My Rights Matter (Nuyatalil-Woklen: Mis Derechos son Importantes)

Project Duration
September 2009
October 2013
Funding and Year

The Problem

Child labor affects children of Mayan descent more acutely than children of other groups in Guatemala. Frequently, the obstacles to education include cultural acceptance of child labor, as well as both poor access to and quality of schooling. In the Departments of San Marcos and Totonicapán, children work in the agricultural sector, domestic services, and informal work in public areas. Working children face occupational hazards, including exposure to dangerous substances, vulnerability to abuse, and physical requirements beyond their capacity. Because of the demands of their work, indigenous children experience high drop-out rates and lower school attendance. As a result, the average educational level attained by Mayan children is third grade compared to seventh grade for other children.

Our Strategy

Development Goal:

Child labor free zones are established in the municipalities of Comitancillo and San Lorenzo (Department of San Marcos) and the municipalities of Santa María Chiquimula and Totonicapán (Department of Totonicapán).


A total of 9,320 children in two municipalities of San Marcos Department and two municipalities of Totonicapán Department will be targeted for withdrawal and prevention from child labor. Of this, 5,720 children will be withdrawn from exploitive labor and 3,600 will be prevented from entering exploitive child labor.

Project Objectives:

  • Facilitate the participation of child laborers and children at risk of working in direct education services offered by the project in target areas;
  • Increase capacity of civil society organizations and the private sector to eliminate child labor;
  • Promote the implementation of plans, ordinances, and public policies by government institutions in San Marcos and Totonicapán to combat child labor and promote education; and
  • Raise awareness of the importance of education and child labor issues on municipal, state, and national levels

Summary of Activities:

  • Withdraw 5,720 children and prevent 3,600 children from entering exploitive labor;
  • Implement education models validated to reduce child labor in public schools and vocational institutions and promote their adoption;
  • Institute a healthy schools program to ensure a safe school structure and environment for beneficiaries and encourage school attendance;
  • Establish local commissions of civil society, public, and private sector actors to develop programs to combat child labor on the municipal level;
  • Foster public-private partnerships to combat child labor;
  • Collaborate with USAID-funded programs, including the Alianzas program, to build synergies;
  • Promote leadership through competitive awards that fund innovative proposals to combat child labor;
  • Implement an awareness-raising campaign across government and civil society organizations;
  • Collaborate with the conditional cash transfer program, Mi Familia Progresa, to include withdrawal from child labor as a conditionality;
  • Link beneficiary families to the Mi Familia Progresa program to reduce reliance on child labor; and
  • Facilitate beneficiary families’ participation in vocational skills and income generation opportunities.  

Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Implementing Partners:

Diocesan Caritas of San Marcos Association Conrado de la Cruz

Contact Information: (202) 693-4843 / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)