Guatemala (MNN) — It seems most people are aware of Haiti's widespread poverty, but did you know families in Guatemala exist on less than $2 a day?
"That means a family might be eating tortillas with a slight bit of salt on them for their meal each day," said Jennifer Dibble with Bethany Christian Services, "and that's all they're eating throughout the day."
Dibble says adoption is closed in Guatemala, and with no infrastructure for foster care, parents are faced with a very tough choice when they can't financially support their kids.
"Children are joining gangs or getting involved in prostitution and so on," Dibble explained. "It's a very, very desperate need."
That's why Bethany is stepping in to help with their One Family campaign. It launched recently in West Michigan, connecting the city of Grand Rapids with Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
"Our goal is to keep families together," said Dibble. "This is an opportunity for families here in the United States to come alongside one family in Guatemala, supporting them financially for $30 a month."
Bethany case workers in Guatemala are working directly with families in need. They meet with the families, Dibble explained, to assess their level of physical, financial, and spiritual need. Case workers then assign a financial value to these needs and divide the total sum into $30 shares.
"Over the next year, our goal is to see 1,000 sponsorship shares supported for the families in Guatemala," said Dibble. "Currently, we're supporting 15 families in Guatemala; we would be able to support over 100 families.
"That means hundreds of children stay together with their families."
Bethany's One Family program is also active in Tennessee, connecting Knoxville families with people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dibble says people are coming to know Christ through One Family.
"You see this growth, you see this joy, you see this incredible spirit within them just growing," said Dibble. "And that's the hope: that it would build within the individual families we're working with and that it would spill over to positively affect the community."
"They're faced with poverty daily," Dibble said. "The families that they're working with are in very desperate circumstances, and that can be emotionally draining for the staff."