Paraguay is a country located in central South America with a population of 6.7 million people. While its poverty rate has declined in recent years, Paraguay remains one of the poorest nations on the continent, with 26.9% of people living in poverty in 2020. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas, where more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line. As citizens struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters and government corruption, charities are stepping up to provide vital aid to those most in need. Below are the five charities operating in Paraguay that are working to improve the lives of its locals.
1. Fundación Paraguaya
Fundación Paraguaya is the first of the five charities operating in Paraguay. It focuses on eliminating poverty, targeting mainly young people and women. It teaches skills to enable impoverished families to improve their financial situations, teaches entrepreneurial skills and strengthens small businesses by providing loans.
Fundación Paraguaya’s Self-Sustainable Agricultural Schools, which teach entrepreneurial skills to young people living in rural areas, have been particularly successful. In 2021, the HundrED Research Report recognized the schools as having a “tremendous’” impact on agricultural communities. So far, the school has enabled 97 graduates to learn real-world skills which have helped them to become financially self-sustainable.
2. Fondo de Mujeres del Sur
Fondo de Mujeres del Sur (FMS) is a nonprofit based across Latin America that aims to empower women and other marginalized communities. FMS fights for the sexual and reproductive rights of women, runs programs to tackle gender and sexuality-based discrimination and promotes economic justice for women in Paraguay.
The work of FMS is especially important due to the highly prevalent gender inequalities and violence against women in Paraguay. The World Bank reports that between 2019 and 2022, there were 143 cases of femicide. The fact that there were reports of 30 cases of femicide between January to September 2022, six more than in the same period the previous year, indicates that violence against women is not going to reduce on its own and that organizations such as FMS should tackle it through its work.
From 2012 to 2015, FMS implemented a program to defend and promote women’s labor rights. The program provided financial and technical support to organizations and unions of female workers in the domestic and sewing industry in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It enabled meetings between organizations in order to allow women to collaborate in advancing their rights. In Paraguay alone, three female worker organizations received support thanks to FMS.
3. Global Infancia
Global Infancia is a Paraguay-based charity that aims to create a culture of respecting children’s and adolescents’ rights. Not only does it lobby the government to enact laws that protect children, but it also engages with and informs the public on issues affecting children’s rights and works with families and children in Paraguay to improve their lives.
Global Infancia’s impact is of particular importance due to the widespread mistreatment of children in Paraguay. The Paraguayan government ran a survey in 2017 involving approximately 8,000 households and found that nearly 50% of those interviewed used violence as a form of discipline against children.
Global Infancia’s community development program works to improve the quality of life for underprivileged children and adolescents in the cities of Remansito and Villeta. It is currently providing over 1,700 under-18s with educational and early developmental services, as well as helping them to develop skills that will prepare them to enter working life.
4. Caritas Paraguay
Caritas Paraguay (locally known as Pastoral Social Nacional) is a nonprofit addressing the needs of what it calls “the new faces of poverty: people deprived of their liberty, the homeless, immigrants and small farmers.” While the charity began as a U.S. aid program, delivering food, clothing and medicines, its role has evolved and it now raises awareness about poverty, promotes grassroots groups and encourages community organization.
Along with Caritas’s yearly Lent campaign, the charity has also launched an emergency appeal in response to the flooding in the region of Chaco. As the majority of those that the yearly foods affect belong to agricultural, indigenous communities facing high levels of poverty, Caritas’s work is vital in helping those who are most in need.
5. Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is an international charity fighting global poverty and homelessness, which has helped more than 4,500 families in Paraguay alone. Its branch in Paraguay focuses on tackling the poor housing situation where, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, 39% of families in urban areas live in inadequate housing. The housing situation affects indigenous farming communities even more, as the number of families living in inadequate housing increases to 50% in rural areas.
Habitat is helping Paraguayans by offering assistance in the repairing and building of homes for underprivileged families, allowing them to repay loans through affordable mortgages. It also offers affordable construction materials to locals and grant credits for the construction of houses to families who cannot afford traditional loans.
While Paraguay is yet to overcome the challenges of poverty and inequality, these five charities operating in Paraguay are instrumental in providing aid to the neediest and impoverished. Women, children, the indigenous population and small farmers, groups that the rest of the society often overlooks, benefit greatly from the work of these charities, and hopefully will continue to do so with further donations and support.
– Priya Thakkar