Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 reflections for Mayan Families in Guatemala

We know that in this tough economic time, the demand for vital nonprofit services is greater than ever, and it's people like you who keep Mayan Families going. And on behalf of all of the children, mothers and elderly that we work with, thank you!

Thank you for helping Mayan Families build vibrant and sustainable communities, advocate for health and education, celebrate indigenous cultures through our sustainable programs, and protect this amazing culture for future generations.

And thank you for all of the work you do in your daily lives, whether it's through your charitable work for Mayan Families, fund raising, assisting with shipments, collecting school supplies etc in your personal or professional lives, the orphans, children, families and elderly all benefit from your efforts.

2012 looks to be a challenging year. To continue our vital work of providing education to thousands, we need your help. Please consider making a donation to Mayan Families today in the amount of $10, $25, $50, $100 or more. Help us to continue to make amazing dreams come true, better educated and more confident students following their dreams, making informed decisions. Help empower Mayan Families to become even more effective! Donate here now for the end of the year tax benefits:

Our work relies on the generosity of supporters like you, so please consider making a donation today. Let’s make 2012 a year of compassion and respect for impoverished indigenous families.

Please also sign up for our e-mail newsletters here:
You'll learn about our work in Guatemala, how you can be a part of it and about opportunities to help spread the word about Mayan Families.

PS: Please forward this on to 8 people you know who have a giving heart.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family of Orphans get a bed for Christmas!

This young family of children is being brought up by the elderly grandparents.
The mother died in childbirth with the youngest and the family died approx. 18 months later from diabetes that was left untreated as the father did not have the financial resources.

The elderly grandparents have done as much as they can to help the children.They are in the Mayan Families Orphan Program which provides support for orphans so that they can remain in the care of extended family.
Mayan Families has provided them with school sponsorship and milk for the youngest when she was a baby. We have provided them with medical and dental treatment and they are fortunate that one of their sponsors has bought them a new bed so now they will have two beds to share between them!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A volunteer's blog about working with Mayan Families and life in Guatemala.

> I wrote a blog the other day about our recent volunteering at Mayan Families, and thought some folks on this list might be interested:
> I'm not sure if Yahoo! will strip that link out from my message, so in case they do, just go to my blog at:
> ...and go to the blog titled: "Christmas parties for 4,000 and tamales for the whole neighborhood"

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MARVIN and his family get a great gift in Guatemala with Mayan Families

Marvin and his family live high in the steep mountain of San Antonio.
They had running water but no where to wash the dishes, wash their
clothes, wash themselves.
Marvin's sponsor gave the whole family this wonderful gift for
Christmas. It is a pila...a 2 sided sink, usually made of cement but
this one is fiberglass because it was just too high a climb to be able
to get a cement one there.
We were originally going to build one there but then we found we could
get the fiberglass one for almost the same price as it would cost to
construct one in the yard.
This pila...will enable the family to be able to store water in the
middle tub. The family will then have a plastic bowl that they will
scoop the water out .
The mother used to have to wash clothes over a she will
have a sink to be able to wash the clothes...a place to put the dishes
to dry on one side after she has washed them.
A pila is a multi useful item for a Guatemalan house and one that
every house needs.  Marvin and his family are very, very grateful to
have received this Christmas gift.

Christmas spirit

This is a family that we visited this week.
As you can see their home is very humble and they are in desperate need of stove to be able to cook over and have many other needs.
But what struck us most was the Christmas spirit they showed with this very sweet little Christmas tree in their home.  There were no presents to put under the tree and not much food in the house but they had this little tree to be able to celebrate Christmas.
For those of us who were lucky enough to have all the comforts of a home, a refrigerator full of food, a tree laden with decorations and lots of presents underneath.......we should spare a moment to think about this family ( and so many like them )  and what it takes to still have the spirit of Christmas with so very little, at this time of year.

The San Jorge Pre-school Holiday Outing!

The teachers and the mothers of the children at the Mayan Families San Jorge preschool organized a holiday outing for the children.

Even though they live very close to the Butterfly and Nature reserve many of them have never been there and did not what a great treasure it is to the local communities.

They were able to enjoy the talk about ecology and preserving nature around the area of the lake, they loved walking the tracks of the nature reserve, seeing the monkeys, the waterfall, the butterfly reserve and best of all playing on the free kiddie  zip line and the other  swings and rope activities.

They finished the day with a bbq , a gift exchange and a wonderful time was had by all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cristobalina's postcards!

Hello all!!

I believe you remember Cristobalina, the 16 year old girl who was electrocuted a year ago and lost both of her arms.
She started painting with her mouth and we were astonished by her talent and ability! She gave us several of her paintings and we decided to try to make postcards of them. We will try to sell them and the profit will go to her medical treatment.
This is the first one we made and soon we will have more with new drawings!!!

If you are planning to come down to Panajachel, consider sending some postcards to your friends and help Cristobalina to get better. 
The postcards cost less than $2 and they are really pretty!

Diabetes ...a huge problem in Guatemala.

This is a story about just one woman.  We have many people who are suffering from diabetes. In response to the huge amount of people we see who are trying to live with this disease, we have started a Diabetes Club that meets once a month.    It is not enough but it is what we can do at the moment. The people come and have their blood tested, which is the only time they have it during the whole month. We have a doctor who volunteers to come and treat the members of the club and we always have a health professional who gives them a talk about the different issues of diabetes.  We have also had a pyschologist come along and give a talk because many people who are diagnosed with diabetes become very depressed thinking that this is a terminal disease.  Quite often it is in Guatemala because there is a lack of knowledge and a lack of money to be able to buy the meds needed to control the disease and also the money and knowledge needed about the dietary issues.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas party for the 54 children in the Mayan Families Orphan Program

The Hotel Porta de Lago in Panajachel gave a wonderful Christmas party for the 54 children in the Mayan Families Orphan Program.
The children and their caretakers, some were a grandparent, an older
sibling or a relative came along and had a fantastic day.

The hotel did all they could to make this a most memorable day for the children.

They had a special area decorated with a tree and lots of gifts. They
had an entertainer who played games with the children which was a lot of fun.
But the most exciting thing for the children was that they were
encouraged to go into the pool and swim!!!!

There was a rush to grab bathing suits that we had brought with us and children squished themselves into all sizes of bathing suits!
After swimming, there was a huge Winne the Pooh pinata ....and then the hotel Manager, Anna Maria Herbruger....gave out beautiful Christmas gifts for each child and a cake for each caretaker.

Then a lunch of hamburgers and french fries, drinks and a cake with
cream was served to the families.

This was an exciting day for these children to be able to enjoy
themselves and be kids without a care!
Thank you so much Hotel Porta del Lago.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday! December with Mayan Families in Guatemala

‎(This was from Dec-18-2011)
Hi, sorry there have been so few postings but we are working long hours here at this time.

Friday we celebrated Christmas with the families in El Barranco, Solola, Guatemala.

Connie Turvey who is a member of this group....( I am going to embarrass her here!!!)....Connie has been selling beaded jewelry from Guatemala and has managed to sell enough to be able to buy 61 Tamale baskets for the families in El Barranco!!!! The families were thrilled on Friday when we told them that each family would be getting a Tamale Basket.

Thank you Connie!!!!
The photos are posted on Picasa this morning.

We have a sign thanking Leila Treige for donating the money to pay for expenses of the Christmas party!

The children were all thrilled to be able to pick out their presents.

The kids just love those plastic bags full of all sorts of goodies! They were a big hit! Cars are the things that the boys want the most and girls want dolls....little dolls , big dolls...any kind ...just so that they have a doll. They also love the stuffed animals! All the toys that everyone sent were a big hit!!!!!

Yesterday, Saturday, Dec-17-2011 we did the big party here in Panajachel, Guatemala....we had families from all over come to the party.

We had over a 1,000 children!!!!!! The families laughed with the clown, were able to pick out their toys, get their photo with Santa and have a snack before they left. It was a long day but a good one....we started at and stopped giving out toys at 3.30pm!

Sunday Dec-18-2011 we are starting the job of packing the Tamale Baskets. We have just over a 1,000 baskets now. I am not sure of the exact number but will let you know short. But I don't think it is too many over a 1,000.

There is still time to get your order in for a basket for your sponsored family, an elderly person or a family in need!

Please remember that we welcome volunteers to come down during this time and is a lot of work, but a lot of fun!

Thank you all for making this such a jolly Christmas for so many !

a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Monday, December 19, 2011

700+ Christmas Tamale Food Baskets distributed by Mayan Families in Guatemala!

Well, it has been a long day. It is now 7.45pm and we are just closing up the office. Some of the staff started at this morning. The line was already forming outside our office for people who had come to get a Tamale basket.

We have given out over 700 baskets today to families who were so happy to receive this wonderful gift of food.

At this time of night, we still have about a 100 people gathered outside our front gate hoping that they will be able to receive a basket. Lots of women holding babies, little ones pressed tight against their mother's legs, children who are tired from standing for hours...crying to go home.

We love giving out the baskets of food for families but this is the hardest part, the people who are waiting and hoping to get a basket and we just do not have enough for them.

Thank you to everyone who has donated and made it possible for these families to be able to celebrate Christmas.

If you would like to give a basket of food, it is not too late, please send a donation to and go to our Holiday Basket link. It is just $35 for a big basket of food.

Families Receiving Tamale Baskets

Thank you all for donating for families to receive Tamale Baskets!  Families are filling the streets waiting to receive theirs, and it is a beautiful, joyful sight.

However, some families are coming around that have not had confirmation of receiving their donation.  These families are crowding our gate, hoping to receive word:
Donate now to give the feeling of relief and gift of a Tamale Basket for Christmas

Guatemala Food Baskets being distributed, Christmas Tamale Baskets Video

Hi everyone,
Here is a video link to watch today's distribution of Christmas Holiday Tamale Food Baskets at the Mayan Families rented office in Panajachel, Guatemala.
It is still not to late to donate!
Click here to donate now!

More Holiday Christmas Tamale Food Baskets being given out!

Today is the first day that we are giving out Tamale Baskets!
We have been up since 4.30am. getting ready.

The rope has been put outside the office to be able to keep the crowd in a line.

At there are already half a dozen people lined up and we don't open till

Several of our staff are at the office waiting for the chickens to be delivered. This year we are doing chicken rather than meat.

The road is being closed off to our office today, the transit police are going to stop traffic coming in or out unless they need to be there.

I hope that we don't upset the neighbors too much.
We have 500 baskets packed ready to be given out.

The group of sponsored students and their families from Chukmuk in Santiago are hiring a large public bus to be able to bring them all over. The boat is too expensive and won't fit enough people so they are making the four hour round trip by bus. 

We still have basket orders coming in and we will be happy to keep filling them. There will be a lot of people outside the gate, hoping that they will get a basket of food. If you know of anyone who is thinking about giving a basket, this is the time to do it.

I have to tell you how fantastic I think the staff and volunteers at Mayan Families are.  We started work yesterday morning at and were still there at 7.30p.m. was cold and windy but everyone was outside in the garden packing the baskets.  Everyone had sore backs and sore hands but kept on going.

We had two students from the international school come to help us yesterday, the secretary from the school and also a former director of the school came along, as well as one of our board of directors, Susan. There are going to be a lot of happy faces today!

Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity
Tel: 011-502-7-762-2490
Mobile: 011-502-4-511-0456

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The start of the Tamale Baskets!

                                                                                                           Yesterday we started unpacking the food for the 1,000 baskets that we have ordered so far.
These baskets will be given to families who otherwise will not  have food to celebrate Christmas this year.
Every year we have had the amount of baskets grow. We started the first year with approx. 200 baskets, the next year went to 500 and so on until last year we had 1,600.  Unfortunately, due to the poor economic climate ...this year the number of baskets we have had donated are down.  We hope that we will get to 1,600 again but the days are going by quickly.
If you would like to give a basket to a family in need....please go to this link.

We already have people lining up at our gate hoping that they may get a basket of food.

Each basket can feed a an extended family of at least 10 people.

The basket costs $35 US. and is such a wonderful gift to give a family here in Guatemala.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Post on facebook and elsewhere! Help Mayan Families here in Guatemala!

Hi everyone,
You can post this on your facebook page or an edited version of it to help us get food out to people this holiday season here in Guatemala!

Feeling the commercial pressure of the holidays? Relax. And remember this is about family and friends and giving (whether money, gifts or good spirit).

Some of you know that this year we began sponsoring 2 young kids in Guatemala through an organization called Mayan Families. It is teaching us all to be appreciative of our fortunes and how we can make things a little better for others, who have so little.

In 2005 Mayan Families began a program to distribute tamale food baskets to families as is their custom to celebrate Christmas. Each basket costs $35. Last year they distributed 1600 baskets to all kinds of families (including orphan siblings). This year, thus far, they have only raised enough to distribute 633.

When we wanted to send a little extra down to our sponsored family for Christmas, we asked what they wanted and their reply was simply "food". The basket IS food but it also a way of coming together, of celebrating.

Please join us in sending some smiles down to Guatemala this can also see the photos of the families accepting their baskets, getting their food later in December. Donate now at
Enter in the "Extra Notes" field a description (ie "Tamale basket for general family")...give 1 basket or give 5 or even give $10 for general distribution. It is easy and it will make the season a bit brighter without the lights, and all the new gadgets.


Glendi and Joel's wedding

It was a wondeful event last night.
Dwight and I were the Padrinos for the wedding.  Joel , knowing that I am a little time challenged , called me at 4.15pm. to tell me that I had to be at the Muni...where they were having the civil ceremony en punto!
( on the dot.)  
So we got there almost on the dot...5.15pm....we then waited till 5.35 before the wedding party arrived.
Joel arrived with  his family. He looked very handsome in his new suit...and more than a little nervous!
Then Glendy arrived in the Mayan Families car that had been hurriedly decorated with white balloons and streamers. Glendy was sitting in the front seat and it seemed like 20 of her family members were squished in the back seat.
Glendy looked very beautiful .  I will have the photos later this morning to post to picassa.
She was escorted by her uncle and her grandmother.
Her eldest brother, Gerber who has worked at a bakery for a long time, made several of the wedding cakes . He had been up since baking.
First they had the civil ceremony which was performed by the mayor of the town. He does a very good wedding ceremony. He talks about the rights and responsiblities of the wife and the husband. He talks about how the scoiety was /is very macho and how a husband should behave without being a machismo.  How he should put his family ahead of his friends etc.  He adds a lot of humor to his wedding ceremony and has the audience often laughing and the couple relaxing a little.
After that ceremony, we then walked next door to the Municipal Salon, which was festooned with white balloons and streamers.   Joel has a  very large family and they had all pitched in decorating.  Then began the Evangelical ceremony except that the pastor seemed to be missing and after waiting some time, fortunately, another one was found who could quickly fill in.   Even though he had little time to prepare, this pastor had a least 10 pages of notes and was able to preach for an hour....and then he performed the religious ceremony.  
After that Dwight and I made a very, very brief speech. The couple then stood, we wrapped the veil around Joel's shoulder, thus binding them together. Dwight pulled the string on the large paper mache bell and confetti poured over Joel and Glendy.
This was the time that the well wishers formed a long line waiting to give their gifts to the couple and give them their congratulations, hugs and kisses.
The last person to hug Glendy was her big brother, Gerber. It was a very emotional hug for them. They were both crying. Glendy would be leaving the home that they shared and moving in with her new family. Together they have been through the trauma of caring for their mother, losing her and raising their little brothers. 
Then lots of plates of delicious Pepian chicken was served.   Joel's mother and his aunts had been cooking for days.  yesterday morning, I had a basket of tamales delivered to the door.....then the family had a lunch for the closest family and least 50 people ...before the wedding.  Then the dinner that fed at least 200 people. Weddings are not small in have to invite all the family....and this includes a lot of extended family. Everyone brings their children it is a lot of people to feed.
Music played, everyone at dinner, then it was the time that the children look at all the balloons and try to find one to pull down, once one goes then everyone starts pulling at the decorations to get their balloon or keepsake to take home!
Lots of photos, cake and a very smiling , happy couple. 
I hope their journey together will be a good one.
Thank you for giving Glendy the support that she needed.  I wish  you all could have been there!

Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Christmas in Guatemala.

Christmas in Guatemala 101 - A book about the Christmas customs and traditions in Guatemala!

"Christmas in Guatemala 101" is a great book about the customs and traditions in Guatemala during the Christmas season! The author of this book, Benjamin Barnett, 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. Putting this code 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.

Christmas in Guatemala 101 is available in print, ebook (pdf), and Kindle formats, and has lots of fun activities and recipes as bonuses, as well. 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. Here's the link again:

Thanks for supporting Mayan Families

Amazing News! Cristobalina is Walking. Watch the Video!

Hi Everyone,

Here is a video of Cristobalina walking!

This is such amazing news. She has come so far and is determined to 
keep going.

Thank you to everyone who has helped her.
Without your help, she would have been wheelchair bound her whole life.

If you are a new member and would like to read Cristobalina's whole story please visit the following link.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A happy and sad week in Guatemala for Mayan Families

Well, this has been a wild week. Sad and happy.
Dilson's death was a hard, sad time for us all here.  Through the generosity of Dilson's sponsor, the funeral was paid for  and the family did not have the extra burden of going into more debt.
We took Cristobalina to the city again.....she is now walking and we have a video of this wonderful event on You tube I believe. I will get the link for it and post it later.
Another sad family of orphaned children joined our orphan program.   These are five children, a girl 14, a boy 12, a girl 10 , a girl 8 and a boy 4....whose father died 2 yrs ago. The mother started drinking heavily a year ago and is physically abusive.  She has taken to coming home drunk to their little wooden room and she throws the children out of the house.  They spent two nights sleeping in the cornfields and the oldest girl knew she had to do something.
She worked and got the money together to be able to pay the bus fares for herself and her four siblings to go to San Jorge...where she knew her father had relatives.   They traveled all day without eating, they took a bus, a pick up and then a truck...finally arriving in San Jorge at 10pm at night. They found their grandparents home, only to be met by cool reception....the grandparents said that they could come in, the unlces said that they were not welcome.   But the children have been there a week.  In an interesting twist ....the first wife of their father who had four children with him before he lleft her for the mother of these children...has shown great compassion for these children. She and her children, the eldest 23 ( and a single mother with a 2 yr old) decided that these children are their half siblings and they would help them. They now bring them to their home every day but they have a lack of space, the eldest daughter is already sleeping on the kitchen floor with her 2yr old because they have no the children go home to the grandparents home every night to sleep. They are sleeping on the floor on just a piece of plastic.
The first wife has said that she is willing to have these children .....she knows that the grandparents and uncles will not make it easy for them to be at the house.  One of the uncles has already put them to work, carrying heavy loads of firewood.
The first wife ( for lack of a better term) has a small room downstairs and her the room upstairs is ready to be finished. She has never been able to afford to complete the construction of the second floor ....but she said if she could have some wood planks or tin she could finish the room and the children could live there.
So we are going to look into this and see what we can do.
There has been much activity of unpacking toys and clothing....Christmas decorations going up.
The parties are all organized. I am nervous that we will not have enough toys but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Yesterday we had one of our students brought here by her mother. She was very ill and unable to stand up. The mother thought that she had a urinary tract infection.  We sent her to local clinic, they called us back very quickly and said that she had appendicitus and they were concerned that it might be perforated.  So we quickly called the ambulance and rushed her to the local hospital.  She was operated on very quickly after she arrived and is now doing well.
This afternoon, just as we were about to close a woman came from Santa Catarina . I was walking from one room to another when she asked me if I would help her baby.  I asked her where the baby was and she said that she had left it at home because the baby has pnuemonia and she didn't want to bring it out in the wind.  The baby is only 6 weeks old.
She had a prescription from the hospital for antibiotics.   We are very careful how we spend the little money that we have for medicine. The doctors office was closed ....we decided to send the driver with her back to Santa Catarina to make sure that first, there was a baby and second that it was, indeed sick.   ( People sometimes try to get meds to sell) .
Rodolfo and Juan Carlos the driver, drove the 15 mins out to the village, climbed up the steep hill to the woman's house. She lives in very bad conditions. The baby was indeed sick and in bed.   So it is now nearly 7p.m. but these two staff members  without any complaint turned around and came back to get the meds and take them out to the woman and her baby.
We lost our location in San Antonio for the pre-school....we have to move out and we have started doing that process. We have found somewhere else , it is not as good but it does have bathrooms closer and that makes a huge difference for little children.
Getting the Christmas parties funded was a really unexpected delight.....we had the first party today in Panajachel.
The kids loved it.
The Tamale baskets are coming in very slowly ....we hope that there will be more....we are keeping our fingers crossed tightly....we have 596 right now.
We are all working tomorrow ....getting all the toys organized for the Christmas parties and all the gifts out to the students.....
and then there is the big excitement of the Joel and Glendi's wedding tomorrow at 5p.m!   
The clothes are bought, the suit has been picked up , the shoes purchased, the family is cooking frantically at Joel's house. It is a hive of activity.
We had cake and coffee for them yesterday afternoon after work. All the married people gave them good advice and Susie who is divorced, gave them options in case the marriage does not work!
We are all looking forward to the wedding and will get the photos to you asap.
Thank you for all you do to make everything possible!
Wishing you all a Happy Week end.
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Holiday Christmas Tamale Food Baskets needed!

We now have 523 tamale baskets to distribute to the families here.
We are hoping that there will be lots more coming in but it certainly is a lot slower than last year.
If you would like to give a Tamale basket to your student, to an orphan or to a family in need please know that it will be greatly appreciated.
I had a tuk tuk driver ask me when we would be distributing the baskets.  I told him the date and I was just about to tell him that we would not have any extra when he surprised me by saying "thats good...there will be lots of work for us".... and I realized that the Tamale baskets give a lot more than a much needed basket of food for the family, it provides income to the people that we buy the fruit, the vegs. and all the goods, it gives work to the tuk tuk drivers who give rides to the people who are lucky enough to receive a basket.....they are heavy to carry and people usually have to take a tuk tuk with them. They even give income to the people who set up stalls outside the house....we always have an ice cream vendor come, ringing his bell, we have two sponsored mothers who always bring little stalls of food to sell and then the local store always does a good business when the people in the line go past their door.
Please spread the word about the tamale baskets ....they are really needed by so many families.
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity


This is still happening!
In September we gave out food to many families who were fortunate enough to receive food from their sponsors.
The amount of food the families receive depend on the amount sent.
We have no fixed amount.  We figure that any amount, no matter how small is a huge help for a family.
We have some families that have to divide one egg between four if a family like that receives $5 US worth of eggs they are so happy because there is enough eggs for them all to have an egg each!
If you would like to send food to a family, we have a long list of families who are in desperate need of help. or email