The feeding programme in Jocotenango (pronounced “Hoco-ten-ango”) provides meals for around 800 children, most of whom live in slum dwellings on the outskirts of Antigua where we have our offices and missionary house.
Antigua (which means “old”) used to be the capital of Guatemala and is a very quaint, picturesque and vibrant town to which many of the mountain peoples bring their wares for selling. It has a market there every day of the year except Christmas Day.
The greater proportion of children who are here would be Ladino, (descendants of the Spanish invaders of the 1500’s) and speak Spanish, which is the official language of Guatemala. The poorer parts of the town and suburbs have little more than shanty dwellings and overcrowded housing. Alcoholism and other social problems create immense difficulties for the families there. Added to this is the inherent poverty in which 97% of Guatemalans live, meaning that many children have either insufficient to eat, or very imbalanced diets. Our children here are fed on Mondays and Fridays with carefully designed meals typically of meat, vegetables, pasta or rice.
Living Water International has planted a church in Jocotenango, and the church building doubles as a dining room and the halls are used for Bible classes after the meals. We have also built a clinic and dental facility in ‘Joco’. Being basically town children, they tend to be more lively than the mountain children and in every sense more “streetwise”.
The area is prone to bad mud slides during the heavy rainy season when people’s houses can be washed away. At such times our staff often gets involved in helping families, thus showing the love of God in a very practical way.