Guatemala. Margarita goes beyond her disability to improve her family's nutrition
21-10-2020 | di COOPI

Guatemala. Margarita goes beyond her disability to improve her family's nutrition

Margarita Morales Vásquez is a 31-year-old mother of Mam ethnicity, living in the Aldea Chiquililá community in the municipality of San Ildefonso Ixtahuacán, Department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Margarita and her family belong to the beneficiaries of the project "Humanitarian Response to the Needs of the Most Vulnerable Communities Affected by the Prolonged Food Crisis and Recurrent Drought in Central America Corredor Seco" implemented by COOPI – Cooperazione Internazionale and funded by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Due to the disability she suffers from in her right arm, Margarita has many difficulties in finding a job or simply in carrying out activities that could help her family. As she herself admits: "Because of my disability, I cannot work as other people who have both hands do. Even to make tortillas I don't use my hands, I use a tortiadora or a mould". This disability exacerbates the situation of difficulty and serious food insecurity in which Margarita, her husband and her 5-year-old daughter live.

The advent of Covid-19 pandemic and the absence of rain during crucial periods for cereal production - where many locals find employment - has made life even more difficult for this family and many others. "Sometimes a week goes by without me working at all. Last month I was only able to work 4 days and they paid me 30.00 Quetzales (about 3 euros ed.) per day. In addition, every two days we walk about a kilometre to carry water through paths that are difficult to walk on when it rains because of the mud", said Samuel Perez, Margarita's husband. The family lives one kilometre far from the centre of the community, in a small adobe house where there is neither electricity nor drinking water.

Fortunately, the staff of COOPI Guatemala in collaboration with the Municipal Food and Nutrition Safety Commission (COMUSAN) identified this family and included it in the food support project. Margarita's family received a first ration of food last July, during the seasonal famine period, which will be fundamental for the basic nutrition of all the family members. In September, she was given a second ration sufficient for a period of 4 months. In addition, they were given a hygiene and information kit to prevent contagion from Covid-19.