Our Latest Toybox Update

Executive Summary:

In the past year, Guatemala City has witnessed a surge in organised crime and violence primarily stemming from gangs and drug trafficking. Consequently, nightwork and distributing food has been dangerous thus working in collaboration with other agencies to be safe. Political tensions have heightened since the presidential elections, with attempts to undermine the successful anti-corruption candidate Bernard Arevalo. October 2023 marked a significant period of unrest in the capital city, marked by widespread protests and roadblocks, disrupting daily life and posing substantial risks to children living or working on the streets. In response to this crisis, your generous support provided 150 hot meals for hungry children. Despite President Arevalo assuming office, the situation is tense and dangerous for our partner staff at night. We have observed an increase on the number of children on the streets drawn by the food offered by numerous local churches. Our approach moving forward is twofold:

- Our partner CONACMI will include working with these children, building trust and identifying what support they need.

- Our partner Puerta de Esperanza continue their daytime outreach & education project, including offering meals to children in the infamous La Terminal market.

Going forward, the support you allow us to provide will be directed to support the activities in the La Terminal market.

More details

Last year’s report mentioned there has been an increase in organised crime and an escalation of violence in the project areas in Guatemala City, caused by gangs and drug trafficking. This meant our partners had to continue to coordinate and work together with other organisations, and for protection going out in groups onto the city streets at night when carrying out the outreach work. The levels of violence got to point where our partner’s night outreach had to be put on hold last autumn. Also, the political landscape in Guatemala has been fraught with tension since the presidential elections in August. Despite Bernard Arevalo's victory, due to his anti-corruption stance, there have been concerted efforts to disqualify and undermine him and his party. He was not scheduled to commence his term until now (January 2024).

Guatemala faces formidable challenges stemming from organised crime and corruption, hampering effective governance. Widespread violence and extortion schemes exacerbate the situation, leaving victims with limited avenues for justice. Those bravely confronting crime, corruption, and sensitive issues, including journalists, activists, and public officials, found themselves at risk of targeted attacks. The outgoing Attorney General has repeatedly abused her authority to impede high-profile corruption investigations, manipulating the justice system against independent anti-corruption prosecutors. Judges and prosecutors involved in corruption cases face reassignments, transfers, and hindrances, often encountering threats, baseless charges, or forced emigration.

Over the past year, a growing climate of intimidation and attacks against civil society members and the media has forced several journalists and human rights defenders to leave the country. In October, Guatemala experienced significant unrest, marked by numerous protests and road blockades causing widespread disruption and endangering stability. The tally of demonstrations and related blockades surpassed 80, significantly affecting children and families in Guatemala City and nearly paralyzing the country. Movement restrictions impeded food supplies, rendering families unable to earn an income by selling goods. Concerns mounted for the well-being of children, as it became evident that if families weren't earning, they weren't eating.

In response to this crisis, your generosity allowed us to swiftly provide an emergency grant for a short-term project. This initiative aimed to offer emergency hot meals for up to 150 children who had nothing to eat. The support was met with profound gratitude from children and families. Our partners reported that parents and caregivers, although now able to work again, continue to face elevated food prices due to the ongoing instability. Our partners are continuously monitoring the situation in case further emergency support is needed.

Mr Arevalo took office last month after a chaotic inauguration that was delayed for hours by a last-ditch attempt by opponents to weaken his authority. This underscored the challenges Arevalo faces as leader of Central America's most populous nation, to which he has pledged to bring sweeping reforms, as corruption, poverty and gang violence pushing thousands to emigrate in search of better lives, many to the United States. However, the city streets remain too dangerous for our partners to go out regularly at night to provide outreach and food. Although, our partner CONACMI did go out at night just after Christmas, and they observed that there were many more new young people on the streets due to drug addiction. Also, there were far more children around at night attracted by local church groups providing food.

CONACMI raised a lot of concern that the increase and dependency on food from these church groups was in fact endangering these children, as it was exposing them to the night-time criminality and abuse. CONACMI had not met these children before, some of whom are under 6-years old, they are now working alongside these children to build trust. They will be identifying why they have been driven onto the streets and what their needs are, to see if they can address these and support them.

In the meantime, our other Guatemalan partner Puerta de Esperanza’s daytime Outreach and Education Project within the most notorious La Terminal market, is offering food, at times a full meal, to about 75 street living and working children, depending on the children’s current situation. Where these children and their families are assessed as being need, they are provided with a basket of food as temporary support. By meeting these children where they live and work our partner is also able to provide targeted support in education and much needed parenting skills.

Funding moving forward:

Therefore, as Kingdom Coffee’s donation focus is providing food to street children, going forward the incredibly generous donations you allow us to give will be designated to the food and work that Puerta de Esperanza is providing. Thank you.