Advocacy in Guatemala

 

My recent trip to the mountains of Guatemala left me in awe of the work Food for the Hungry does there, and I fell in love with the beautiful people of this rich country.

The purpose of our trip was to show people of political influence the success of our work on fighting chronic malnutrition while recruiting advocates for United States foreign aid. While many of our friends of Capitol Hill happily think well of our work, it’s another thing entirely to offer them a first-hand experience, to walk the trails to community gardens, shake the hands of leaders, witness the smiling faces of healthy children, listen to the personal accounts of mothers, and see the charts documenting growth milestones. Being there makes all the difference, and we need all the help we can get.

A recent survey of Americans revealed that a shocking majority of people believe that over 25 percent of the United States national budget is dedicated to foreign aid. That number in fact only represents about one percent. However, that penny on the dollar investment in the people of other nations not only represents the expected Christian humanitarian response to need and suffering, it’s also the most economical way to bridge foreign divides and create allies, reduce the need for military interventions, and stimulate global economies.

I traveled with Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Ambassador Tony Hall, and Lucas Koach, who is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy with FH. Together, we visited two communities and heard stories of transformation made possible by collaborations from all sides, including national foreign assistance via funding from USAID. FH walks with these communities for years to identify their largest obstacles and works to create solutions.

We first visited Chicujal and heard from Marta, whose older children struggled to grow, were chronically malnourished and today still feel the effects of that stunting. She shared about her younger children who are growing strong and healthy thanks to the interventions of FH and the provision of Nutributter.

This community looks entirely different today than when FH began working here in 2009. Today there is a water system that brings clean water into the community, there are over 20 community gardens that provide nutritious food for families, and through FH training on various topics, the children are healthier than they’ve ever been.

We also were able to visit the community of Satexa where we heard about their process for measuring and monitoring the growth of the children. We also visited the home of Albertina to hear about how her son Hamiton is thriving. We stopped off at the local school to meet the children and thank the teachers for their incredible contribution.

 

I know our guests from Washington went home to a new perspective and a more open heart for the poor. If they were anything like me, they not only saw the need and the poverty, but they saw the richness of the people there. They saw their culture and their devotion to their communities. They saw their ability to be self-sustaining and learn. They saw image bearers of God living in a beautiful place full of possibility.

However, my biggest hope is that they saw their own role in bringing opportunity to their new Guatemalan friends and others like them from all over the globe. The best part is that being an advocate for the least of these isn’t a task reserved for politicians and lawmakers. Your influence makes a monumental difference. Here are three ways you can advocate for the vulnerable:

1. Contact your members of Congress and Senators.

There is power in your voice and when you use it to petition those in positions of power, you’re helping Food for the Hungry work towards shifting policy and changing public opinions around the importance of alleviating poverty globally.

Contact your member of Congress on behalf of the vulnerable and ask them to support U.S. foreign assistance programs, which help lift the poor out of extreme poverty. We’ve even written a letter for you! All you have to do is fill out your information and we’ll send it to your state representatives. Click here to write.

2. Pray for the vulnerable and for the FH’s work with lawmakers.

Prayer is one of the most compelling and influential ways we can petition God to move in the lives of the vulnerable. It serves as the greatest intangible gift that you can offer. Please pray for our staff as they petition lawmakers to mobilize their influence towards a world without extreme poverty.

Our Father in Heaven,
Please guide the Food for the Hungry staff as they seek to work with lawmakers and elected officials on behalf of vulnerable people. We ask for your favor as they leverage their influence to create policies, legislation and systems that will protect all of your children. I ask that you offer your hand of protection over them as they seek to bring about restoration to your precious people.
Amen

You can even download our ebook on how to pray for our leaders.

3. Share on your social media platforms.

No matter your position, you have influence among your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and extended community. One of the biggest ways that you can leverage that influence on behalf of the vulnerable is by sharing stories of impact and connecting others to Food for the Hungry. We hope that you’ll share the message of hope and ask others to join you in your advocacy efforts. You can find more resources and some social shareables here.