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.

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