Background — San Pedro Las Huertas, Guatemala
San Pedro Las Huertas is a town of about 8,000 people. The literacy rate is only 15%, thus 85% of the people cannot read or write. There are two schools in town, but many families cannot afford the monthly tuition or the cost of required uniforms.
Plant Today was invited by Pastor Israel Hernandez, pastor of a small fledgling church in San Pedro, to explore the needs in his community and discuss ways that Plant Today might partner with him to meet these needs.
Street scene at Pastor Hernandez's "warehouse" church. Metal siding recently replaced a wall of bamboo fencing. This church ministers to about 50 adults and 30 children.
Worship service at Vid Verdadero Church, San Pedro Las Huertas
Pastor Victor Hugo Cuevas (from Guatemala City); Pastor Israel Hernandez, his wife Cecilia and their children; Pastor Byron Dardon (who started the church five years ago)
For centuries the Maya people grew and strengthened in Guatemala. The Maya people were "before their time" in construction methods. They built spectacular cities, palaces, pyramids, and observatories.
A sizable population of Maya descendants still exist in Guatemala and Yucatan Peninsula today. In fact, they are the largest population majority in Guatemala yet they, for the most part, live in poverty and are almost a forgotten, repressed majority.
Guatemala has suffered through many turbulent times in their history. First came the Spanish Conquistadors who enslaved the nationals. After the overthrow of Spanish King by Napoleon, Guatemala declared their independence from Spain. As with most new countries, they experienced many coups and dictatorships. After many internal wars, including a 36 year civil war where more than 200,000 civilians were murdered, today Guatemala is stable.
In the foothills of the Fuego volcano lies the village of San Pedro Las Huertas, 3 miles south of Antigua, and southwest of Guatemala City.
There is a medical clinic in San Pedro, but it has only one volunteer nurse for half a day on Mondays. She volunteers the rest of her time giving immunizations provided by the government. A doctor is supposed to come through every eight days, but sometimes it is several weeks between visits.
There is a hospital in nearby Antigua, but service is based on social and financial status. Even for an emergency, the poorest may wait all day without being seen. Cost of a visit is approximately half a day's wage.
End of Background Information.
Guatemala is a Central American nation that has a population of 13 million in a land area smaller than Tennessee. It is bordered on the north and west by Mexico, on the east by Belize, the Gulf of Honduras and Honduras, and on the south by El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean.
Over 56% of the population lives below the poverty line. 50% of the labor force is in agriculture, 35% in services, and 15% in industry. It's people must deal with the continual threats of hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
Guatemalans are of Indian, ancient Mayan, Spanish, and other European decent. The language is Spanish and numerous Indian languages.
Guatemala has a tropical climate - hot and humid in low lying areas, and cooler in its many mountains.
The major religions are Roman Catholic, Indian and ancient Mayan beliefs.
San Pedro Las Huertas is 3 miles SW of Antigua, which is 30 miles SW of Guatemala City. As seen in the map below, San Pedro is in the active volcano region.