The crime rate in Guatemala is overall very high. In 2018 an average of 101 murders per week were reported. One of the cities most affected by violence is Escuintla in the south western part of Guatemala, roughly an hour from Antigua. It is the third biggest city of Guatemala, after Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango.
Last week, Lesli Daniela, one of the children who are part of our school supplies project, was accidentally shot in the head while she was in a grocery store. The incident happened in a village in the district of Escuintla. Lesli fell victim to a random drive-by-shooting, which due to gang violence is very common in Guatemala. Sometimes people get killed for as little as 110 $ that they were supposed to pay to a gang leader as “protection fee”.
The bullet that was stuck in her head could only be removed because the children we supply with school material are also provided access to health care. Otherwise the doctors wouldn’t even have done a brain scan.
Every treatment that exceeds basic medical care (comparable to “first aid”) is not free in Guatemala, thus most of its population can not afford it. Lesli has in the meantime been released from hospital and is recovering at home. She is one of the most ambitious students in our school supplies project, only a few weeks ago she got a pair of new shoes, because she is doing so well in school.
While this incident was very shocking to every one of us, it is part of people’s daily reality in Gutemala. Lesli has been very lucky that the bullet could be removed without further damage to the brain. We know that there are many more stories like these and our aim is to help as many children as possible by enrolling them in our school supplies project.