Monday, May 30, 2011

Mayan Families can now take Credit Card donations right over the phone!

Good news! Mayan Families can now take Credit Card donations right over the phone!
And we can take recurring monthly donations this way also!
You may call in a donation to Mayan Families at anytime.
If we do not answer please leave us a message with your name, telephone number and the best time and day to call you back.
Mayan Families accepts Visa, Master Card or American Express. Cash gifts entitle you to tax benefits in the year of your charitable gift.
If you wish to make a donation over the phone, please call Dwight Poage at 619-550-2608 for assistance. Thank you for your continued support!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A sensitive story and a big need!

It has been a really busy two weeks at Mayan busy that we have had little time to post.....we seem to have had a lot of people in very dire situations.

The following is written by Stephanie, who has been volunteering with us for the past several months, in fact, altogether over 6 months. Stephanie, was part of the wonderful trio of Ronnie, Jessica and Stephanie who did so much to improve the family aid program and the elderly care program.

This is the story of a young woman that Stephanie interviewed today. We debated about including the story of her rape but it was hard to tell her story without it.  

We have a young woman in a terrible situation who arrived in our office today. Because her story is quite sensitive, we cannot post it on the blog for the whole internet to see, so we are hoping that perhaps you can help. Heidy is just 17 years old, but she was raped two years ago by a man from her town. She has a child, year-and-a-half-old Ronaldo Eduardo, as a result of the incident. Very bravely, and with the help of a women's rights organization here in Panajachel, Heidy pressed charges against the man who attacked her, and he was arrested. Unfortunately, he comes from a family with a bit of money, so he was quickly freed, and attempts to hold him responsible for his crime or his child have so far been unsuccessful.

During the entire process, Heidy has been living with her family, which consists of her parents and her 10 surviving siblings (she had 13, but three have passed away). Her family is very poor, and there is not enough money to feed so many mouths. To make matters worse, her mother is not well, and has trouble getting around because of a problem in her leg. During the legal proceedings, her family had held out some hope that Heidy and Ronaldo would in the end at least receive some financial support from the man who attacked her, but when it became apparent recently that that is unlikely, Heidy's parents told her that she had to leave, and do her best to support her son on her own, because they simply could not afford to feed two more people.

Without anywhere else to go, she came to Panajachel to the lawyer's office, and the lawyer who represented her, knowing her situation, has kindly given her a temporary place to stay and the chance to clean around the office to earn money for food. Still, it is clear that both she and Ronaldo are very malnourished--Ronaldo looks around and grabs at things like a baby should, but he seems to do it in slow motion, and his eyes are dull. He is also suffering from a nasty cough, but Heidy can hardly afford to give him any food, much less take him to a doctor or buy medicine.

The lawyer who is helping her has agreed to pay to take the baby to the doctor, but Heidy and Ronaldo are going to need longer-term help in a way that the lawyer and her organization are not set up to provide, so she brought them to us to see if we could help. We would like to include Ronaldo in our milk program, since he is obviously in need of extra nutrients, as well as provide them with some food monthly. $45 a month will provide Ronaldo with a full supply of fortified milk, and any additional donations would go towards food. This is a very young girl in a very difficult situation, and we don't want to put her name and face and traumatic history on the internet for all to see, but we--and they--would really appreciate anything that you can do to help them. You can donate for them at Donate Now, by entering FA91. Thank you!

Sharon Smart-Poage
Panajachel, Guatemala

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Daves treasures

Thanks Dave! These are items that Dave is sending down in the next shipment!
The fans will be great, it is so hot in the office right now.
The ponchos are going to arrive in just the right time, it started raining a little bit yesterday.
Thank you for everything, ...we really need the dog collars and leashes!
The First Aid kits are wonderful , each pre-school has one and so does the Elderly Care program.
Everything you are sending ...will be really useful.
Mil gracias, Sharon

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mothers Day Celebration in San Jorge!

We went to visit the San Jorge preschool for the Mother's Day celebration yesterday, and it was great!  Almost all of the mothers came, so the school room was packed with moms, students, and their younger siblings, all ready for a party.  The students started things off with what was possibly the most adorable dance I've ever seen: tiny little boys in their button down shirts, dancing with teensy little girls in the school's 'uniform' of traditional clothing.  One couple really got into it--they were spinning and twirling all over the floor to a Mother's Day song.  The little boy from that couple, Javier, was the next act; he put on a cool pair of shades and a cowboy hat, and lip-synced a Mother's Day rap, dancing all the while.  

Then there were the games for the mothers.  Highlights included a banana eating contest, racing to wrap each other like mummies with toilet paper, and filling empty coke bottles with water--with their mouths.  The moms were great sports, and there were lots of laughs and prizes to go around.  My favorite moment of the day, though, came during a game where each mom got a little piece of paper with something they had to do or act out.  Someone got a rooster, and someone got an elephant, and both acted them out admirably.  When it came down to the last woman--a shy mom who was one of the last to volunteer to participate--she opened her paper to find that she had to dance.  She started very slowly, and she was obviously a bit embarrassed, when Javier--the dancer and lip-syncer extraordinaire--rushed onto the floor to help her out!  With such an enthusiastic partner, she couldn't help but dance, and they ended up winning the game.  

The party ended with gifts for the moms--family pictures in frames made by the kids, and tamales for everyone.  The moms loved the gifts.  Many people don't have any pictures of their family, so the framed photos were really special.  It was great to see how excited the kids were to give their moms the presents.  They all ran across the room, arms outstretched holding their pictures out towards their moms.  It was a great end to the festivities, and everybody went home happy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mayo-17-2011 photos of delivering items to a needy family in San Andres, Guatemala for the Xinico family.

Mayo-17-2011 photos of delivering items to a needy family in San Andres, Guatemala for the Xinico family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mayan Families Newest Preschool and Feeding Program in El Barranco, Guatemala!

Welcome to the Mayan Families Newest Preschool and Feeding Program in El Barranco, Guatemala!

Mothers Day Celebration in San Antonio Palapo, Guatemala

Hi everyone, This is Mothers Day celebration in San Antonio Palapo, Guatemala

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2- Month-Old Juan Emilio May Have Rotovirus (FA132)

Hi Everyone,
We have a little 2 month old and his family that needs help.

Juan Emilio was born 2 months ago, already malnourished. Though he wasn't significantly premature, he weighed only 5 pounds. Though he has gained weight over his two months of life, his health, unfortunately, hasn't improved as much. He vomits frequently, especially at night, and has intermittent bouts of diarrhea, which leaves him dehydrated. His skin is a bit yellowish, as well. His mother, Barbara, was worried that he hadn't gotten better, so she took him to the hospital three weeks ago. Doctors there suspect that he has rotovirus, as well as a possible liver problem, but Juan's family can't afford the tests to find out for sure.

His mother brought him home, powerless to do anything else, and simply cared for him the best she could until she heard about Mayan Families. She hopes that we might be able to get Juan a proper diagnosis and the treatment that he needs to get better.
We are very glad she brought him in, as we have seen so many children die of easily treatable illnesses, simply for lack of money or access to medical care.

Right now, she owes two months of rent ($133) on the single room that the family shares, and the children are sometimes going without food.

4 of the children also need school sponsorship.

If you would like to help this family in some way please visit:



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A very Happy Mother's Day in Guatemala!

Over 260 women and families had a very Happy Mother's Day yesterday!
They received a big basket of food with a bbq chicken, carrots, cabbage, oil, cereals, corn, beans and lots of other goodies.
At a time when food is very expensive and it is even more difficult for families to be able to feed their children, this was a very wonderful way for Mothers to celebrate Mother's Day!
Thank you everyone who made this possible.

Mother's Day Basket packing at Mayan Families in Guatemala.

Yesterday was a fun busy day for us at Mayan Families....we had tons of carrots to tie in bunches together for the Mother's Day baskets....we had over 260 baskets of food to pack....the delicious smells of 260 bbq chickens wafted through out our compound all day! 
We were lucky to have the help of several wonderful volunteers to help pack the baskets.
We started at and we were still there at 7.30pm last night.   We have about 50 baskets that could not be collected yesterday but will be picked up today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We're ready!

Hi, we have all the food except for the bbq chickens waiting to be packed for tomorrow.
We have 270 baskets and if you want to get a late one in, please send it to us!
Today we have had two volunteers here who have helped straighten up the area. One of them was in heaven, she is a real organizer and this was her idea of bliss!
We had two puppies adopted out today...we were thrilled and then later in the afternoon, we had a boy bring two little white puppies that he found dumped on the street!
We have Caroline Tiffin from MFC visiting with us....she was at the Elderly Care program today and Susie who went with her called to tell me that it is so hot in the kitchen, that I have to give up my new fan and send it to the Elderly Care program. I was sorry to hear that because I have only had the fan for one day! :( But it apparently is stifling hot there so I am sure that they will be happy to have it tomorrow. The old refrigerator that we had has broken again and cannot be repaired. We need to start fundraising for a new one. We only need a small one.
Then later in the afternoon, we learned that one of the Elderly from the program in San Jorge had passed away....this was so surprising because we had delivered his lunch and he was seemingly , o.k. but had passed away suddenly. He and his wife had just had a mattress donated to them last week. Anna is putting up his photo and story on the Elderly blog. He was 87 years old and his wife is in her 90's.
We have been printing out a photo of each child in the pre-school today so that they can do a craft tomorrow at the pre-school. They will be making a photo frame for their mother and they will have a real photo of themselves and sometimes their mother together to put in these frames! I think the mothers are going to love it.
We also have been packing gifts today for each pre-school is doing a celebration....they will be having the mother's come, the children will perform something and then they will have refreshments.
In Tierra Linda, they are celebrating in the evening.....they have invited all the village, the pre-school and the high school are joining together to host the celebrations. They have collected money from all the families to help pay for the food.
Today we also gave about $70 worth of goods to the children of Xecotoj who are planning to celebrate Mother's Day in their little village. They are also doing it in the evening. We are very proud that two of these four students are our sponsored students and that they are doing all this work to celebrate their mothers. Thank you to the people who were able to donate this money to help the children be able to do this celebration. They still need about $50 US more if anyone would like to help them.
We had a visit from the community leaders of Chuitanimit and they are very concerned about the upcoming wet season. They are living in basically tents and the ground will be very, very muddy. They do not have cement floors , they do not have real houses....and the place they are living is on a hill. It is going to be a very difficult time for them.
They need a $100,000 US to be able to buy a huge property that will be their village. They were promised by the govt. that they would receive help relocating if they evacuated their village. Their village was in a lot of danger from the mudslides. They evacuated, they signed papers renouncing their ownership and have been waiting to receive the promised help. It doesn't seem like it is forthcoming. Several of the children from Chuitanimit attend the Mayan Families/ Mission Guatemala pre-school in San Andres.
The Health center called us to tell us that the Ultra sound machine that we had donated over a year ago is broken and needs repair to the tune of nearly $1,500 US.
We also found out, sadly, the one of our young students who is nearly 17yrs old ....has dropped out of school and will be getting married in the next few weeks. She and her boyfriend were found to have spent the night together and the solution is that they now get married. The mother in law - to be - has agreed to the marriage but on the condition that the girl drop out of school, " if she is going to be married- then she has to act married". We suspect that she may be pregnant but we don't know. The ironic thing is that I remember her mother being in just the same situation, she was pregnant at 17 but the boy did not marry her, she has raised her daughter as a single mother and really struggled and hoped that her daughter would take advantage of the opportunities that she had to get a higher education. But not to be now ....but maybe later. Please do not worry that it is your student, the sponsor has been advised.
Stephanie, our wonderful volunteer is working on our Annual Report....bless her!
Mayerlin is working on the sewing project and has many exciting ideas. She is doing a great job and we are so happy to have her working on the Women's Empowerment project.
Well, that is some of the happenings here today..... tomorrow we will be starting to pack at ....thank you for all of you that were able to send Mother's Day baskets and thank you to all of you who shared the notices on your social never know when it can make a difference.
Sharon Smart-Poage
Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, May 9, 2011

Elderly Manuel and Miguel need help with a roof.

Miguel gratefully receiving his donated mattress
Manuel and Miguel share a little room behind their niece and nephew's house. However, it is an old building and the roof, which is made of tin sheets, leaks when it rains. Now that the rainy season is on it's way, we would like to get the roof replaced so that they can stay dry and warm and so their room will not become damp and moldy, which could easily lead to illness in both of them considering the state of their health. Manuel has an indwelling catheter and the skin around its entry point occasionally gets infected. It is vitally important that he has a dry clean place to live to reduce the risk of infection. Miguel is also at high risk of illness from a damp and moldy room as he can no longer walk and spends all his time in his bed.
To remove the old roof and install a brand new one will cost $130.
If you are able to contribute to this amount please go to the donate now page and enter A24 and/or A25 with the instructions to fix the roof.
To read more about Manuel and Miguel please review older blog posts here.

Thank you for your help in keeping these two men comfortable and healthy!

Santos is blind and needs food.

Santos Palas Buch is 57 years old, he lives with his daughter Candelaria, his son in law, and their three children; Jose Antonio, 10, Alex, 7, and Carlos, 5. His son-in-law is the breadwinner for the family and he works as a builders assistant whenever he can find work.

Santos has been blind since June 2010, no one really knows why he went blind. Simply he was fine, then one day his eyes started to itch, and gradually the itchiness became stronger and more frequent and then the itch turned into pain, and he finally went to a doctor. The doctor he consulted at the public hospital said that there was nothing that could be done, and Santos lost his sight in both eyes.

Sponsoring Santos to ensure he can receive daily hot meals with Mayan Families, and to provide him with daily vitamins would cost $36 monthly. If you would like to sponsor Santos for all or part of this amount please or read his story, please visit:




Mario needs help with new prosethics.

Eleven years ago, when Mario was just 16, he had an accident while working as a gardener in a private house. He was trimming a tree when he accidentally touched a charged cable and was severely electrocuted on the right side of his body. He was taken to the hospital, where they had to amputate part of his right arm and leg. He spent a long time in hospital recovering, and he was forced to stop working and going to school because of the injuries and all of the surgeries that he needed. When he finally returned home, he focused on getting better.

Because his family is very poor, he was able to get physical therapy from an organization for a reduced price. He went as much as he could afford--usually three or four times a week.

The physical therapy sessions helped me a great deal, but he spent the year following his release from the hospital on crutches. Prosthetic arms and legs are prohibitively expensive in Guatemala, even for families that are well off. For Mario and his family the limbs were an impossible dream. However, one day a medical team arrived from the United States, and happened to visit the clinic where Mario was getting physical therapy. They decided to help Mario out, using contacts and fundraising and they were able to raise the money to get Mario a prosthetic arm and leg.

The prosthetics have been invaluable to Mario. With them, he is able to lead as normal a life as possible. He has even returned to school with the help of a Mayan Families sponsor, and he is now completing his final year of high school--an accomplishment that only 7.9% of kids in the state of Solola achieve.

Prosthetics are generally expected to have a lifespan of 3 years. Mario has been using these prosthetics for 10 years now, and are starting to fall apart...

To read Mario's story or to help him, please visit:




Sunday, May 8, 2011

Local group needs help shipping shoes to Guatemala - KSFY Action News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Local group needs help shipping shoes to Guatemala - KSFY Action News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Carla Cooey , a long time Mayan Families supporter is collecting these shoes to send to Mayan Families. If anyone can help with the cost of the shipping, even a little bit will help, please contact Carla.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Milk Program--Happy Mother's Day!!

Mother's Day reminds us all of the tireless love and devotion that mothers give to their children around the world; their strength and selfless sacrifice are truly incredible.  The indigenous mothers of Guatemala face tremendous obstacles in trying to provide the most basic of needs to their kids, including milk for their small children.  Guatemalan mothers are often malnourished themselves, and cannot produce milk to nurse their young children and they lack the resources to buy formula.  These mothers want the best for their children, but pervasive poverty and malnutrition are extremely difficult to overcome.  This Mother's Day, give $10 to help one of these extraordinary women provide for their children.  This $10 donation will be applied to our Milk Program, which supplies mother's with desperately needed milk for their growing children.  When you make a donation, we will email your mother with a thank you note and a picture of one of the benefitting mothers and her young child (or children).  Just go to, scroll down to the "Other" field and enter $10 and then enter Mother's Day Milk Program in the "Details" field.  Be sure to note your mother's email address in the "Notes" section of the Paypal payment form so we can send her a special message.  Happy Mother's Day!

Out of the Medrano Boxes!

Here are some of the very happy people receiving donations from the very wonderful boxes of donations that we have recently received!

There were many more people who were happy to receive baby clothes, shoes, blankets etc and you can see their photos in our Picassa web pages....

Thank you so much to everyone who has been able to send us donations to distribute. These donations are so very much appreciated!

Posted by Picasa

Rising food costs mean more hunger in Guatemala.

The cost of food prices is increasing and due to the devastation of Tropical Storm Agatha last year many of the crops have been devastated ...resulting in food shortages for this year.

Most of the indigenous families have tortillas as staple in their diet. Often when families do not have anything else to eat, they can always have tortillas with salt, but now, even that is threatened by the shortage of corn and the rising cost of what is available.

The first family is receiving food from our emergency food supplies.

The other three families were fortunate to receive food from their sponsors. This food is a wonderful gift. It means the difference for many families of having enough food to feed their children or not.

If you would like to help a family with food, no amount is too small....please go to our

Posted by Picasa

Anciana program in Guatemala.

Five days a week in Panajachel Mayan Families delivers meals to Elderly people who are in need of food, some of them are bedridden.
We started out just delivering food but then realized that we could not just give food when people were in great need of having medicines and other necessities. Several of the elderly people we help are bedridden and in need of diapers.

We had one elderly woman who was so concious of the cost of the diapers and how much work it was for her family, that she decided it was best not to drink or eat too much.

When we found her she was badly dehydrated and very ill. We started supplying her with diapers and making sure that she had enough to eat and drink. It has made a huge difference to her life.

Disposable Adult diapers are expensive here and we are always needing donations to help purchase them. If you are coming to Guatemala and want to bring donations with you, please include a pack of Disposable Adult diapers...we would be very grateful.

In Panajachel, we feel 26 Elderly people every day. In San Jorge Laguna we have a little two room center were we feed 40 elderly people and 15 orphaned children a day.
Any donations to help with these costs would be very gratefully received.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A little girl is born!

Isabel Mucun brought her three day old baby to visit us. This is very much against the customs practised here in the highlands. Usually , the mother does not leave the house for 15 days with the baby.
Isabel's little girl weighs 6lb and is very tiny. She seems very alert and in good health.
We gave Isabel clothing, diapers and blankets for the baby. She asked us for formula and we said no, she is breastfeeding and not in need of formula.

Isabel has had three other children removed from her custody because of mistreatment. We hope that this little one will be luckier.
Posted by Picasa

Geronimo Sol Ajot, 66, has a hernia in his groin

Geronimo Sol Ajot, 66, has a hernia in his groin. It causes him intense pain, making it almost impossible for him to perform his work as a farmer. He can only spend a few hours a day in the field before the pain is unbearable and he has to return home.

The public hospital can fix Geronimo's hernia, but he needs to buy the surgical supplies, including the net that doctors will put in to repair the hernia, and a supply of blood (blood costs money in Guatemala), as well as pay for his transportation to and from the hospital. In all, he needs about $85 in order to have the operation, which has already been scheduled for Friday. When the hospital asked for payment and Geronimo and his family were unable to come up with the money, the hospital social worker referred him to Mayan Families in the hope that we might be able to help him.

If you'd like to help Geronimo get back to work please visit: or


ISU professor's research featured as May cover story in Smithsonian Magazine - ISU professor's research featured as May cover story in Smithsonian Magazine: Local

ISU professor's research featured as May cover story in Smithsonian Magazine - ISU professor's research featured as May cover story in Smithsonian Magazine: Local

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Latin America's poorest hit by food price rises

Latin America's poorest hit by food price rises

Here is the link to the original article:

Mon May 2, 2011 12:01am EDT

* Poor countries in Latin America face food price hit

* Flexible foreign exchange rates help food effects

WASHINGTON May 2 (Reuters) - Sharp increases in food prices will hit poorer Latin American countries like Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras the hardest, raising their inflation rates by more than 5 percentage points this year, according to a new report released on Monday.

The report by the Inter-American Development Bank, which focuses on Latin American and the Caribbean issues, said countries hardest hit were those where food makes up a large part of their overall inflation basket and they have limited or no exchange rate flexibility to fall back on.

Countries with flexible exchange rates such as Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay are able to cope better with food price rises as long as they allow their currencies to appreciate and are willing to raise interest rates, the report said.

Brazil and other large economies in the region are already struggling with currency appreciations caused by a surge in private capital inflows they blame on super low interest rates in sluggish advanced economies such as the United States.

The added pressure from higher food prices on Brazil and others is a challenge for policymakers.

"The loss of competitiveness is clearly a risk for Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, which appear to absorb international commodity price shocks through large, and permanent, exchange rate appreciations," the report noted.

Stiff rises in prices of sugar, wheat and maize have contributed to record international food prices in January and February, just three years after the last food price crisis.

Pricier food is especially difficult for the poor because studies show the bulk of their disposable income goes toward buying food and any cutback increases hunger and malnutrition.

The current price surge has been blamed on increased demand from emerging market economies such as China, increasing use of maize to produce ethanol in the United States, and slower agriculture productivity growth.

Export bans, price controls and food hoarding by some countries have also distorted global food markets, the report said, dismissing those that blame the rise on speculators.


The IADB economists noted that if food prices remain at current highs, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Honduras should see the most significant rise in their inflation rates of more than 5 percentage points this year.

The report singled out Guatemala as a "case for concern" since its exchange rate flexibility does not appear to prevent international food prices from passing through to domestic food prices and general inflation, the report said.

It noted that non-food inflation could also jump in several countries, including the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

Meanwhile, inflation increases of between 2 and 5 percentage points are likely in the Bahamas, Panama and Peru. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia should see inflation rate increases of no more than an additional one percentage point, the IADB report said.

In the Caribbean and much of the Central American region, countries fix or have only very limited exchange rate flexibility and therefore feel the effects of a rise in international food prices, the report said.

In poorer Central America food has one of the highest weights in the overall consumption basket, and the urban poor are most at risk, it said.

"It is therefore necessary to increase aid to these groups and improve its targeting, perhaps through reformed conditional cash transfer schemes, to compensate for the effect of the food price surge," the institution urged.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Diane Craft)