10 Hard-Hitting Photos That Show How Children Live In Guatemala


Tens of thousands of children cross the Guatemala-Mexico border fleeing violence, poverty, and repression in their native Central American home to the United States.

Guatemalan children

Photographer Katie Orlinsky’s evocative work from Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango elucidate the poverty that continues to push children and families from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to north.


A young boy gathers wood in Quetzaltenango. The area has one of the highest levels of child migration in the country. Many of the children are economic refugees.


Paula (right) washes clothes with female family members in the town of Los Duraznales. She does not go to school.


Romina Alonso Lorenzo, 12, washes dishes at her aunt’s home in Concepción Chiquirichapa.


Alysa Karina, 16, prepares atole at her aunt’s home. She does not attend school.


Many students miss days or months of school in order to work. It is common to see children of varied ages in the same grade.


Jonathan, 13, works in a Guatemala City cemetery cutting and arranging flowers. He goes to school in the afternoon.


Adonias, 13, sells garlic at the largest market in Guatemala City.


A 4-year-old stands outside her home in Quetzaltenango with her aunts. Along with her mother, she attempted to migrate to the United States, but they were caught in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. They were imprisoned and abused before being deported back to Guatemala. The girl’s mother is unable to eat or speak after the brutal experience.


The Alonso Lorenzo sisters, from left to right: Romina, 12, Alysa Karina, 16, and Isabel, 8, in Concepción Chiquirichapa. The sisters are orphans; their 14-year-old sister recently migrated to the United States, where she works to help support them. They currently live with their aunt in a cramped two-room home.


A girl studies against a wall in Guatemala City.


All photos by Katie Orlinsky for Too Young to Wed, in collaboration with Humanity United.


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  1. I still don’t understand what’s so horrible about these images. The poverty? One may be poor but happy, and in developed countries where people have more wealth, there seems to be less sense of fulfillment and happiness. Is it that the way of life portrayed is so vastly different from ours? Why do we assume our way of life is the better way? We should be careful not to confuse these things from the lack of personal choice that the very poor have. I’m not so sure I see that in these images. In these images I see a beautiful people group that has managed to keep their age-old traditions despite the imposing society that surrounds it.

    • Judith, you clearly have never gone hungry in your life.
      You’re not being empathetic nor sympathetic simply because you don’t understand their pain. If you did, I’m sure these pictures wouldn’t look so “normal” to you.

    • did you read the captions? Hardly any of these children go to school. They work their asses off to help provide for their families. What would happen in the US if parents had their children working? They’d get taken by social services. The sad thing is, you think this is beautiful.

    • Having been born, and grown up in Guatemala I’m grateful every day to have more opportunities presented to me.

      You think they have a choice? They’re merely trying to survive.

      If you think it’s so peachy, would you trade your life for theirs, there’s nothing like first hand experience.

  2. Here the in the world many counties put all their money into weapons instead of helping the poor. I wonder what the world would be like if there were more women leaders instead of men? To much fighting.

  3. Hi Anon!
    Rock on. Loving your work guys and gals.
    Doing my homework.
    Hope you all like my profile pic, the mask.
    I do expect you. 🙂
    XOXO All members wrongfully behind bars.

  4. Unfortunately this is true, i’m from Guatemala i’ve seen a lot of people in my country in this way an especially children, they are the most affected by this situation, some of them have to work for keeping their families alive. And in this way they can´t develop their skills as children, and they get some issues when they go to school, also the public schools have the worse education in the country and if somebody wants to get high-quality education the only way is going to the private schools, and some are too expensive, it reduces the opportunities of getting a good education and developement of children in my country.


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