Life in Rural Guatemala is Hard but Beautiful. {Video Series}


I recently went to Guatemala to film a promotional video for a non-profit called Cooperative For Education.

Author’s note: Watching all 4 videos is a commitment, but I promise lots of smiles and sweet moments.

Their mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education. What they do is simple, they give scholarships to kids so that they can study past the 6th grade (only 18 percent of Guatemalans graduate from high school).

A higher education means more opportunity, more money, support for the family and so on. It’s hard to get an education in Guatemala due to a number of factors, but mainly the lack of money.

In Spanish, the word “confianza” means trust, and in order to document life in a genuine manner, the people would have to trust me.

I decided that the best way to gain this trust would be to live with families in their homes. I didn’t want to just pop in for a few hours, swing my camera around, and go back to a hotel. I instead became part of the family for a short time, taking bucket baths, working with dad in the fields, and sleeping in a small room with grandma, grandpa and little sister.

The videos you see here are personal video diaries of my time living with two different families. I simply focused my camera on the activities of their daily lives.

I filmed the men tilling the fields (getting the ground ready to plant seeds), followed the kids as they walked three miles to school, hung out with mom in the kitchen, and finished off every day playing with kids (my favorite part).

Life is hard in rural Guatemala. On a good day, men make about 50 Quetzales (6.5 dollars) working in the fields. Women mainly take care of home duties and can occasionally make money selling goods in the market. This doesn’t leave much money for anything but the necessities.

Unfortunately, the costs of education (especially for multiple kids) are almost impossible for a family to cover. Most kids get to the sixth grade, and after this, are needed at home to help out the family. This is where Cooperative For Education steps in, giving scholarships to promising young people so that they can continue on and get a degree.

I had an absolutely amazing experience with these families, they treated me like a brother and shared an intimate part of their lives with me. We have a lot to learn from the gentle and appreciative nature of the Guatemaltecos. *




Author: Ryan van Duzer

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Author’s Own





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Gabriela Mar 17, 2016 1:02am

Ryan, where do I begin? You've done such an amazing job taking me back to my home country. Of reminding me how blessed we are to live in the US and have the luxuries that we do in comparison to people in most of the world. The laugh of those children is what inspired me to do more for them and your contribution along with the Coed organization is so touching, so needed and so special. Thank you for taking the time to document this, for breaking away from fears or stigmas and learning how beautiful life in all different places regardless of comfort. You're a very bright light who I hope continues shining as we desperately need more like you. You had me laughing, smiling and tearing up all throughout your videos. Loved them so very much. Best of luck and thanks again. Much love and lift your way xo

fay Mar 16, 2016 12:19am


(lot of good writing ..)

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Ryan Van Duzer

Ryan Van Duzer is a proud Boulder native, loves sleeping under the stars, and is happiest on a bike. He works as a video journalist and TV host, appearing on Discovery Channel’s Out Of the Wild and hosting various series for TravelChannel.com. He also works as a bicycle advocate for People for Bikes and loves inspiring people to get out and ride. If you’re ever in Boulder, you can probably find Ryan at the nearest burrito joint. To see Ryan’s videos from around the world, visit his Youtube Page.