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Guatemalan schools use UNICEF funds


BBC News, La Tinta, Guatemala /Mirrorpix/Getty Image.

It's a fact even many die-hard Abba fans don't know. The 1979 blockbuster "Chiquitita" did not turn a profit for the Swedish supergroup, despite selling millions of copies in 40 years.

Written for UNICEF's Childhood Year, Chiquitita (meaning "girl" in Spanish) was also Abba's first song recorded in Spanish and was a huge success in Latin America. From the beginning, Ulvaeus says it was clear what the band wanted to do with the royalties.

"We gave the copyright to Unicef," its composer and founding member of Abba, Bjorn Ulvaeus, told the BBC.

"Chiquitita played a lot, streamed a lot, and sold many records, so a lot of money has come in over the years. So I'm pleased about that.

"I think the most urgent thing we can do on this planet is the empowerment of young women and girls. It will change our world," he said. “Sadly, there are cultures and religions around the world that do not give girls equal opportunities, so early on I said I wanted to spend money on UNICEF.”

At Echo Hall in the town of La Tinta in Alta Verapaz, one of Guatemala's poorest areas, a group of indigenous girls perform Chiquitita, translated into Qekchi, the native language of the Maya people. gain. gain. gain.

Elementary school students attend a workshop on health and self-esteem by Friends of Development and Peace (ADP), one of Guatemala's oldest NGOs.

Profits from Chiquitita go to Unicef - which uses the money to pay for health education in schools like this one in Guatemala.

There is a chronic lack of sexual health education in Central American countries, especially in poor indigenous communities. Last year, 346 girls under the age of 14 gave birth in Alta Verapaz. Children under the age of 16 also had children.

One of them was Emma, ​​but that's not her real name.

Emma soothes a 6-month-old boy while practicing breathing exercises with one of the ADP psychologists. A victim of domestic violence and rape, she receives violence prevention, physical dependence assistance from ADP, and asandreastfeeding support.

Through an interpreter, Emma spoke to me in Kekchi and told me about family therapy with her parents. One-on-one emotional support helped me cope with such a violent and intimidating approach to motherhood.

"I learned a lot about controlling my emotions," she explained.

Emma's story is common in Alta Verapaz. In fact, it's quite common for her sister to also be the mother of a sexually abused teen.

"Machismo is woven into the Mayan culture," said Leslie Poe Soto, one of the ADP's children psychologists.

"Here cardamom, coffee, cocoa, corn, and beans are produced, the emphasis is on male physical fitness, and the women are minimized and housebound."

Women are generally not allowed to study and women who attempt to study or work are stigmatized. I follow whatever they want," she added.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammatti's government has been criticized for letting down victims of domestic violence and rape. Impunity is rampant. Only 1-2 out of 100 perpetrators are prosecuted or convicted.

In Alta Verapaz, the state has appointed just one victim support psychologist for a population of hundreds of thousands. Her name is Annie Juarez.

"We are always flawed," she said from La Tinta's dingy office, blaming the government's online portals.

Alta Verapaz is the poorest region in Guatemala.

However, in the mountains of Guatemala, the internet is often not widely available and many households are computer savvy.

Therefore, ADP created promotional spots in Kekchi and other Mayan languages ​​for local radio. We also send teams of social workers to remote communities to help abused children and their families.

In the Salac Uno community, I work with an 8-year-old girl (her real name is not Marta) who was sexually abused by an older boy.

Some families refuse an organized approach, especially if the attacker lives inside the home. But after the girl's school identified the abuse, Marta's mother Doña Lydia, a teacher, welcomed the help.

"Men have treated us badly, but things are changing," she said.

Doña Lydia says men are starting to respect women's rights.

43 years after its release, Chiquitita Loyalty seeks to address some of the most complex issues affecting Central America, from extreme poverty and intergenerational macho culture to domestic violence and rape. is. teeth. teeth. teeth. teeth. It is also used in alcohol abuse among marginalized indigenous communities.

Also, countless “Chiquititas” like Marta and Emma have meaningful support in their native language. Before traveling to Guatemala, I asked Björn Ulvaeus if he expected the song to have such a lasting legacy when he wrote it.

"You are not thinking about longevity!" he laughed. "You're like, 'Well, I hope it's a hit and gets a lot of plays!

"I never dreamed it would last this long and bring in so much money. It's the greatest legacy anyone could hope for."

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