A Story of Hope from
Guatemala

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to listen closely to those who often go unheard and to help those most vulnerable.

We all need food to nourish us and keep us healthy. Without food, we find it hard to concentrate, study, do our work or even play. Jesus often shared meals with friends and even strangers, and he teaches us to be generous in sharing what we have to eat with others.

Chanchavac family eating in their kitchen

All things are achieved when one sets out to do so.
— Raúl Chanchavac

It’s 5 a.m. in the village of Xequemeyá, Guatemala, but Raúl and Lilian Chanchavac are already starting their day. First, they thank God for all he has given them—their two sons, a field full of plants and a successful business. They certainly have a lot to be thankful for. It all started with a dream to flourish and to help others do the same.

“All things are achieved when one sets out to do so,” Raúl says.

In their village, malnutrition is high, which is especially dangerous for children. The community also struggles with water scarcity, poor education, poverty and a changing climate. But Raúl and Lilian believe all this can be overcome.

They started working toward change by growing tomatoes. They dedicated long hours in their field, but plant diseases and other problems destroyed their crops. They felt defeated and humiliated, Raúl says. But they pushed onward.

Then Lilian heard about Catholic Relief Services’ SEGAMIL program and how they could receive agriculture training and nutrition education for their children. Raúl and Lilian learned to manage and care for their crops. From there, they began growing for their business—adding onions, chili peppers and oranges to their crops. Produce was plentiful, but they continued to struggle—this time with selling it at markets.

Still determined, they entered CRS’ Nuestra Cosecha program that helped them register with the government to begin selling their produce to 16 local schools. Soon, they hired family and community members to harvest and pack the food. Today, they are proud to be able to help others in their community—especially children.

“It helps them be stronger and to learn better … and to avoid malnutrition in our village,” Lilian says.

Today, Lilian and Raul are looking forward to the future.

Together with Lilian, Raul says, “Now that I am living a dream, other dreams come. Now, my dream is to expand the business … so other people can benefit too.”

REFLECT

Work is important and part of God’s plan for adults and families. What chores do you do to help your family?

Why is it important to help others have work and an income?

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