The sleepy Mayan village of Aldea El Paraiso in the Guatemalan Quiché highlands was buzzing with action today during an opening ceremony of a new goat-raising center, hosted by the non-profit organization Save the Children in partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The center is part of a goat milk program designed to help chronically malnourished children get the key nutrients they need to be healthy and grow.
"One of the worst places in the world for chronic child malnutrition is not found in the brown deserts of Africa, but in the green mountains of Latin America," said Carlos Carrazana, Save the Children's Chief Operating Officer. "In Guatemala, nearly one in two children under the age of 5 is chronically malnourished, meaning they don't get enough of the right kinds of food each day to fuel their growing brains and bodies."
Among indigenous populations in rural parts of El Quiché, the situation is even worse. The region's lush, rolling hills mask a hidden hunger crisis affecting 72 percent of its children under 5. That's why Save the Children, with support from GMCR and USAID, has opened the goat-raising center to offer milk as a source of protein for malnourished children in the region.
"Chronic malnutrition in El Quiché coffee-growing communities has kept many young children from reaching their cognitive and physical potential in life, a potential so necessary to move their communities from extreme levels of poverty," said Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach for GMCR. "Good nutrition is fundamental to the strength of our supply chain. The new Save the Children Goat Center in El Quiché will lead to healthier, more productive lives in communities that many coffee companies, including GMCR, depend on for their fine coffees."
"For over ten years, USAID Guatemala has supported Save the Children's innovative food security and nutrition programs for families living in extreme poverty and with very high rates of chronic malnutrition in Guatemala's Quiché department. Over the years, Save the Children has championed this exemplary 'family goat model.' Today it is our pleasure to join Save the Children and other important partners in this inauguration of The Goat Center which is the culmination of their laudable work to generate income and food security among the extreme poor in Guatemala's Western Highlands," said USAID Mission Director Kevin Kelly.
The center currently houses 85 goats (it has capacity for 300) and will serve 115 surrounding communities. Over the next three to five years, 2,200 families and more than 3,500 children will benefit from the goat center. In addition to providing milk for children, the program teaches families how to generate income year-round by raising goats and other farm animals, selling surplus milk, and making cheese and yogurt.
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