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El Garabato, Patzún

Community Life:

  • El Garabato is a small Maya Kaqchikel village nestled in the mountainous highlands of Guatemala.
  • The village is located nine miles from the county seat of Patzún and 26 miles from the departmental (state) capital of Chimaltenango.
  • El Garabato was founded in 1940 by four families, named Miculax and Xico, because there was had no land available to live on in the nearby village of Pachimulín. One of these families had land in this area to cultivate, and they moved to it and built some huts to live in.
  • Now, the community’s total population is about 75 families, or approximately 450 people, more than half of whom are children and young adults.
  • In 2009 the community received its legal name: “El Garabato sector 7 and 8, El Mirador Pachimulín,” and it actually belongs to the Pachimulín village, being what in Guatemala is called a “caserío” or small village.
  • The name “El Garabato” comes from a very twisted tree near a river that forms the border with the municipality of Patzicía. People tied a rope to this tree to hold when they were crossing the river, and the tree gave the name to the community (a “Garabato” is something twisted).
  • Life in El Garabato revolves around the agricultural cycle. Most people are subsistence farmers who plant corn and beans on rented land; only a few families own their own small plots.
  • To supplement their incomes, some community members work as day laborers on large, commercial farms, many of which produce export products. They are paid about $4.50 per day for their labor.
  • Public transportation reaches the community only twice a week on “market days.” Any other time, community members are left to hope they can catch a ride to Patzún in the back of a pickup truck.

Our Partnership:

When we began working with El Garabato in July 2014, 64 percent of the community’s children under five suffered from chronic malnutrition. So far, we have decreased that rate to 51 percent.

Integrated Approach to Development: El Garabato’s Progress to Date

  • Community Mobilization and Empowerment: In Progress (Began July 2014 with completion expected June 2016)
  • Nutrition: In Progress (Began July 2014 with completion expected June 2016)
  • Water, Sanitation& HygieneComplete (Projects implemented September 2015 through January 2016)
  • Food Security (Sustainable Agriculture): In Progress (Began July 2014 with completion expected June 2016). This component has helped reduce chronic malnutrition among children by providing access to vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables that 93 percent of the families now grow in their own gardens. Also, where they used to lose 40 percent of their corn and bean crops after the harvest due to issues with storage and other factors, the community members have worked with us to reduce those losses to only 17 percent, meaning they have more food available throughout the year.
  • Family Planning: In Progress (Began July 2014 with completion expected June 2016)
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: In Progress (Began January 2015 with completion expected June 2016)

Community Perspectives:

“My life has been very hard. When I was 10 years old, my father died and I had to leave the school and go to work in a farm for Q3 a day ($0.40). I married when I was only 15 and had four children; the youngest is four years old now. My husband left us and I have to work very hard every day doing any kind of jobs to feed my children. I am very excited ABPD/ALDEA is working with us and showing me how important hygiene and nutritious food are; I didn’t know before. Now I can cook nutritious foods I easily find in the community and my children are healthier. I hope ABPD/ALDEA starts the water and sanitation project soon in the village, this will make our lives much better.”

– Casilda Sisimit Miculax, 41 (March 2015)


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