Isabel’s Story

 

In Guatemala children like Isabel suffer serious illnesses and are unlikely to attend secondary school due to limited access to healthcare and education services. Developing countries like Guatemala lose more money to tax dodging than they receive in aid, losing money that could provide essential services like healthcare and education.

 

 

The story

Isabel* is four years old and recovering from acute malnutrition. Isabel lives in a rural area of Guatemala and is only able to be fed once or twice a week. Such lack of food physically and mentally stunts a child’s growth and development.  The traditional foods of Guatemala are beans, tortillas, fruits and vegetables and would provide children and all citizens with a healthy and balanced diet. Unfortunately malnutrition, like Isabel experienced, is not rare in Guatemala; half of all children under five in the country suffer from this illness. 

To find out more about tax and poverty in Guatemala read this blog.

* Isabel's real image is not used in this campaign.

What’s the issue?

 

Sustainable development is underpinned by efficient tax systems, which help provide the necessary finances to establish better infrastructure, healthcare and education services. However corporate tax dodging deprives governments of the necessary revenue taxation should provide. Guatemala has one of the lowest tax burdens in the world with high rates of tax dodging and corruption, weakening its tax system. Due to complex systems of secrecy, developing countries like Guatemala lack the necessary resources and information to tackle tax dodging on their own.

The amount of money flowing out of countries due to corporate tax dodging is enough to help lift developing nations, like Guatemala, out of poverty. 

Our desire is for poor nations like Guatemala to increase tax revenue, reduce their dependence on aid and to develop their capacity to provide health, education and nutrition to their own citizens.

Read more about tax dodging and development 

How can we change this?

Most multinational corporations currently only publish a set of consolidated global or regional financial reports. This allows them to shift or hide profits through tax havens and avoid paying taxes. 

Part of the solution to tax dodging is to require all companies to report on their operations in each country in which they operate. Doing so enables governments and communities in nations like Guatemala to find out where money is and hold companies accountable for paying their fair share. Help us shine the light into the darkness by calling the Australian government and the G20 to make country by country reporting a requirement.  

Learn more here 

What’s your story?

Watch the video below. Reflect on the differences between your experience of childhood and Isabel's. 

Spend some time praying for Isabel and the country of Guatemala. Pray that they may see God’s justice, love and comfort in their lives and restoring their nation.  

Perhaps let the Franciscan Benediction be a guide for your prayers as you consider those like Isabel who suffer the consequences of tax dodging:

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war so that we may reach out hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
Amen.