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Good Shepherd Christian Academy, [Santiago]

Panabaj is a small village on Lake Atitlan, just outside the city of Santiago. On October 4, 2005, torrential rains from Hurricane Stan caused massive mud slides down the face of the volcano next to the village. Over 1,000 people died and the village was buried under volcanic mud, rock and debris. Now, the families remaining live in temporary housing in a field adjacent to the village as it is slowly being rebuilt. These families are in extreme poverty and most of the children do not go to school.

In the midst of this tragedy, a Baptist pastor who grew up in this community has taken a leadership role in helping minister to those affected by the crisis. Pastor Diego partnered with Orphan Outreach to create a private Christian school next to his church El Buen Pastor to meet the needs of many of the children who do not have access to education. Good Shepherd Christian Academy opened its doors in January 2009 as a preschool and elementary (Kindergarten, Prepa, First and Second) with approximately 120 students and has grown quickly to serve children through the 6th grade and has close to 200 students.

Orphan Outreach provides sponsorships (includes scholarships, uniforms, supplies and transportation) for 70 children affected from the mudslide devastation to attend Good Shepherd Christian Academy and 10 Good Shepherd graduates to attend middle and high school. Short-term mission teams have traveled to Santiago to work with the children at the school, provide Christmas and medical clinics for the families that live in extreme poverty near Panabaj. Orphan Outreach also supports a church outreach of Pastor Diego in the village of Cerro de Oro. Short term mission teams have visited Cerro de Oro to build homes and engage in evangelism.

Higher Education Tutoring program

In Guatemala the public education system ends at 6th grade. Having only a 6th grade education severely limits job opportunities for the children we serve. We support the school tuition and other expenses to allow children in our program to attend higher education after they graduate from the Good Shepard School in 6th grade.  These Higher Education students would have no other access to advanced education without this program.

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  • Population: 12,728,111 (July 2007)
  • Birth Rate: 29.09 births/1,000 population
  • Death Rate: 5.27 deaths/1,000 population
  • Infant Mortality Rate total: 29.77 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Population below poverty line: 56.2% (2004)
  • Est. # people living with HIV/AIDS: 61,000; 0.9% adult (15-49) prevalence rate (2005)
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2% (2005)
  • Literacy Rate (age 15 + can read & write): 69.1% total population
  • Estimated 370,000 children (0-17) orphaned (2005)
  • Type of Government: Representative democracy
  • Language(s): Spanish (60%); Amerindian languages (40%)
  • Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Caribbean Sea between Honduras and Belize.
  • UNICEF estimates that there are more than 370,000 orphans in Guatemala and at least 5,000 children live on the streets of the capital, abandoned by mothers who are too poor to keep them.
  • Only 24 percent of the population attends Secondary school (1996-2005).
  • Only 58 percent of municipalities have a secondary school.
  • Five out of 10 students who enter primary school in urban areas complete primary school, as opposed to only two out of 10 in rural areas.
  • Some 67 percent of indigenous children suffer from chronic malnutrition.
  • 27 percent of all children under 5 are underweight.
  • The distribution of income remains highly unequal with about 56% of the population below the poverty line.
  • The indigenous population, the Maya, make up about half of the population. Mayan languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Many Guatemalans are of mixed Amerindian-Hispanic origin.
  • Guatemalans live in one of the most inequitable societies in the region. Poverty is particularly widespread in the countryside and among indigenous communities. Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region, life expectancy is among the lowest and, in common with many of its neighbors, the country is plagued by organized crime and violent street gangs.