Refuge International

Improving lives through healthcare, nutrition, clean water, and education.

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Where We Serve

The Plight of Guatemala's Indigenous Population

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Guatemala mapGuatemala suffered a 36-year civil war that ended with the 1996 Peace Accords. It was one of the most violent wars in history. Over 200,000 people were killed, 80% of which were of Mayan or other indigenous decent.

There are 21 different indigenous groups in Guatemala and 24 recognized, unique languages spoken throughout the country. Among a majority of Guatemala’s population, Spanish is not the native language.

Indigenous populations have been marginalized in Guatemala for decades, often through government policy. Prejudice openly exists against these people and it shows in their lower socio-economic status and inability to obtain quality healthcare and education. School lessons are predominantly provided only in Spanish and for the most part, the medical community only speaks Spanish. And language isn’t the only barrier to health care. Cultural barriers exist as well. Very few doctors recognize the traditional use of natural medicines and remedies that the Mayan population more readily understands and trusts. Many indigenous people try to combine both types of medicine which can further complicate the health of the individual.

In Guatemala, there exists a significant imbalance in the country’s wealth and the indigenous comprise the largest segment of the country’s poor. Empowering the indigenous population to break the current cycle of poverty comes by building education and health care systems that they can better use. Years after the war has ended, many in Guatemala still search for justice and are yet unable to find peace.

Refuge International currently serves local communities in three very different regions of Guatemala: San Raymundo, Sarstún and Petén.

 

How Can You Help?

Be a Medical Mission Trip Volunteer 

  • Learn more about what it means (and what it takes) to be a medical mission volunteer. We guarantee the experience will change how you see the world.

Make a donation:

  • Financial support helps the purchase of medications, supplies and equipment used during our mission trips. You can also choose to sponsor a medical mission trip volunteer (someone who wants to share their expertise and talents in service but don't have the financial resources to do so). 
  • You can also donate supplies and equipment. Contact our office to arrange pick-up or delivery. 

Upcoming Trips

October 17-24, 2020
San Raymundo Medical Mission

UMU Village Clinic Week
Nov 29 - Dec 6, 2020
Sarstun Medical Mission

December 4-11, 2020
Sarstun Medical Mission