Nearly half of Guatemala's entire population is under the age of 18. 41% of young people have an indigenous background, and two thirds of indigenous families live in poverty or extreme poverty.
There are high rates of child labour, and children are usually involved in informal and hazardous activities such as garbage collection and night work in factories.
A large majority of Guatemalan children are subject to daily violations of their rights, including exclusion from education and healthcare, physical and emotional abuse and sexual and labour exploitation.
Centro Ecuménico de Integración Pastoral (CEIPA) provides education, vocational training and protection for child and adolescent labourers in 19 municipalities in Guatemala.
CEIPA supports and protects children who work in the local markets of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. It lobbies for children's rights and the active civic participation of children through the creation of local child-led commissions that work alongside the municipality on child-related issues.
CEIPA's schooling model offers both a standard education for children and adolescents, and an accelerated education for those who have missed out as a result of having to work, as well as vocational training in employability and microenterprise.
In the past 25 years, CEIPA has improved knowledge of child rights, and more and more municipalities have started to invest in child protection. More than 8,000 child and adolescent labourers now have greater access to education, and more than 900 young people trained in employability skills.
More than 700 children have been removed from labour and 4,500 have reduced their working hours. 1,000 children have been trained as promoters of child rights, and more than 1,000 abuse cases have now been legally addressed.
Photos: Carlos Duarte