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

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