Photographer: Lys Arango
Title: Until the corn grows back
Location: Guatemala
Period: 09/2019 - 06/2021
Category: Environment

In Guatemala, 1 out of 2 children are chronically malnourished, the highest number in Latin America. Climate change is destroying the crops of hundreds of thousands of small farmers, fueling a human crisis and creating a new pattern of migration: the climate refugees. But instead of following the path of the refugees, I point my lens towards the daily realities of where these people come from. I focus on the underlying causes, zooming in on the daily realities of living in a place where food is scarce.

Malnutrition is an underreported phenomenon. Although we all know that hunger exists, we rarely see the daily experiences of those in need. Children suffering from malnutrition experience physical and cognitive constraints, which leads to perpetuating the cycle of poverty. In particular, I highlight from the perspective of the children and their families in indigenous communities of Chiquimula and Huehuetenango to understand the devastating effects of chronic child malnutrition, also called the ‘silent killer’.

With my project, started in 2019, I want to raise consciousness to this topic, especially since food security is an increasingly prominent issue in the near future.

Israel carries corn back home Over the last two years his family has seen near-total crop losses as the effects of climate change take hold in the region Chiquimula Guatemala October 2019

A malnourished baby sleeps on the floor of a house in San Antonio Huista His parents left in search of work on the coffee plantations and his care was left to his siblings In Guatemala 1 out of every two children suffers from chronic malnutrition the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean Huehuetenango No- vember 2019

Minga and her husband are on the way to the hospital in San Miguel Acata n She was on the verge of death after several hours of trying to give birth at home If she hadn t gone to the hospital urgently Minga would have drained her blood The precariousness of the health system in indigenous areas puts the lives of thousands of women and men at risk throughout the Guatemalan territory Huehuetenango November 2019

Petrona sits on a wooden bench inside the chuj a Ma- yan steam room Night has covered the skies over Suntelaj in the highlands of northwestern Guatemala where electricity has not yet arrived The 10-year-old girl holds a candle in her hands and her empty stomach growls There is no corn or beans left Over the past two years her family has suffered near-total crop losses as the effects of climate change take hold in the region Their only livelihood is seasonal work on the coffee plantations where Petrona has worked since she was five years old There is only one resounding answer when- questioning her dreams migrating to the United States Huehuetenango November 2019 br

Nine-year-old Marcos Alexander carries wood from the forest to his house At least three times a week he performs this task with his father so that his mother can cook Next year he will start harvesting coffee in Honduras to contribute to the family economy San Juan Ermita Chiquimula April 2021

An elderly woman in her home in Minas Arriba San Juan Ermita She had 12 children but 4 of them died due to malnutrition May 2021

17-year-old Mari a Estefani a weighs 40 kg and is breastfeeding her 11-month-old son who weighs only 6 kg His cheeks and stomach are stretched and his hair is falling out - classic symptoms of malnutrition Chiquimula October 2019

Our Lady of Guadalupe holds a special place in the religious life of Guatemalan families They pray for good rains they pray for a good harvest Huehuetenango November 2019

Dora Su chite and her daughter Tomasa from the Mayan Chorti ethnic group peel corn to prepare tortillas the basis of Guatemalan food In recent years climate change has destroyed more than half of their bean and corn harvest forcing them to migrate as seasonal workers to large coffee or sugar cane farms in order to feed their families Chiquimula October 2019

Indigenous seasonal workers have breakfast at 6 in the coffee plantation located in San Antonio Huis- ta They are employed for the harvest between four and six months a year during which time they live in a wooden construction called a galera within the farm Families are paid well below the official minimum wage and the food they eat is deducted from the final salary Huehuetenango January 2020

Forest fires in the Chiquimula region are also contributing to droughts affecting the Dry Corridor in Central America San Juan Ermita Chiquimula Guatemala April 2021

Mari a Su chite died in Minas Abajo San Juan Ermita 2020 ended with almost double the number of children detected suffering from acute malnutrition com- pared to previous years April 2021