For hundreds of years, large families were beneficial. Many children provided help with farm work and grazing herds, compensated for a high mortality rate and provided some security for parents as they grew older. Today in Guatemala this tradition of having a large family has become a tremendous problem. In the past a father could pass land down to his sons for them to raise their own families on, but now a family of 20 does not own enough land to support a family of even half this size. So many young men leave home and go to the city to try to find work. Often they find a city slum life harder than what they left. This puts additional pressure on them to try to cross the border through Mexico and into the U.S. to find work and send money home.
We provide education and information to the women’s groups regarding family health, planning and birth control. We do not promote any agenda of our own, but simply provide information that is otherwise lacking, and will provide additional information as requested. Many of the women we work with don’t really understand how they become pregnant. It is not uncommon for a family of 12 (10 kids or more plus two adults or more) to live in a two room house.
Though there are several other NGO’s (non governmental organizations) that concentrate entirely on family planning (Aprofam being the largest), they often find their work is complicated by mistrust, and the influence of the churches. In learning about our methods in approaching this topic and our success in the communities, Aprofam has been working to change their format to match Seeds. With our help, Aprofam will be better able to help the communities it works in throughout the Central-American region.