Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts from Volunteer Stephanies Mother.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  Steph here, but just for a paragraph, to introduce a guest post by my mom.  The following are her thoughts on the upcoming holidays, in light of her experience reading this blog, as well as some of her ideas for what she (or whoever she stole the phrase from) calls ‘armchair volunteering’.  As you’ll see, her perspective is very different from mine/ours–it was never exactly the same, and ours has shifted drastically over the past few months as mudslides and malnutrition and medical emergencies have worked their way into our version of normal.  Some of what she has to say sounds a little strange to us, but I’m guessing that a good bit of what we’ve had to say has sounded strange to you.  So here’s a little stateside perspective on MicroMundo, courtesy of Mom:

The author, in case you want to put a face to the writing.
There is so much STUFF in my house.  And there’s about to be a whole bunch more.  It’s the holiday season and “gift-a-palooza”, a term my daughter has given to the over-buying my family has indulged in for decades, is just around the corner.  The thought of it is making me uncomfortable, more so this year than ever. This feeling started a couple of years ago, but this year, after months of following the MicroMundo (and recently the Mayan Families) blog, I’m really having trouble reconciling the unfathomable gap between the have’s (us) and the have-not’s.  Who among us has food or basic clothing on our want list (designer jeans and cashmere sweaters do not count as basic clothing)?  More importantly, how many of us have anything on our list that is actually a need?  We all work hard and deserve nice things, but where’s the line between ‘nice things’ and extravagance? And at what point does extravagance become, well, wrong?
I’ve given a lot of thought to this lately.  I am absolutely no Mother Theresa. In fact, I’m not a Jess, Ronnie or Stephanie – or even close.  Not only am I not willing to give up hot showers and air-conditioning, I’m not even willing to forego a closet full of clothes, purses that match my shoes, jewelry that matches my outfits, or a bottle of wine with dinner. I like my life and I’m not looking to change it in any substantial way. But do I need more?
Well, I really do need a new bathrobe (my husband was so sick of my warm but ratty old bathrobe that he threw it away after last winter).  Does it need to be the $100+ designer robe that he’ll probably buy?  No.  And I really could use a new purse and he knows how much I love Coach, so that’s what he’ll probably do.  And, BAM!, there’s $500.
Boys perform a traditional dance in the best shoes they've got.
No wonder I feel this way.  Thanks to the girls, I’m now painfully aware of what that $500 could do (or make it $400 after you subtract $50 for a robe and $50 for a purse): Sponsor 2 children’s elementary education for a year, with enough left over for a Christmas tamale basket. Or provide 12 of those baskets, which will feed families of 10 (not standing rib roasts or turkeys, but rice and beans and tamales). That money could secure a family’s housing for 6 or 7 months, buy nearly four years worth of pain medicine for someone in need, or 80 pairs of simple shoes for those that have none (not the wrong size heel or color, but none).
What to do? I’m not going to deny myself or those who enjoy buying gifts for me completely and ask them to make a donation instead.  I’m just not that good and I know that would make some of them uncomfortable.  What I am going to do instead is ask my family and friends to avoid extravagant or excessive spending on me and to be conscious of such spending in general.  I’m going to ask them to consider making a donation instead of bringing a hostess gift to the countless parties they’ll attend this season (make it in the hostess’ name), and encourage their guests to do the same.  I’ll ask them to consider putting just a little less in each stocking and instead buy a food basket so a family can enjoy a traditional Christmas meal. I’ll ask them – I’m asking them – to take a look around at what they have and ask themselves just how much more they really need?
We’re not going to save the world, but we can certainly change lives. And less STUFF in my house will be a reminder that some of the lives changed were our own.

Monday, November 29, 2010

3 Orphans need help to stay together in Guatemala.

Edy, Marvin and Angelica

16-year-old Marvin, 14-year-old Edy, and 12-year-old Angelica Acetun Tuy have been sponsored through Mayan Families since their father died several years ago--Marvin will start carerra (like high school, but it prepares students for a specific trade) next year, and Edy will begin his second year in basico (Jr. High), while Angelica will be in 5th grade. They are all looking forward to continuing their education.  Marvin would like to study accounting, and Edy thinks he wants to do the same, while Angelica says shyly that she needs a little more time to decide.

Unfortunately, their mother passed away just over 2 weeks ago, and the family is faced with a serious problem: without an adult to take charge of the household, social workers may force the Acetun Tuy children to split up, and send Edy and Angelica to live in orphanages.  Luckily, the children are not completely alone: Sipriana Tun, their close neighbor and longtime family friend, whom they call “Tia” (Aunt), hopes that she can keep the family together.   Sipriana has offered to take charge of the children, and thereby ensure that they can stay together in the house their parents left them.  But she and her husband—who already have 8 children of their own—can’t take on this extra expense without some support. 

The three kids with their neighbor, Sipriana
Edy and Marvin have been working for their uncle, a mechanic, since their mother died, but they aren’t experienced, and there isn’t enough work for both brothers to work every day, so combined they earn only about Q100 per week ($12.50).  Marvin, who brings in 80% of this small salary by working long days, isn’t sure if his uncle will let him work around his school schedule next year or not, so it is possible that the kids will be surviving on even less once the academic year begins in January. 

Sipriana, Marvin, Edy and Angelica want to stay together, but to stay afloat, they will need a few different kinds of help:

1)    The most basic need, and the most important, is food.  They’ll need a monthly food sponsorship to ensure they don’t go hungry.  To set up a monthly food sponsorship, go to Donate Monthly.  Enter FA68 under "Family Name," and the amount of your donation in the $ box, then click "Submit Form"--after you hit submit, you will have a chance to specify that the donation is for food.

2)    The small 3-room house the children live in has electricity and water, which cost a total of Q175-Q225 ($22-28) per month.  Some help towards paying these bills would go a long way in alleviating the pressure on Marvin and keeping the siblings together.  To set up a sponsorship to help with these bills, go to Donate Monthly.  Enter FA68 under "Family Name," and the amount of your donation in the $ box, then click "Submit Form"--after you hit submit, you will have a chance to specify that the donation is for bills.

3)    The family doesn’t have stove or a water filter, and Angelina doesn’t have a decent bed.  One time donations for any of these items would make their daily lives a little safer and easier.  To donate a bed ($170), water filter ($50), or stove ($160), go to Donate NowEnter the amount of your donation in the box marked "other," and specify that it is for FA68 in the box marked family name.  In "Extra Notes," you can specify what your donation is for--stove, filter, bed, etc.

4)  Sipriana has put several of her older children through school, and she's just as determined to see Marvin, Edy, and Angelica finish too.  But the extra expense of helping her neighbor's children will strain her own finances.  She has four children still in school, but she believes that she can continue to pay for the three oldest (whose tuitions are the highest tuitions), if we can find a sponsor for 10 year old Aura Lorena, who will be in 4th grade next year.  Sponsoring Aura for 4th grade would cost $15/month, or $180.  To sponsor Aura, go to Donate Monthly, and enter "sponsorship student #1584" under "Other Programs".  Enter the monthly amount as $15.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Needing food for Christmas in Guatemala.

 Felipa Ramos lives in San Jorge la Laguna. She is 75yrs old.  Five years ago her husband died and she now lives alone.   One day a week she goes to the fields to pick onions or clean potatoes.   She earns $3 US for the day.  She works from 7.am and finishes at 6 p.m.     If the fields are far from where she lives, she cannot afford the bus fare so she has to leave a few hours earlier so she can walk there.
When she comes back from her work, she is very tired.  She usually cannot move very much the next day from pains and aches. She is only able to do this work once a week because it takes so out of her.
She takes her food with her but it is only chile with a few tortillas.   When she earns a little money she can buy a few herbs and vegetables.
Her children have large families and cannot afford to support her.
Felipa is photographed here with a bag of food that Mayan Families gave her.  She told us she is hoping for a Tamale basket this year so that she can have tamales for the holidays.

  These are just a very few of the people who are hoping that they will receive a Tamale basket for Christmas.  
These people are not sponsored and we are hoping that someone will want to send a Tamale basket to them.
If you would like to give a Tamale basket to one of these elderly women in honor of someone special, we will be happy to send them an email letting them know of the gift that has been made in their honor.  To donate a Tamale Basket ...please go to this link http://www.mayanfamilies.org/DonateNow , make a payment of $35 for community aid and put the name of the person in the paypal note.  Please send us an email if you would like to give a basket in honor /or memory of someone special.

 Cecilia Bocel is 83yrs old .   She lives in San Jorge La Laguna. She went blind at least 4 years ago.  Cecilia lives with a grand-daughter. The grand daughter and her husband have four children. They all live in one very tiny room made of mud brick.
Cecilia has a bed made of planks but does not have a mattress.  The bed is made of cement blocks and wooden planks....her grand daughter's son made the bed for her.
The grand daughter makes beaded jewelry and works in the fields when she can get work. She earns $1 US per day for the beaded jewelry and $3 US per day if she gets work in the fields.  She usually can only get work in the fields one day a week.  One day a week she goes washing clothes by hand in private houses. She does this work to be able to maintain her grandmother. She does not like to ask her husband to help her pay the costs for her grandmother as the husband barely earns enough to feed the children. Cecilia went blind from cataracts that could have been treated but the family could not afford to seek medical attention.
Cecilia says that her stomach and her head hurt a lot but they have no money for her to go to the doctor.
Cecilia would love to have a Tamale Basket for Christmas to be able to share with her family.  Cecilia is an adoptive mother. She and her husband did not have children. They were delighted to adopt their daughter, Antonia when she was 3yrs old. Antonia's mother had passed away.   It is Antonia's daughter that Cecilia now lives with.

Juana's husband died approx. 10yrs ago.  He died of cholera. The family could not afford medical attention for him.    3yrs ago Juana had a lot of pain in her eye and felt like her eye was swelling.  She put her hand up to her eye and she felt that her eye  actually fell out into her hand.  She was rushed to the hospital and they removed the rest of her eye.  She was not able to receive medical attention before she lost her eye.
Juana lives with her married daughter and three children. The family is very poor.
Juana is approximately 78 yrs old. She goes out collecting firewood in the mountains and sells the firewood on the side of the road. She earns approx. $2-3 US per day.  She can only do this work 2-3 days a week because it is so tiring for her.

Maria Felipe is approx. 85yrs old. She lives alone. She makes woven cotton wristbands and earns $3 US per week .    She cannot go out to work any longer as her feet hurt too much. Her main diet is tortillas with salt.  She collects herbs in the mountains to help her diet.  She has rarely eaten a small piece of chicken or meat in her life.
She used to eat tomatoes with her tortillas but the price has gone up too much for her to buy them.

She has  bed that is made of wooden planks and a straw mat. She does not have a mattress.

Maria Chipin is 69yrs old approx.  She lives with her husband who is approx. the same age.  They have one room that they share with 8 other family members.   She has a problem with her liver, she has gone back and forth to the hospital for treatment but is unable to buy the medications.  She is often bedridden and unable to move around.
She lives with her daughter who is very poor.
They have 7 children.
The family cannot afford medical treatment for Maria or the father.
Her son and his family have also come to live with the family. He lost his home in the mudslides this past year.
When she came to collect this bag of food, she was barely able to walk.  Maria would love a basket of food to share with her family.

Marcela Samines lives alone.  Her children have large families which they barely can feed, they help her as much as they can but it is not enough to be able to feed her.
The day this photo was taken her face was very swollen with a tooth ache.  She did not have money to be able to get medical/dental treatment for it.  She has been like this for two weeks.  We have arranged antibiotics for her and pain killers.
Marcela is approx. 88 yrs old.   She still goes to the fields to pick onions and potatoes.....she works two days a week and earns $3 US per day. This is the only amount of money that she has to buy food.
She has a bed made  of wooden planks with a straw mat.  Marcela said that she would love to have a Tamale basket so that she could make tamales this year.

Happy Thanksgiving from Guatemala.

Wishing you all a very, very Happy Thanksgiving! Hope it is a day full of love, laughter, family, good friends and good food!

We are so thankful for all that you have done for the people in Guatemala.

 For all the food you have given to feed the hungry,  for all the people who have been able to receive medical treatment, for the families that now have a warm house to live in, a bed to sleep on, a safe stove to cook on and for the children who, thanks to you are able to receive an education.

Thank you for making small miracles happen every day!
best wishes,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beautiful gifts that will give twice!

In an effort to support a "philanthropic habit" I have developed, I recently became a consultant for Compelling Creations jewelry. My very first order of business is to raise some money for Mayan Families to help bring the spirit of Christmas to as many families as possible.

Therefore, 100% of my commission will be sent to Mayan Families on ALL orders placed between now and Saturday, November 27th. The orders do not have to come from members of MFC so feel free to share this email with as many people as you want.

Be sure to check out the "Fe Familia Amigos" pendant found in the All That Matters Collection. It's beautiful!

Here's the link to my web-page: www.compelling-creations.com/kellyholzworth

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pregnant Mom Needs Surgery

Yolanda de la Cruz Tubac and her husband, Moises, lost their home and all their possessions to a mudslide earlier this year.  Tropical storm Agatha destroyed their crops, and left Moises, who had been a farmer, without a livelihood.  They and their three small children (aged 9, 5, and almost 2) had to crowd into a rented home with three other families.

As if this weren’t enough misfortune for one year, Yolanda, who is pregnant and almost ready to deliver, found out that she has an umbilical hernia.  She will need an operation to fix the condition, which the doctors have tentatively scheduled for next week.  The private clinic here in Panajachel has agreed to perform the surgery at the much-reduced price of 5760Q ($720), and instructed her to stay close by in case there is an emergency between now and then.  Unfortunately, Yolanda and her family live several hours away in Chimaltenango, so Yolanda and her children have been staying here in Pana with her mother, who is a single mother and in poor health, and therefore unable to support Yolanda and her family. 

Moises, since he has been unable to farm, has been doing his best to support his family by working as a day laborer, which means that his pay is very unsteady.  At most, he earns about 210Q (~$26) per week—not enough to support his wife and three children, much less pay for this medical emergency.

Please help us get Yolanda and her baby the surgery they need.  We need $605 more to get Yolanda her operation, and any amount brings us that much closer to our goal—Mayan Families and the de la Cruz Tubac family welcome and appreciate donations of any size.  To donate to Yolanda's medical costs, click here, scroll down to the Family Aid box, enter the amount of your donation, and enter FA44 in the box marked "Family Name."  Thank you!

Clothe and food donations being received.

These are just a very few of the children and families who have been fortunate enough to receive food and clothing donations......these donations make such a difference in the quality of life for the families who receive them. Thank you for your kindness....we really appreciate it.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A book about the customs and traditions in Guatemala!

A great book about the customs and traditions in Guatemala !The author of this book has offered a percentage of sales to Mayan Families  If you want to buy this book and allocate the percentage to Mayan Families....  It is easy ...If you look at the bottom of the sales page, you'll see that there's a spot for a coupon code under the buy/paypal button.


.then the way to raise funds for Mayan Families is to  enter "mayanfamilies" (without the quotes) into the coupon box.  That doesn't give  a discount, ( even though it says discount ) it just tells the author  that the purchase is to benefit Mayan Families.  It would helpful if you would also write a note to that effect in the paypal "note to seller" feature when you check it.

This is  a great gift for families and has lots of good information in it.
If you  like you can also send us an email so that we can keep a record of  how many purchases are made for Mayan Families.
Hope  you enjoy it!

Volunteer Ronnie talks about the Elderly Care Program.

Hi Everyone,

Ronnie has been volunteering at Mayan Families for several weeks and has been involved daily with the Elderly Care Program.
She has been doing a fantastic job getting help for the Elderly and giving them the attention that they desperately need.

You can read about her interesting experiences with and impressions of the Elderly Care Program at the link below.


Thank you Ronnie for all you have done for so many of the Elderly.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mayan Families Support Store is now open!

Hi everyone,

The Mayan Families Support Store, http://www.shopguatemala.org/ is open!

Just in time for Christmas and the winter holidays. Better late than never. All proceeds from sales, after expenses, will go to Mayan Families General Fund, "Where most needed".

I am proud to announce that our latest fund raising effort is ready to go. This beautiful web site was done for us Pro Bono by a company called Chicago Digital. Thank you to everyone and please check us out at www.ShopGuatemala.org our new, seperate, fund raising site.

Best Wishes,

Dwight Poage


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Fransisca and Tereso from our Elderly Care Program

Tereso with his new bed
Fransisca Chiquirin and Tereso Cojon from our Elderly Care Program both just received new bed donations! The donations came at a great time--Both Fransisca and Tereso recently underwent medical hardship and were suffering a lot without proper bedding. (These individuals still have some urgent needs; For how you can help, please see the last paragraph in this post.)
This was Fransisca's sleeping space, behind the
door. She slept on top of an old blanket on
the floor.

Francisca is an affectionate 91-year-old woman with a wide, warm smile.  She can’t hear, so she communicates with her daughter-in-law Ventura, who is her primary caretaker, through sign language. Fransisca’s son Oseas, Ventura, three of their five children, two of their grandchildren, and Fransisca (for eight people total) share a small, damp room that holds only two beds and a tiny window. 

Two weeks ago, Fransisca broke her leg and was in very bad condition. We rushed her to a hospital and then a private clinic, where she got treated. When we brought her home, we discovered that Fransisca slept on the floor; staff had previously been under impression that Fransisca shared a bed with some of the 8 family members in the cramped room. The conditions were not just uncomfortable; they were dangerous for a woman of Fransisca's age and state. 
Fransisca and Ventura, her daughter-in-law and primary caretaker, on the
ride to San Gorje. The paramedics escorted us on a private boat. 
Fransisca on her new bed-- Comfy!
We posted her information on the Elderly Care Blog, and the response was so fast that we were able to get her a new bed and mattress the very next day! It makes a world of difference for her--She can finally sleep soundly and heal properly. The expression on her face when she slept truly used to be one of agony--Now it is one of peace.

Receiving a warm lunch from
Mayan Families
Tereso is 74 years old and has four grown children and 19 grandchildren.  He lives with a number of them, and though his children help him as much as they can, they are all struggling to feed their own families, so their support is limited to hosting him and sometimes bringing him a little bit to eat.

Four years ago Tereso had a stroke that left him without much use of his left arm and knee and suffering from “bad nerves,” making it very difficult for him to work and provide for himself. He has since then been suffering from convulsions, dizzy spells, and intense headaches.  His inability to function normally as a result of these symptoms has also taken a significant emotional toll on Tereso. 

Tereso with his new bed

Tereso had a low bed with a very old, uncomfortable spring mattress, and it was difficult as well as dangerous for him to get in and out of it because Tereso has bad knees and is prone to falling. When the family became afraid for Tereso's safety, they came to us and asked us if we had beds available. We put up a post about Tereso and again got a fast response from our supporters. Tereso was thrilled to receive his new bed and is so grateful. 

Great improvements have been made in both Fransisca and Tereso's lives, but both of them still need monthly sponsorship to help pay for their medical expenses. Without his medicine, Tereso suffers from convulsions, dizzy spells, severe headaches, and falls. Fransisca's family needs help paying for her pain medicine (she is temporarily taking strong painkillers-- $12 for a 10 day supply), incaparina (a fortified starch food, and one of the only things Fransisca can stomach--$16 a month), and Ensure ($12/can)--a nutritional supplement that has made an incredible difference in Fransisca's recovery. Unfortunately, their families usually cannot scrape together enough to buy it all, and so Tereso and Fransisca just go without their pain medicine. It is very difficult to see them on those days. Please help us to make sure that Tereso and Fransisca get the medicine and food that they need. To sponsor either of them, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Fransisca/Tereso" in the Other Program section. To make a one-time donation, click here and enter "Elderly Care, Fransisca/Tereso" in the Other section. Thank you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Food for the children at the San Antonio Pre-school, Guatemala

We were lucky enough to get boxes of food ....Kids against Hunger.....and the first place we gave this food to was to the children at the San Antonio Pre-school in San Antonio Palopo, Guatemala.

We have a lot of people to spread this food around ....so each child got a bag to take home with them.
The kids were so happy to get food to take home.
Last week when staff member, Ely , visited , she noted that one of the little girls was putting tortillas down her shirt to take home......Ely told her she could eat as many tortillas as she wanted and still have some to take home. She was a very happy child.

Thank you so much for this wonderful gift of food.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ibate family in Guatemala

There are four adults and 15 children living in this one tiny cramped room.

The women are all widows or single mothers.....they are barely able to survive.
This mother was so excited yesterday when we visited their home and brought them some much needed food.
Thank you to everyone who has been able to send donations for food, it is so desperately needed and so greatly appreciated!
Posted by Picasa

Update on Elyda in Guatemala

 UPDATE...Sunday morning. Sadly, Elyda passed away this morning.  Thank you everyone for your kind words, healing thoughts, prayers and good wishes.  Elyda was at least no longer in pain for the past few days and had been receiving very good medical care.

Hi everyone,
Please keep sending healing thoughts, prayers to Elyda.....she is right now having another operation.   They have had to do something to her intestines....I am not sure of all the details yet.   But the bill is now $4,000 US.  PROJECT GIFT, a wonderful medical organization run by Lyle and Andree Waldeman have offered to help with the costs.  Some of  you will have met Lyle and Andree here in Panajachel. Lyle is a doctor and spends several months a year here giving free medical clinics in areas that people do not have access to medical treatment. His wife, Andree organizes all the clinics and makes sure that everything goes well.
Lets hope that all goes well for Elyda tonight and that she will continue to improve.
I am so grateful to the doctors who are operating on her, they have given her incredible care.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fransisca ...elderly woman in Guatemala.

please take a moment to read about Fransisca....she is such a great spirit and she is in  a very difficult situation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Send a Christmas Gift for a Child

Christmas is always a difficult time for families living in poverty.  If you sponsor a 
student and you’d like to send him or her a gift, or if you’d just like to brighten a child’s 
Christmas this year, Mayan Families has provided a list below of toys that can be easily 
purchased here in Panajachel.  It is far easier and more cost effective to buy a present 
here than to ship one from the States, and it’s a good way to support the Guatemalan 
economy.  If you’d like to buy one of these gifts, please go to 
www.mayanfamilies.org/DonateNow and enter the dollar value of your gift under 
“Other”, and the toy’s number (i.e. T#01 for the stuffed animal) under “Description.”  
The kids will be thrilled to have a present—thank you! 

T#12 World Cup 2010 $8

Toys aren't the only options for Christmas presents: click here for a list of other practical gifts.  Scroll to the bottom of the page for a priced list of household items, clothing, and food.

Blog for a cause!


Monday, November 8, 2010

URGENT--Malpractive victim takes a turn for the worse

 NEW UPDATE 11/10  
Elyda, the 30yr old mother who suffered terrible problems after a botched surgery and was in a critical condition, last night had a four hour operation.
It was unsure whether she would survive the surgery but she did.  The medical team have been providing her with wonderful care. They are disgusted with the original medical treatment she received which has left her in this state.

Elyda is still not out of the woods, she is in a critical conditon.  But the amazing thing is that she is still alive and her kidneys are working. She has been urinating and she is conscious.  Her husband and sister have been by her side day and night.
We are told now that her most serious threat will be respiratory problems.  Please keep Elyda in your thoughts and prayers.....she has suffered so much....and none of it was necessary. 
I want to thank the wonderful team of volunteers we have here, Jessica and Stephanie who have been helping Elyda and her family.  

**NEW UPDATE...11/9 .....Elida has been taken to a private clinic in Panajachel
yesterday and is in critical condition.  The doctor wanted to send her to Intensive care in a hospital in the city but the traveling conditions were so rough that it was feared she would not survive the trip.  This afternoon her situation worsened and she had fecal matter coming out of her wound.  The doctor felt that she would die and that there would be a very slim chance for her if he operated and tried to close up the wounds in her intestine and clean out the infection.   Elida's husband, who has been by her bedside constantly, agreed that he would like his wife to have this chance.  Stephanie and Jessica organized blood donors this evening and Elida is being operated on tonight.   Please keep Elida in your thoughts and prayers. We are hoping for a miracle for Elida.

UPDATE** Elida (read original post below) was sent home from the hospital last week because she could no longer pay to stay.  She has been at home in bed, with three tubes draining wastes out of her abdomen, trying to recover from the botched surgery that took the life of her unborn child and left her organs leaking bile.  Even after one surgery to try to repair the damage, she will need at least one more operation, as well as follow up care.  Her husband, Marco, has been by her side the whole time, but this morning he came to Mayan Families with some bad news: Elida has taken a turn for the worse--she has a severe infection that has most likely spread to her intestines, and she needs to get to a doctor right away.  Unfortunately, the last several weeks have completely wiped out Marco's savings (and more--he has taken on nearly Q40,000 in debt to pay for her care), and he can't afford to get her back to the hospital.

Elida and her family have already lost too much because of someone else's mistake.  Please help them put this nightmare behind them.  ANY donation would help us get this young wife and mother the care that she desperately needs.  To donate, click here. Scroll down to the box that says “Family Aid,” enter in the amount, and write “FA 45" in the Family Name box.  Thank you!

**Original Post**

Elida Esther Lopez Mendez, age 30, lives in Panajachel with her husband, Marco (age 34) and one son, Josias, age 7. She and her husband both had steady work, he as a painter and she as a housecleaner and domestic assistant. Between then they earned Q450 a week, enough to support Josias in school and live comfortably. The family decided to have another child.

Elida is confined to her bed as she tries to recover from
the effects of doctor negligence.
But when Elida was 18 weeks pregnant, doctors made a few shocking discoveries: She had anemia, Hepatitis, and a stone in her pancreas. The doctor provided them with treatment to handle the first two, and scheduled a surgery at a local hospital to remove the stone. But during the operation the surgeon was negligent, and instead of making one cut to remove the stone, ended up making three, one of which went so deep that bile began spilling out. After the botched surgery, Elida feared for the life of her unborn child, and she asked the doctor if the child had been hurt. The doctor assured her the baby was fine, and sent her home.

But instead of improving, her condition worsened. She traveled to Sololá to visit the hospital, but was told they couldn’t help her. That hospital sent her to doctors in Guatemala City, who also told her that they could not help her, but sent her to a third hospital in Chimaltenango. There she finally began to receive treatment, but she also received devastating news: the baby had in fact not survived the first operation, and had been dead within Elida for days. The negligence on the part of the doctor in making two unnecessary and deep cuts resulted in the baby’s death.

Elida has been in the hospital since October 24th, but is in serious condition. She has accrued large debts to pay for her medical care, and neither she nor her husband have been able to work during this time. While there is no way for Elida to return to work right now, her husband has been told that if he is not back to work within the week, he will be fired. Though he wants to stay by his wife’s side, he will need to return to work soon, especially given their new debts. Between the initial surgery that caused the damage and the follow-up treatment that she is still receiving to repair it, Elida and her family owe medical bills of Q37,120, or about $4,640.  

The original hospital refuses to take responsibility for any wrongdoing, and the Aju-Lopez family has no way to cover the costs accrued by the doctor’s negligence. Any contribution to help pay these medical bills would go a long way in helping Elida and her family return their lives to normalcy. To donate to this family, click here. Scroll down to the box that says “Family Aid,” enter in the amount you wish to donate, and write “FA 45" in the Family Name box. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pregnant Woman and Her Mother--Medical Emergency


Yolanda de la Cruz Tubac and her husband, Moises, lost their home and all their possessions to a mudslide earlier this year.  Tropical storm Agatha destroyed their crops, and left Moises, a farmer, without a livelihood.  They and their three small children (aged 9, 5, and almost 2) had to crowd into a rented home with three other families. 

As if this weren’t enough misfortune for one year, Yolanda, who is 8 months pregnant, just found out that she has a hernia on her umbilical cord.  Though this condition requires an operation, it is too dangerous to do it at this point in the pregnancy—having the operation now could kill her or the baby.  Doctors have told her that she must wait 3 weeks on complete bed rest before having the surgery. 

Moises, since he has been unable to farm, has been doing his best to support his family by working as a day laborer, which means that his pay is very unsteady.  At most, he earns about 210Q (~$26) per week—not enough to support his wife and three children, much less pay for this emergency.  Doctors here in Panajachel have agreed to perform the surgery at the much-reduced price of 5760Q ($720), but even with this discount Yolanda and Moises don’t have the funds to pay for the operation.

Yolanda and her family live several hours away in Chimaltenango, but the doctor in Panajachel has instructed her to stay close by in case there is an emergency. Yolanda will have to stay here in Pana with her mother while she waits in bed.  Unfortunately, Yolanda’s mother, Rosa, is in the midst of her own medical crisis.  Rosa has been working hard to support Yolanda’s younger siblings since her husband died three years ago, but this week she fell ill with intense stomach pains.  She went to the Centro de Salud (Pana’s free public clinic), but the doctor barely examined her.  Instead, he gave her some cheap pain medicine and sent her on her way. 

Not surprisingly, Rosa’s condition got worse, but the Centro de Salud refuses to take her case seriously.  She would like to go to a private clinic to have a real examination, but she cannot afford the cost.  Her pains are intensifying, and she still does not know the cause, let alone how much an effective treatment would be.

Please help us get Yolanda and her baby their lifesaving surgery, bring Rosa to a doctor she can count on, and help the family keep food on the table during this crisis.  A donation of any amount will bring us closer to achieving those goals.  To support this family, click here, scroll down to the Family Aid box, write the amount of your donation.  To donate towards Rosa's care enter FA56 under Family Name; to donate towards Yolanda's, enter FA44.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

19 People in Need of a Home

The Ibate family is made up of three-generations; Grandmother and Grandfather and their children, including their three grown daughters, Juana, Isabel, and Candelaria, and their kids.  This extended family, which totals 19 people, lives together in a one room shack. The walls and roof are made primarily of corrugated metal, although parts of the roof consist of only bed sheet and thin plastic. The floor is simply dirt, and during the rainy season, the house is constantly flooded. They currently don’t have a bathroom – they must use the river instead.

The Ibate family chose to live together because all three daughters have been either widowed or abandoned.  Juana’s husband died six years ago, and Isabel’s was an alcoholic who died a year and a half ago. Candelaria’s husband left her for another woman and refuses to send money to help support his children. 

Juana's husband died
6 years ago
As scarce as work is in Pana, it’s almost impossible to find in the other towns on the lake; this small amount of opportunity makes land in Pana expensive. The family currently pays Q400 (~$50) per month to rent their small piece of land. And as if the situation wasn’t hard enough, the landlord has decided to build a garage for his mini-bus on the land that they currently rent. He’s given them until the end of the month to find a new piece of land and build a new house, and then he is kicking them out.

None of the adults in the house can read, write, or speak Spanish, so they are limited to low-wage types of work. The two oldest grandsons work in the market carrying heavy parcels for customers – on a good day they earn Q5 (~$0.60), but often come home empty handed. Two of the sisters work cleaning in the market and washing clothes, and earn about Q10 (~$1.25) a day. After rent, there is little money left over for food. Most days, the family eats only beans, and sometimes only tortilla and salt. Once in a while there is enough for some eggs.

13-year-old Enrique would like to stay in
school this year
Fortunately, most of the younger children have scholarships, which allow them to stay in school. Some, however, do not, including a 13-year Enrique, who had to miss a year of school in order to work this past year. But Enrique really wants to study – when we asked him what school he would like to attend, his eyes grew wide, and he answered “Cualquier que dicen ustedes! [Whatever school you say!]”

With the landlord kicking them out, the Ibate family is in dire need  of a new housing situation, but without assistance, they will have nowhere to go. Mayan Families is looking for ways to help. We have found a piece of land that already includes a house, but it is not cheap: the cost is Q134,400, or about $16,800.

We are raising funds to help the family, but we know that it might not be possible to raise enough to buy the house.  Therefore, we are asking for general donations for this family. In the event that we can’t raise the full amount, but raise a portion, those funds will be directed to finding the best housing option available, either building, buying or renting a place for them to stay.

To make your general donation to helping this family, please click here, scroll down to the "Family Aid" box, enter in your donation amount, then enter FA54 in the Family Name box.

If you are interested in sponsoring Enrique for the upcoming school year, please click here to set up a monthly donation. Enter 1536 in the Student ID box, and select “Elementary”.  

Two of the youngest Ibate girls.