SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

Quetzaltenango is a city and municipality in the western highlands of Guatemala with a population of 180,706. Quetzaltenango is the second largest city in Guatemala. It is popular with tourists for its volcanoes, hot springs, valleys, mountains and rivers. Although tourism brings jobs and economic prosperity to the region, not everyone benefits from this. Many children and young people need support so that they can grow up healthily and safely.

Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Quetzaltenango.

Of children under 5 are malnourished


An estimated 51 % of the Guatemalan population lives in rural areas, where the majority of the country's poverty is found. They often live off farming, but storms and heavy rains destroy crops, leading to food insecurity. For most children, breakfast, lunch and dinner consist of a baked tortilla with a pinch of salt and diluted coffee. Nearly one in two children in Guatemala is malnourished or does not receive a balanced diet. 90% of children living in the highland regions, especially the indigenous population, are affected by malnutrition.

Of women enter into a union before the age of 18

Child marriage

In Guatemala, 30% of girls enter into marriage before they are 18 years old and 6% before they are 15 years old. Child marriages are more common in rural areas than in urban areas. Children who grow up in difficult family circumstances tend to be most at risk of child marriage. Often, children who are married off have to drop out of school to take care of the household, making it very difficult to escape the cycle of poverty. Other risks, such as sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancy, also have a severe impact on the mental and physical health of girls and young women.

Your support makes a difference for children in Quetzaltenango

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
We support families to stay together. If children cannot grow up with their family of origin, we support them to form lifelong bonds (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

How your support helps in Quetzaltenango

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.