Singer, Actress Jaci Velasquez Travels to Guatemala with Food For The Poor

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Christian singer Jaci Velasquez sings to children in Guatemala.
Contemporary Christian singer Jaci Velasquez sings to children in Guatemala.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2013) – “Behind these beautiful mountains is hidden some of the worst poverty you’ll ever see in your life,” said Jaci Velasquez, contemporary Christian recording artist and actress, as she stood in a lush flower-laden valley in the mountainous region of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.    

The poverty Velasquez witnessed in late October is a stark contrast to the 34-year-old entertainer’s daily life in Nashville, Tenn., where she’s an on-air personality on the Christian radio station 94 FM The Fish. Velasquez traveled to the Central American country with Food For The Poor to support the international relief and development organization’s radio feeding campaign.

During the three-day visit, Velasquez saw some of the best of what the country has to offer, but it was during a stop at the Piedra Rana Garbage Dump in Quetzaltenango that she also saw true poverty. She met Mercedes Gonzalez, a 31-year-old woman and her five young children, foraging through filth in search of anything that could be sold.     

“I am very poor and I don’t have anything. We work in the dump all day and we all sleep under a rock nearby at night,” said Gonzalez. “All that I earn here from the recycling is all that I have to feed my children.” 

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Velasquez has been singing professionally for 17 years, has sold more than 4 million albums and has had 16 number-one radio hits. The singer has graced the cover of 50 magazines and even had a role in the 2002 movie, Chasing Papi. A wife and a mother of two young boys, Velasquez says nothing has impacted her more than what she saw in the garbage dump that day.

“I’ve been on many mission trips, but this mission trip is the hardest thing I’ve seen and experienced because of the extreme poverty and the extreme need. This is their reality – I can’t even put it into words,” said Velasquez. “I know I am going to get a warm shower when I get home, but they can’t even get a clean glass of water. It doesn’t seem fair.”

For 13 years, Food For The Poor’s Radio Marketing department has traveled with its on-air personalities and radio hosts from across the United States to Jamaica, Haiti and Guatemala. As the radio hosts campaign for funding to help feed and house the poor, they also educate their listeners about the poverty that plagues parts of the Caribbean and Latin America.

“A celebrity like Jaci Velasquez could easily have written a check and moved on, but she took the time to travel to Guatemala with us and to see firsthand what daily life is really like for families who are truly destitute,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “We are extremely grateful that she has chosen to work with this organization and to help us help the poorest of the poor to receive some of the basic necessities in life such as clean water, food, and a safe place to sleep at night.”

Like the bright colors woven into the fabrics worn by the meekest of Guatemala’s citizens, their gracious spirit shines through, leaving a lasting impression on all who meet them.  

“They always send a blessing to us first, praying that God will protect us and keep us safe. They think of other people more than themselves. They are in need and we need to do something to help them,” said Velasquez.

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as 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 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.


Wanda Wright

Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6079