, with an eye toward the dignity and empowerment of those served, has the power to radically transform families and communities. 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 almost half the world’s population — about 3.4 billion people — struggles to meet basic needs. About one in 10 people lives in extreme poverty, which is defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day.

Why is Guatemala poor? 

The biggest reason for poverty in Guatemala is unequal wealth distribution, which results in social and economic inequality. Although Guatemala has the highest GDP of any country in Central America, it’s still very poor. 

In 2019, the World Bank reported that of Guatemala’s 17 million citizens, almost 50% lived below the poverty line.

Like Nicaragua, the poor population in Guatemala is densely packed in rural areas, making rural and Indigenous populations unreasonably impacted with higher rates of poverty.

How can I help people in Guatemala? 

The biggest issues faced by Guatemalans are poverty, children’s rights––and human rights as a whole––along with public safety and health. Although it can be said that all other problems stem from poverty, you can still deal with them separately. 

Help can be given in the form of financial aid, medical supplies, educational and learning opportunities, as well as 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 2014, Guatemala has a poverty rate of 59.3%, with the poverty line being drawn at $1.9 per day per capita. 23% of people live in extreme poverty. That means that there are more than 9.4 million people living below the poverty line in Guatemala. Worse, this poverty rate is predicted to grow by 3.67% per year.  

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 for as little as $38 a month. 

Cross Catholic Outreach is also working to alleviate the suffering of the Guatemalans, while giving you the chance to donate. Family sponsorship programs provide safe homes, access to clean water, agricultural support, and education to help break the cycle of poverty. Spiritual poverty is alleviated as well, by spreading the message of Christ far and wide.

You Are in Our Prayers

Cross Catholic Outreach’s staff prays daily for friends of the ministry. Click below to submit your specific prayer intentions.

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Cross Catholic Outreach

Our mission is to mobilize the global Catholic Church to transform the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ. Your gift empowers us to serve the poorest of the poor by channeling life-changing aid through an international network of dioceses, parishes and Catholic missionaries. This cost-effective approach helps break the cycle of poverty and advance Catholic evangelization.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2022, 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.