Our mission is to improve the health and education of indigenous communities of northern Guatemala and southern Mexico who live in poverty and have no access to affordable medical care.
The Hospital de la Familia, located in the town of Nuevo Progreso, Guatemala, was formally opened and dedicated on February 8, 1976. It exists due to the vision and commitment of three extraordinary individuals: Padre Cayetano Bertoldo, a local priest from Italy; Jack Younger, a successful builder from the San Francisco Bay Area and Jeanine Archimbaud, a Canadian dedicated to working in poor communities in Latin America.
In the late 1960’s, while working to serve the local community, Padre Bertoldo and Ms. Archimbaud identified a significant need for both education and medical care in the small village of Nuevo Progresso. They established a makeshift clinic, a dispensary pharmacy and a sewing school for women and girls.
In the early 1970’s they met Jack Younger. He also recognized that the needs of the people (primarily indigenous Maya) in this region were much greater and that a larger effort was necessary. Through his contacts in the United States, Mr. Younger raised the initial $100,000 to fund the construction of the hospital and the project began in 1972, with local Guatemalans helping to build the initial structure.
Padre Bertoldo and Jack Younger remained a driving force behind the hospital until their passing, Mr. Younger in 2014 and Padre Bertoldo in 2004.
Today, Hospital de la Familia has a full-time staff caring for an average of 20,000 patients a year. Surgical teams from the U.S. provide highly skilled treatment and specialty care, performing over 1500 surgical operations every year. In addition to the hospital and outpatient clinics, Hospital de la Familia established a Nutrition Center to house and feed malnourished children and a Dental Clinic.
Hospital de la Familia has become more than a medical center as there is now a nursing school within the hospital, a grade school for the town, computer training and continued sewing classes are also offered for the community. Hospital de la Familia’s activities in Guatemala are funded in part by the Hospital de la Familia Foundation, a non-profit California Corporation, supported by the generous help of the medical community and donors throughout the U.S.
Since 1976, a clinic employing Guatemalan doctors and nurses has operated year-round, treating general medical problems. There are currently approximately 60 full-time employees, including 3 Guatemalan general practitioners, 2 Guatemalan ophthalmologists, 12 Guatemalan nurses and 3-4 nurse/nun instructors and supervisors.
Large surgical teams of more than 40 members travel to Nuevo Progreso 4 to 5 times each year. These teams' composition can vary, but in general they consist of Plastic Surgery, General Surgery, Gynecology, ENT and Optometry & Ophthalmology specialists. Additionally, during the past few years, we have been fortunate to have small Ophthalmology teams helping to care for the great back load of eye patients. The Dental clinic treats between 1200 and 1500 patients per year with dental care and instruction. The Nutrition Center treats more than 50 children a year under the age of six, with an average stay of 3 months.
Facts & Figures
Facts About Guatemala https://theodora.com/guatemala
Poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, disease- these are but a few of the issues facing the people of Guatemala. Guatemala has the largest economy and highest population in Central America. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala's overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty.
Nearly one-half of Guatemala's children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. Guatemala is facing growing fiscal pressures exacerbated by multiple corruption scandals in 2015 that led to the resignation of the president, vice president, and numerous high-level economic officials. The World Bank 2010 data for Guatemala indicates that the Gross National Income (GNI) Per Capita for Guatemala is $2,740 and for the Lower Middle class the average annual income is $1,619 in US dollars. The few earn much more than the many.
While the national language of Guatemala is Spanish, over 40% of the population speaks one of 23 indigenous languages. In the area surrounding Nuevo Progreso, these languages are Mam, Cakchiquel and Quiche. Many of these same indigenous people do not speak Spanish. This isolates them from the ability to communicate outside of their immediate community, gain an education and pull out of the impoverished cycle they have existed in for many years. It becomes even more important that the children have the opportunity of education so they can reverse this trend.
The literacy rate of Guatemalans over the age of 15 is just 75% - apart from Haiti, this is the lowest literacy rate in the Western Hemisphere. Changing Guatemala's future means investing in the education of its youth.