Santa Cruz de Quiché

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

Santa Cruz de Quiché is the capital of the El Quiché department. It is located in northwestern Guatemala and has a population of 78,279. More than 82% of the municipality’s residents identify as Mayan with K’iche’ as their first or only language. Guatemala has the highest number of child laborers in Latin America, and Quiché is one of the two most affected departments in Guatemala. Young, mostly indigenous, children are forced to work illegally and under dangerous conditions.

Since 2011, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Santa Cruz de Quiché.

Children are forced to work

Child labour

Most child laborers are employed in agriculture. Children are forced to use machetes and other dangerous tools to harvest sugar cane. In addition, coffee beans are picked by children as young as five, who must carry heavy loads and mix pesticides. To increase family income, some parents send their children to the cities to work as beggars or street performers. The children receive very little, if any, pay for physically demanding work done over many hours.

Of the population in Quiché lives in poverty


Many families depend on subsistence farming. To escape poverty, some people work as day laborers on farms, where they earn less than $2.95 per day. In order to contribute to the family income, children have to work on family farms from a young age or take care of siblings, cooking and cleaning instead of going to school. Without primary education, children have little chance of escaping the cycle of poverty later in life.

Your support makes a difference for children in Santa Cruz de Quiché

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
Learning how to ride a bike! SOS Children's Villages supports families in providing an environment where their children can develop and flourish (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Guatemala).

How your support helps in Santa Cruz de Quiché

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.