Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guatemala land slide closes back road to Panajachel and San Andres

Here are more photos of the upside bulldozer that crushed and killed the driver. He has small children, it is a very sad situation for his family. This is on the back road out from Panajachel to San Andres Sematabaj, Guatemala. They say it will be open by Friday. Right now people have to cross the bridge 5 at a time, and then take a pickup truck on the other side to their destination.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The back road to Panajachel, Guatemala is closed for repairs and one person died in the land slide!

Hi everyone,
Here are some photos and information on the road closure. It was a landslide on Friday and 1 person died who was crushed under the bulldozer he was driving at the time of the slide.



To all of those that send shipments of donation, Thank you!

Hi everyone who sends shipments,
I want to thank you for all the hard work to get these shipments here.  We really appreciate so much all the effort that everyone goes to.
On behalf of all the sponsored students who receive gifts....a huge thank you!  I wish you could all be here to see the huge surprise and the great joy that these gifts bring. It is like Christmas has arrived!   The students cannot believe their luck that someone has thought about them and sent these wonderful things to them.  I cannot explain to you how magical it is for these students and their families to receive gifts.

I also want to thank you so much for being so thoughtful and collecting the school supplies.  These school supplies are so useful to us.

Not only do they help the children who are sponsored to go to school but they also help the siblings who are not sponsored. We often have children coming to us that do not have what they need to go to school and while we cannot sponsor them because we just do not have enough sponsors, we can give them some school supplies and a backpack, even second hand backpacks are great.

We also have schools come to us that do not have enough school supplies and we share supplies with them.

We are so grateful for all the help that you give us with this.....please don't forget the free gift of coupons....last week a volunteer brought us down a bag of school supplies that her mother had got for free with coupons that she had used!
Thank you once again for all you do for us ....we are very, very appreciative!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yesterday was big parade day!

Yesterday we held a parade in Panajachel. 
It was supported by the Health Commission here in Panajachel.
It was for raising awareness about giving dogs and cats rabies shots and also to create more awareness about spaying and neutering animals.
While we are animal lovers and hate to see the suffering of animals this is not just about wanting to help the animals. It is about keeping the community safe.   Rabies is a deadly, horrible disease.  We want to make sure that no child or adult will ever  have to suffer a death like that.   We recently had a group come and show us a video about Rabies and they had small footage ( thank goodness) of a child in Haiti dying of rabies.  It was the most horrendous thing I have ever seen. This little boy was about 5 yrs old.  He was tied to a bed. He was foaming at the mouth and then would bring up the most amazing amounts of saliva and foam, throwing his head back and screaming ....I never want to see another child suffer like that.   I hope that they quickly sedated this child and did  not let him suffer more.

The spaying and neutering will increase the cleanliness of the town, there will be less feces on the streets.....this feces washes into the river and the lake.

There will also be less packs of dogs forming and roaming the streets.   We have been spaying and neutering here in Panajachel for the past five years and it has made a huge difference in the town.
But there are so many towns around the lake that are asking for help.
Poisoning which is the method used here is horrible. It is a terrible death for the animals, it is horrifying for children to watch this and it is dangerous. The poison can stay on the street,  people who are searching for food at the garbage dumps are very vulnerable to finding poisoned food,  ( yes, unfortunately, we have families searching for food in the garbage dumps at the local market (which is where poison is left for the animals and at the local dump).

We were very encouraged by the support that we received from the community yesterday and the local government. They even sent their brass band down from Solola to participate!

Today we are holding a free spay and neuter clinic in Panajachel.
Yesterday....rabies shots were free in several booths that were set up throughout the town.

We had lots of sponsored children participate in the parade and we were amazed to see one whole school turn up with all their children in costumes.  Our Pana pre school was also there....please go to this link to see the photos. https://picasaweb.google.com/mayanfamilies/Julio6De2011FotosDeDesfileDeLosPerros?authuser=0&feat=directlink


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Christine and David Skinner, a volunteers story!

I went with a group to visit Mayan Families and do some work with them. We sent emails home to keep people up to speed on what we were doing. I thought I would share one of them with you all. We stayed very busy and had a wonderful time. If you have never visited, I recommend it. I knew Mayan Families was a great organization but really didn't comprehend a day in the life until I was seeing it. Everyone works hard and deeply cares about the people of Guatemala. They are truly amazing people I have enormous respect for!

Once again the group had a double mission. Denny and Deanne took part in the delivery of lunch to the elderly in Panajachel. There were 55 people in the elderly program. Mayan Families finds the elderly who have no family to help them with food or basic needs. Mayan Families started the program because of one woman who had laid in her bed and starved to death because she had no food and was too weak to get up. They deliver food Mondays through Friday at lunch and many of the elderly save the tortillas so they can eat them for supper.

Deanne had the opportunity to meet Victor and give him his Bible.We gave Victors family corn and some other food so they will have food for the next two weeks. We decided to use the money we were going to use to take the families out to eat and buy food for them instead. We felt if given the choice the mothers would choose to have food for two weeks instead of one night out. The need for food is so great here we can't fully explain it.

For the rest of us, we were off to Santa Cantarina to visit Von's sponsored student Roberto. He lives with his grandparents and sister. The grandmother was there and told us about tropical storm Agatha last year. She had only seconds to grab her two grandchildren, climb a ledge and hold on to a post. She said at that point she gave herself over to God's protection and waited for what would happen. It was a very touching story.

Next we were off to San Antonio to see another preschool. This one was a little different in that every child in the preschool was effected by Agatha. Most had family members or friends buried in the mudslides caused by the 30 inches of rain in 24 hours. The view at the preschool was gorgeous. They are right on the lake, it is a beautiful place to learn. The kids were excited to see us and had a good time with Ring Around the Rosie. They have a feeding program for the kids so they have lunch before they go home for the day. They also have an after school program for those who need it.

Then we all met back at Mayan Families and were off to the feeding program at San Jorge. They feed the elderly and the orphans at this program. The volunteer there also tutors the children who need it. The program is in need of gas stove if anyone is interested in helping them. We enjoyed serving the meals to the people as they came in. Some of the elderly are unable to come in themselves so they have family members pick up the food. We met Alejandro, an elderly gentleman Deanne sponsors for pain medication for just $10 a month. We listened to their life experience and then we prayed for him and his family.

We moved down the road a little and stopped at an elderly woman's home who had just lost her husband after 55 years of marriage. She was very depressed and had stopped coming in to the feeding program. Mayan Families staff are very concerned about her. Denny said a prayer for the lady and she was grateful for the prayer. She prayed with Denny and then kissed his hands in gratitude.

Next we were off to see the Catholic church in San Jorge. The church is so old no one knows just how old it is. It was dressed up for Corpus Christi which has been celebrated all week and will end with a big celebration on Sunday. It was a nice way to end the day. We made our way back to Panajachel with a few stops to take in the view of Lake Atitlan. Our weather was again sunny and pleasant. It is raining here as we type this. It is a nice soft rain, good for sleeping.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mid June, At the end of a week!

This has been such a busy week with medical clinics.
Yesterday the medical/dental and vision group held a clinic in Chukumuk.
They attended to over a 100 people.
Gloria called me last night after she returned from translating for the doctors and was very disturbed by how many people have so little to eat.
One of the doctors was in tears after talking to a very young, very thin woman who told him that very often she and her 10yr old brother often have nothing to eat . That her parents died in the mudslides and her older sisters have married and it is just the two of them. Thankfully, the doctor made arrangements with Gloria to send some money for food every month for these two young people.
Gloria asked me if we could set up a pre-school/feeding program for the children there, she feels the need is very great. I told her we would love to but it is just a matter of money and trying to raise funds for it.
Yesterday three young children were brought to Mayan Famililes by the mother of one of our sponsored students.
They are a 2-3 yr old girl, a 4yr old boy and a 6yr old girl. Very thin, their clothes were very tattered and dirty.
The mother of the children asked the sponsored mother who comes from the same village , if she could spend the night at her house, the sponsored mother agreed. The next day the mother asked the sponsored mother whether the children could stay with her for a week because she had found a job in Antigua and needed time to start the job and arrange things before the children came. The sponsored mother agreed again. A week went past, two weeks went past....nothing was heard from the mother.
Then the mother called and said she was not coming back for the children, that the sponsored mother could do what she liked, keep them, give them away, it didn't matter.
The sponsored mother's husband got on the phone and told the woman if she didn't come back for the children that he would call the police and she would be arrested. She came back the next day....she has a one year old baby she is still breastfeeding. She told the sponsored mother that she had met a man and that he does not want all these children with them but he will accept the baby.
The sponsored mother and father once again, told her, that she needed to take the children with her. They have a large family themselves including one child in a wheel chair. The mother agreed to take the children and left with them.
The sponsored family left to go to church around 6p.m. ....when they returned around 10pm the three children were sitting cold and trembling on the front door step. The 6yr old told them that the mother said that would stay there and that she would not be coming back for them.
The sponsored mother came to us yesterday and is very worried about what to do with these children.
She has known the mother for many years, the mother does not have any family that she knows of . There is one uncle that the children stayed with for a week but he beat them badly....and the children all said that they do not want to go back there because he hits them so hard.
The youngest one appears to have some scars on her back from being beaten. She does not talk and she is not toilet trained. We are not sure what her problems are exactly ....but she had a fever yesterday and we treated her for that.
The sponsored mother has already had someone offer to take the 6yr old girl. ....but it is obvious that this child would be taken in as a servant. The sponsored mother has said that she will keep the children together with her if she can get support to be able to feed, clothe, and send them to school. The young one, Michaela needs to be on the milk program so that she can have milk for her bottle. She is obviously very traumatised as are the other two children.
I have never seen such a sad face as this little Michaela had.
I think these children will be much better with the sponsored mother who is willing to take them and keep them together rather than send them to an orphanage.
We are hoping that we can send them to our pre-school and we will be looking for sponsorship for each one of them.
The sponsored father is a pastor at the local church and is a good man. He cares deeply about his own children and I think he will be very kind to these children. He and his wife are just concerned about having enough food to be able to feed them and support them.
We have had an update about Heydi who was the young girl who was raped and now has a baby.
She is back living with her family but the family do not really want her there but as long as we are providing food for her and the child then she can stay there. The family do not accept the little boy and they do not like to give them his food.
We are trying to do everything that we can so that Heydi is not a burden on her family and making that happen we hope will soften the hearts of the family. We had hoped that there would be enough land at the parent's home to build a room for Heydi and the baby so that they could be independent but the space is too small. We are now hoping that we will find a small piece of land for Heydi and to be able to build her a house. We have given Heydi an option as to where she could go and stay but she feels safer if she stays at home with her family.....even if they do not want her. Thanks to the donations that we receive from you we were able to give plenty of clothing to the babies and children who came in.
Anna from Family Aid left last Friday and is now back in Australia preparing to go back to University to start her Masters Degree.
We have Dina from Brazil who is a lovely young woman who has taken Anna's place. Dina speaks fluent English/Spanish as well as her native, Portugese.
We also have an intern, Erin who will be with us for several months who is helping Dina till we have a new person to take over.
We have many volunteers right now and it is wonderful.
We had a very inspiring young woman visit us yesterday. Her name is Colette and at 15yrs old she has started her own organization to help children. Yesterday, she and her father delivered work books that she designed and printed for young children. She delivered these books to Pana pre-school and to San Antonio after school program. The children loved them and we have enough to give to all the pre-schools.
Colette's mother is a pediatrician who is here working with a medical group. She asked us to see if we could get medical care for a young boy 16 months old, who has a cleft palate and is also tongue tied. This condition is making it very difficult for him to be able to eat.
We had a visit from the doctor at Central Salud, this is the govt. run health clinics that offer free medical treatment for the communities.
Over a year ago we gave them an ultrasound machine that Wayne had driven down from Canada. Unfortunately, it was damaged in the process of coming down and it needs repairs. They have been trying to raise the funds ever since but they have had no luck. They can get it repaired but it will cost $1,500 US. They came to us to ask if we had any one who could help them with this. We are going to try and help them because this would be such an incredibly useful item for them to have.
The doctor also told me that they have very little medications.....people come to them sick and they have nothing to give them. She also told me that the govt. has not allocated the workers wages for the past two months either....so no meds and no wages makes it very difficult for them to work. The doctor thanked us for facilitating these medical teams and said how much they help the people.
We were able to give them some children's tylenol, some OTC meds but we really had very little that we could share with them.
Today we are having a clinic at San Antonio Palopo. It is the last day of the clinics, tonight we will have a farewell dinner with the group and they will be heading off to Antigua for a few hours and then onto the city. This group has worked so hard and helped so many people. We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with them.
We had a very happy, boisterous crowd from the San Jorge school soccer team come to Mayan Families yesterday. They were so thrilled to receive soccer uniforms ...thank you TEWKSBURY!!! , soccer shoes, socks, shin guards and three new balls! They were thrilled, they rushed off and played an impromtu game in the garden. Today, Tierra Linda Elementary school will be coming down to receive their uniforms.
And on an even happier note, we have Shannon and her family here. Shannon is a long time Mayan Families Connection member and we are so happy to have her back here with us.