A Voice for the Voiceless: Radio Hosts Speak on Behalf of Guatemala's Poor

For the first time, 13 radio hosts representing stations from Hawaii to Florida traveled with FFP to the mountainous region of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 8, 2012) — A home in the mountains overlooking lush green tree tops, hazy blue skies as far as the eye can see and a crisp clean breeze to caress the skin would be considered by most an ideal place to live.

Ironically, one of the most beautiful places in Central America is also one the poorest places in which Food For The Poor works. People who live in the mountainous region of Quetzaltenango, which is a five-hour bus ride from Guatemala’s capital of Guatemala City, are some of the poorest of the poor. Most are surprised to learn that Guatemala, not Haiti, has by far the worst situation in regards to childhood malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere.

“Families are dying daily,” said Doug Bursch, Radio Host on KGNW 820 AM in Seattle, Wash. “They are dying physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Poverty steals their dreams, stunts their growth, destroys their youth, and takes away their children.”

Bursch’s words sum up what life is like for some of the people he met on his trip to Guatemala with Food For The Poor in February – people like Maria Macario, a 61-year-old widow and her family of 12.  Families like Maria’s are living in cramped mud huts and are starving. The only source of protein for many of the children comes from the dead animals plucked from a nearby ravine during the frequent floods. Most receive their daily meal from whatever they pick from the garbage dump in the valley below.

Maria Macario, 61, far right, is seated with nine of the 11 family members with whom she shares a one-room dwelling in the mountains of Quetzaltenango.

For 12 years, Food For The Poor’s Radio Marketing department has traveled with radio hosts from across the United States to Jamaica and Haiti to fundraise. For the first time, 13 hosts representing stations from Hawaii to Florida, joined Food For The Poor and its on-air personalities on a five-day journey to Guatemala for the 2012 “Day of Hope” 40 station radio campaign.

“In order to paint an accurate picture of what poverty is like in the third world it was imperative for these radio hosts to see for themselves how difficult day-to-day life really is for people without the bare necessities,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “They have been entrusted with this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the women and children they’ve met in Guatemala.  They will be able to do this by sharing their own personal experiences with their loyal listeners here in the United States.”

In this video, Dawn O’Brien, Radio Host on The Fish 95.5 in Honolulu, Hawaii, introduces us to Josefa Morales. Morales is a single mother of 10 who was abandoned by her husband.  Her children often scavenge the dumps in search of something to eat. 

“I thought I knew what poverty was like because I‘ve been there as a child, but you forget so fast,” said O’Brien. “I think this short mission trip was absolutely worth it, just for us to remember that this is how many in the world live.”  

Doug Bursch, host on Seattle's KGNW 820 AM, was overwhelmed with emotion after meeting a woman sharing a one-room home with her five daughters and their six children.

In this video, Elizabeth Kay, Radio Host on 99.1 The Mix in Milwaukee, Wis. shares the story of Catarina Sacrohope, a 27-year-old widow with four young children. Sacrohope and her family are literally living on the edge of a cliff with a 100-foot drop to the rocky ground beneath them. 

“We all have our challenges, but thankfully in the United States we do have the means, as tough as they are, to try to get a little bit of help,” said Kay. “These people don’t have a little bit of help on their own; they need an organization like Food For The Poor because that is their only option.”

After getting up close and personal with utter despair, there were moments of jubilation for these first-time visitors to the Central American country. Food For The Poor took the group to the main street market of Quetzaltenango to buy fruit, vegetables, and meat for the children of the El Chulin Feeding Center, where they helped to prepare a special meal for them. While at the center, the radio personalities lived up to their title by playing rounds of football and entertaining the children with their cell phone cameras and broken Spanish.

The group also visited a thriving animal husbandry project of pigs and chickens.  They got to see a successful tilapia-farm, a pelibuey (cross-breed between goats and sheep) project and the Xela community of 75 homes, which are all funded by donors through Food For The Poor. While in Guatemala the ministry’s local partners managed to procure land for the families visited by the radio hosts. Thanks to the generosity of the organization’s caring donors, these families will soon have a sturdy home away from edges of cliffs.

The radio hosts purchased fresh fruit, vegetables and meat from the main street market in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, for the children of the El Chulin Feeding Center.

“The greatest gift that we can share with the poor is our gift of presence.  It comes with a feeling of brotherhood, caring, walking the extra mile, and of coming out of our very comfortable worlds; daring to understand their world of suffering and sorrow.  It comes with an offer of love and hope,” said Aloma.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Contact:
Wanda Wright
Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6079
wandaw@foodforthepoor.com