GUATEMALA CITY (April 2, 2013) — Cristiano Ronaldo is gearing up to take on child hunger in Guatemala. "See how @SavetheChildren is showing parents how to use goat milk to tackle child #hunger in Guatemala," tweeted the Real Madrid football star today. Cristiano is referring to a goat milk program, featured in a new Save the Children video, which is helping chronically malnourished Guatemalan children like four-year-old Isabella gain weight and grow. View the video in English and in Spanish.
"Parents want to do everything they can for their child. As a father, I can only imagine how Isabella's mother must have felt, knowing her child was not getting the nourishment she needed," said Cristiano Ronaldo, referring to a mother and child featured in the video. "Fortunately, Isabella's mother got good advice from Save the Children on how healthy foods like goat milk can help Isabella gain weight and grow. But not all parents get this guidance, and that is heartbreaking."
Save the Children's goat-raising center in Guatemala offers milk as a source of protein for undernourished children living in rural communities. Nearly half of all children under age 5 in Guatemala are chronically malnourished.i In Quiche, a rural mountainous area about 165 kilometers outside of Guatemala City where Isabella lives, the number of chronically malnourished children climbs to more than 72 percent of under 5 children.ii One-year-olds are especially vulnerable once they stop breastfeeding and no longer get enough of the right proteins and nutrients in their daily diet.
"Healthy foods fuel the growth of a child's brain and body in their early years. Without them, children suffer life-long consequences – their growth is stunted, they are more susceptible to illness, they struggle to keep up and pay attention in school," said Carlos Carrazana, country director of Save the Children in Guatemala. "But when we reach children early on, we can change their future, and make sure they have a chance to reach their full potential."
Empowering Families to Tackle Child Hunger in Guatemala
Save the Children provides child hunger programs to families in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, an under-resourced area that is home to the country's ethnic minority community and where a high percentage of children are malnourished. In addition to the goat milk program, Save the Children counsels pregnant women, mothers and caretakers on how to breastfeed, and on how to help their kids be healthier and eat a better diet. Working with community volunteers and health workers, Save the Children reaches mothers through classes, home and health clinic visits, community fairs, community theater events and soccer tournaments.
The global humanitarian organization also advises families on how to grow more nutritious food, such as beans, corn, potatoes and vegetables, and how to raise animals for eggs, goat milk and meat. Families also learn how to increase their income through better marketing approaches and new business opportunities like horticulture and animal husbandry, which helps pay for food and other needs for their children.
"Look at beautiful Isabella today. She is a happy, healthier child," added Ronaldo. "I want her story of a life free from hunger to be the story of every Guatemalan child. That's a goal worth pursuing."