As this year draws to an end, we would like to dedicate this last day of the year, with gratitude, to all of the supporters, donors and sponsors of Mayan Families who have made so many wonderful things possible this year.
Thank you for sending so many children to school and giving them a chance at a brighter future.Thank you for the houses you have built, the school construction, the community center construction, the New Mayan Families Trade School with Carpentry Classes and all of the tools needed to supply it, the Sewing Machines and supplies to make the sewing classes even better, the food you have given so that people can have enough to eat, thelife-savingmedical care that you have made possible for so many who otherwise would not have received help, donated medical supplies and equipment, for the micro loans to help families to have a hand up, the stoves that make it possible to have clean air inside the homes, aid for the elderly, the water filters that give clean, safe drinking water, the many wonderful donations of clothing, shoes, blankets, towels, beds, closets, tables and chairs.....these things are such basics,but they are such miracles for the people who receive them.
Thank you for the Holiday Tamale Food Baskets....we received donations for 1,400 baskets that were able to feed approximately 14,000 people this December,and the toys that you donated that brought such joy to thousands of children.
Thank you to the volunteers who came and gave their time. To themedical, dental, visionand veterinarian groups that made such a difference in the quality of life for so many. Thank you to the sponsors who came and visited their students, who shared hugs and brought such joy.
This year, as we gave out the Holiday Tamale Food baskets ...As we gave out the Holiday Tamale Food baskets this year,so many people came up to me and said, thank you. They thanked me for the kitchens and bathrooms that had been built, the stoves, the water filters, the medical care, the operations that had been organized and for giving their children a chance to go to school.
These thanks belong to you.
One woman came and thanked me for the sponsorship that made it possible for her to go complete her University degree. She is a wife and a mother of 6 children. She started to thank me,and then tears welled up in her eyes. She said now I have completed my University degree,and I have a job as a social worker. She said,"before I had my degree and before I had a job....I could only wash clothes by hand and make a little money." "My first four children did not eat three times a day.They often did not have more than tortillas with salt. They didn't know what milk was....now my two younger children do not know what it is like to go hungry. They have milk every day. They are healthy. There have been so many drastic changes in my life since I have graduated and can now have a job that pays me a living wage so that I can help my family."
Today is your last day to take advantage ofthis year'stax laws and make a tax-deductible gift to support Mayan Families and the crucial work we do here in rural Guatemala.Your contribution will makehavean immediate and lasting impact to positively affect the lives of Mayan children, women, families and the elderly.
Mayan Families this year won the award from Great Non Profits.org as one of a their Top Charities for 2012!With our high ratings for efficiency and effectiveness, you can feel confident thatthe special tax-deductible gift you make right nowwill go as far as possible to help improve the lives of the families we work with.With each year that passes, the challenges facing them grow in scale and complexity.Your support is essential to ensuring that Mayan Families can take the innovative steps necessary to expand the scope, scale and pace of our work.
This is an email received today from one of our supporters."Greetings from Guatemala,Those who read the December Mayan Families Newsletter may recall that I have been here in Guatemala with my husband and four children (ages 8, 9, 12, 14) for the past two weeks... week 1 with Mayan Families in Panajachel, Guatemala and week 2 exploring Mayan culture in Antigua and Tikal. We fly home to Boston this afternoon, after the most glorious reunion with our son Will's Foster Family yesterday. Trip of a lifetime, for sure!!!!I just had to drop a quick note to this wonderful group and say, once again, that Mayan Families is simply awesome. Their commitment to provide comfort and care to those in need is inspiring. Although I could write about it and describe it in vivid detail, to personally witness it is a blessing beyond words.I was reminded when checking my email this morning that today is the last day of 2012 and, those who itemize their charitable contributions, may have incentive to make their sponsorship payment (or any other end-of-year gifts) before midnight tonight so that they can take the deduction for their 2012 tax payment. My inbox was full of messages this morning requesting last minute contributions from other organizations, so I thought I'd give a shout-out for my pals at Mayan Families. Wishing you all a ProsperoAnoAñoNuevo! Blessings from Guatemala City, Beth & Jay and Family"
With your help we can...
welcome more children into our school sponsorship program
continue to build or expand in areas with growing need
ensure stability within our existing programs
strengthen families in areas living beyond our current reach
As the clock winds down on 2012, you have just a few hours left to make your charitable donations (and thus qualify for a charitable tax deduction on your 2012 taxes).
Your special holiday contribution will give life changing education,
food and hope to make sure children like Maria will never know the pain
and suffering that their parents grew up with, caused by chronic
malnutrition and poverty! Your gift will give mothers like Sandra the
best gift ever— a way out of poverty for themselves, their children and
their whole family!
This is an article about the end of the Mayan Calendar.
I really do not find people very concerned about the end of the world here.
There are a lot of activities that will be respectful to the Mayan beliefs and there will be ceremonies held.
don't think people here are as concerned about the end of the world as
they are in the fact, as to how their world will continue...poverty,
hunger, lack of work. These are things that are most in their minds.
Giving facts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2012 count for 2012. This is true even if the credit card bill isn't paid until 2013. Also, checks count for 2012 as long as they are mailed in 2012 and clear, shortly thereafter. Please give generously to support Mayan Families at http://www.mayanfamilies.org/DonateOnline Thank you!
Hi, I have to share the news about Brayan, the 6 year old boy who appeared at our medical clinic in San Antonio. He had a very worried father who had spent several days and all his money at the hospital trying to find out what was the matter with his son. The U.S. medical group who had a pediatrician with him, took a look and thought it looked like lymphona.
Mayan Families put the story about Brayan on the website and on this blog. Dave Patterson and a few others sent us money to be able to send him in for an evaluacion. It was diagnosed as Hodgkins Lymphona. Dave and his family decided to do whatever was needed to help Brayan . His parents do not speak much Spanish. They needed transportation , a translator and economic support for food, lodging and medicine.
Brayan was very brave during all the treatment, but he did not like losing his hair.
After many months of treatment we have finally received the wonderful news that Brayan is now cancer free!!!!
He will need to continue to go along to monthly check ups in the city.
What an amazing Christmas gift for this family!
Thank you so much for everyone who was able to collaborate with the help for Brayan and especially, thank you to Dave Patterson and his family...who without their generosity and their kind hearts the future may have been very different for Brayan and his family.
with deep gratitude, Sharon
Sharon Smart-Poage MAYAN FAMILIES a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity Website: www.mayanfamilies.org
Hi, many of you will remember Cristobalina, the young 15 year old girl who was electrocuted when she touched a live wire. She was working in a tortilla shop and went up on the flat cement roof to get something and touched a wire. She lost both her arms above the elbows and part of her feet. She has suffered from terrible burns all over her. When she was sent home from the hospital in a wheel chair, very depressed and with no further follow up recommended. Her uncle came to Mayan Families to see if we could help her. The family did not speak Spanish, they did not know their way around the city or how to talk to doctors etc. We wrote about Cristobalina's story....and as we have seen many times...a small miracle happened for Cristobalina. A friend who is a doctor was coming to Guatemala on a medical team, she asked if Cristobalina could be brought to see her in the clinic where she would be working. Dina, who worked in Family Aid...had formed a close relationship with Cristobalina and helped keep her morale up....took Cristobalina to visit the doctor , Florence at the clinic. Florence met another doctor there , a Guatemalan doctor who had a great connections at Ronald Mc Donald House. Finally, Cristobalina was taken back to the hospital, many, many times for many surgeries but now , Cristobalina who thought she would be in a wheel chair for the rest of her life, now walks, runs and has found that there is life after this terrible accident. We have been in awe of the beautiful art work that Cristobalina has done using her mouth. Hiroko, a Japanese volunteer photographer that we have been fortunate to have with us for the past few months has done a beautiful job on showing some of Cristobalina's life and challenges. She was given very unusual access into the hospital to take these photos. Erin, the Mayan Families Co ordinator is working with Hiroko to set up an exhibition of Cristobalina's art work and Hiroko's photos here in Panajachel. We would love to get a computer for Cristobalina and have internet connected for her. She wants to learn English and we want to help her do as much as she can. Thank you to everyone who has helped Cristobalina come this far. She is still going to the hospital, there is still a long way for her to go.....but this girl has a lot of spirt! Here is the link to the photos.....you move the photos along with the little box on the bottom left hand of the screen. ( it took me awhile to find it!) http://www.hirokotanaka.net/ Sharon Sharon Smart-Poage MAYAN FAMILIES a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity Website: www.mayanfamilies.org
The food has to be delivered in lots of different directions for the pre schools.
We often have visitors and volunteers who like to go along for the ride.
we had three new volunteers, all from my home country of Australia. It
is funny to hear all these Australian accents around the office!
They were able to go on the food run to Chukumuk ..where they also helped install two stoves and delivered food to families.
also got to visit a family who has been sponsored to start their own
business selling second hand shoes...and another family who is having
construction started on a new house.
Gloria , Sandra and I went to visit the grandparents in San Jorge.
The house is clean and there is room for the children to stay there.
The grandfather is elderly and very, very strict. He is also in pain from an operation that he has had on his back and leg.
We sat and talked to the grandparents for about an hour, with the
four children sitting there. ( the mother still has the 4 year old with
her) I would have preferred that they were not there but the
grandparents wanted to talk in front of them so that there was no
The grandparents are the parents of the father of the five children.
It appears that the mother of these five children...was not the first wife
According to the grandparents, their son did very well when he was with his first wife and he has four children with her.
Then he met the mother of the five children and he left the first wife and went to live with the second wife.
The first wife and the grandchildren are from San Jorge and appear to be very connected to the family.
The grandparents have already given the son's piece of land into the names of his 4 children from his first wife .
second wife ( this was not a formal marriage) according to the
grandparents lured their son away, she was already drinking and she
turned him into a heavy drinker. They said that she would bring him
lunch every day where he worked and stick a small flask into his lunch
so that he could drink during the day.
One of his brother's eventually found the father
sitting in a park in very bad physical shape, they took him home, got
him into hospital ,cared for him , spent a lot of money on his medical
care, the doctor eventually told them that the father had cirrhosis and
would not be cured but could live longer if they gave him careful
attention. They had him at home and he was doing much better, then
according to the grandfather, the second wife called up and asked him to
come and visit them, ..against the family wishes, he went and when he
got there he started
drinking and died the next day.
They are very bitter about this woman and feel that she is responsible for the death of their son.
grandfather told me that when the children turned up , that they really
did not know them. They had only seen them maybe once or twice before.
But he said that he thought that they could live with them and that
they would be able to help out around the house.
They have built a shoe shine box for the 12 year old so that he
can go and shine shoes. The money that the earns , the grandmother
collects and keeps for him. She says that she is using this to buy his
clothes. He did , indeed have some brand new clothes from a few weeks
ago but she also complained that some days he does not bring any money
home and she suspects that he is using that money to buy food in the
The eldest girl, Karina who is 16 years old is basically looking
after the younger children. The grandmother commented that sometimes she
hits the younger ones.
The grandfather is not happy with
the girl who is approx. 11 years old. He says that she is rude and she
will not study in school and she talks back to the teachers.
He is very embarrassed by this because his children always got good report cards and attention at school.
grandparents were supposed to go to court yesterday but decided to wait
and talk to us first and listen to what we had to say.
We offered them the option that we could take the
children to live under the supervision of Mayan Families but that it
would have to be done legally..and that we would have a full time
That the children would go to school and could also do after school classes etc.
they would be free to go back to San Jorge whenever the grandparents
wanted them to come , either permanently or just to visit for special
That we would be responsible for their food , clothing , shoes , education and medical care.
grandfather offered that we could do all that and rent them a house in
San Jorge ..where the children could live alone with Karina to care for
them and we could have a woman there to supervise them.
We said that we did not care for that idea.
We don't like the idea of the children living alone.
We think it would be very difficult to find someone in San Jorge who would be able to give them the support that they need.
The grandfather then said that he would like the 12 year old boy to come to work with us so that he could learn to work.
offered that the 12 yr old boy, Karina and the other two girls, 11 yrs
old and 8 yrs old. could come to the office compound daily....5 days a
week and take computer classes, which are from 9.am.
till 11.30a.m. and then they could have lunch. Then Karina and the
boy can help around the office, the two younger ones can jump on the
trampoline, take music classes and ( our idea...is just to have fun as
We agreed that we would pay their bus fares daily and that they
would arrive and leave at a set time so that the grandparents would know
when they were expected home.
The grandparents liked this idea.
The kids all want to come and live at Mayan Families but they were
also very keen on this idea of being able to come daily to classes etc.
decision here is made with the family. So the grandparents said that
they would have to call a family meeting with all his children and they
would make a family decision about this.
We left, I felt, on very good terms with the grandparents.
would have liked to have scooped these children up and taken them with
us. Especially, the 8 year old girl who picks at her fingernails all
the time and looks so lost.
I really did not like them having to listen to how bad the family
thought their mother was ...but things are not shielded from children
here and I am sure that they have heard it all before.
The grandfather said he would give us a decision in the next few days.
I am hopeful, at least, that the children will be able to come to the
office 5 days a week to be able to have a break.
grandparents also agreed that they would let the children go to the
Elderly Care program to eat lunch every day. The children all insist
that they are very hungry and do not get enough to eat.
After coming back to the office,
was one of our sponsored students , Petronila who is 9 years old. She
was being carried on her elderly father's back, her mother was also with
them, looking very worried.
Petronila was obviously very ill , the doctor suspected that she
had a fractured clavicle ...so we called the bomberos ...which is the
local ambulance ...and for a small donation , they took the family,
accompanied by a Mayan Families staff member ( the family does not speak
Spanish...they speak Kakchiquel) to the hospital. If we send someone
by ambulance they get attended to much , much faster...they go straight
into the emergency room, rather than waiting for hours outside . Even
so , it was many hours that the family was at the hospital. After x
rays..it was decided that her clavicle was o.k. but the hospital
suspects that Petronila has tuberculosis.
If so, others in the family may also have it. Today , Tuesday , the
family has to come back for more tests. We will send someone to
accompany them. We hope that they will be able to get to the hospital,
they live in a very mountainous area...very isolated and it is hard for
them to walk so far, especially carrying Petronila on their back. This
family lost everything back in 2010 when Tropical Storm Agatha caused
such destruction from mudslides. They lost their house and were living
in a Shelterbox tent that we erected. I don't know whether they have
managed to rebuild or not yet.
Another one of our students came to the office later
in the afternoon. She needed to talk to someone and quite often , we
are the only place for some kids to be able to come.
been sponsored by us for a long time but this is the first time , she
has ever come in and asked to talk about what is going on with her. Once
she started talking, the tears started flowing. Jakelin is 18 years
old. She is the oldest of five children. Her mother left them all to
marry a man who did not want to take on the children. They all stayed
with the grandmother and were raised by her. The grandmother and the
children had a cart that they sold fruit from on the street and that is
how they made their living.
Earlier this year the grandmother died. Reluctantly, the mother took them to live with her and the step father.
the grandmother, the kids have not had the capital to buy fruit to be
able to sell on their cart. The mother is berating Jakelin for not
working and not helping with the expenses of the home. Jakelin came to
see if we had work for her, she said that she was willing to work for
any amount, she just wanted to make the situation better at home. She
feels that her mother does not love her at all and that she and her
siblings are a nuisance to the mother and the step father.
We asked her does she still have the cart and she says that she has
the cart and that she and the siblings want to go back to work but they
do not have the capital to be able to do so.
We are hoping
that someone would like to give Jakelin $200 US so that she can buy her
fruit and other things she needs to sell. She has been working for 12
years on the cart...since she was 6 years old, she knows what to do ,
she knows how to do it...she just needs this money to be able to start.
Jakelin is hoping that once the business is going again that she
will be able to afford to move her siblings into their own place.
are coming in for the Tamale baskets and we are busy organizing
Christmas parties for all the sponsored children and their siblings.
. Please keep your fingers crossed that we have enough toys for all the children.!
is not too late to send in a donation for us to be able to buy toys
here..either for your sponsored student or for children in general.
( we have some wonderful teddy bears that are nearly 3 feet high and they are only $20...!)
We just had a little earthquake here....not too strong, Magnitude 4.5, but strong enough to let you know it is moving. I hope the people in San Marcos are o.k. My thoughts are with them, some of those houses are just barely standing. There are supposed to be over 200 houses being demolished by the military here in the Solola area but we have not had it confirmed yet.
Sharon Sharon Smart-Poage MAYAN FAMILIES a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity
Happy Thanksgiving to all the people who make the work of Mayan Families possible. Thank you for all the children you send to school, the people you have sent for medical /dental care, the wheel chairs, the beds, the chairs, the tables, the homes you have built, the land you have purchased, the birthday cakes that give joy, the baskets of food that bring tears of happiness and relief to mothers who know, that for this day, their children will be able to eat, the Christmas toys, the Tamale baskets so that families can also celebrate Christmas., the shipments of clothes, shoes, school supplies, toys, books , blankets etc...the 1,001 things that you do to bring hope and happiness to so many impoverished people here in Guatemala. Thank you for spreading so much love and kindness with your generosity...thank you for giving hope to people who are often in hopeless situations and in need of a hand up. Thank you for the small miracles that you make happen every day. We are so grateful for all you do! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! Sharon Sharon Smart-Poage MAYAN FAMILIES a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity Website: www.mayanfamilies.org
So many of our students are graduating...it is such a joyous time for the families!
All our pre schools are having their graduation ceremonies.
Yesterday, the Panajachel Pre school...had their graduation.
It is our 4th graduation ceremony from our little pre-school.
25 students graduated!
It is a bitter sweet time.
Some of those students have been there since they were 3 years old and now they are moving onto elementary school.
One of them , little Walter when he came , he could not hear well and he could not speak.
We were able to get him medical care and he is now hearing well and is speaking fine ....this took several years of therapy..it wasn't overnight but it is a huge victory for him. Without having come to the pre school, he would not be going to school for the first time ...and not being able to speak.
All of the students that graduated are starting school with a huge helping hand.
They can all write letters and numbers, they can count, they can speak Spanish and they like learning.
Their parents were so proud!
They had all put in money to buy gifts for myself, Gloria, Sandra and the two Padrinos for the ceremony, Rachel and her husband, Daniel.
Then after the ceremony they presented us with a delicious chicken lunch.
It was a very special day.
I couldn't help but have tears in my eyes watching all those little ones moving onto the next step in their lives.
Today we are having our first Graduation from the Chukumuk pre school!
We are also very, very fortunate to have the wonderful people from the Nuestros Ninos group ( Angela, the group leader is a member of our Mayan Families Connection as well)
they will be coming with us to Chukumuk this morning.
They have a bag of food for each child to take home plus they have a blanket and a gift bag for each child!!!
This is going to be one very , very happy day for each of these families.
The families are so much in need of food in Chukumuk.
Nuestros Ninos has also made a special treat for each child, they have taken the photos off each student page and made them a Memory Book! How wonderful is that!!!!
They will then be installing 4 stoves in Chukumuk and then installing 5 stoves to the rest of the families in Aqua Escondido who do not have stoves.
We will have photos posted for you as soon as we can.
Also today the Jnr. High School in Tierra Linda is holding their special day when they will present all the work that they done through the year and they will also have a theatre performance and I am sure that they will be playing music with all the wonderful new band equipment that they have received.
Tonight we will be celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Mayan Families staff and volunteers.
Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.
There have been many updates and the need is great in order to allow these elderly people to have food to eat. Many of them have other needs as well and they really need sponsors to continue the feeding program.
Please spread the word to get help for them on facebook, your blogs, websites and email.
Megan from the Elderly Care Program asked me to post the following message on MFC for her.
Thank you! Bonnie
Feed Just One.
Our Elderly Care program feeds about 70 people per day at our locations here in Panajachel and the neighboring village of San Jorge.
For most of them, this is the only meal they receive all day. Some stretch their portion by saving half for the evening. For some, they are the only members of their family who get to eat that day. Others save half their meal for their wife, husband or families at home.
When I ask what they'd eaten that day, or what they might eat later, many answer: a single tortilla with salt. A single egg. A tomato. Nothing.
Some of our elderly live with their entire families in a single house. Some have nine children who have four or five children of their own. Food prices continue to soar, leaving those who cannot work in worse conditions than ever: the adults in the house must choose who gets to eat, their children or their parents. They must choose who gets to sleep in a bed, and who must sleep on the floor.
This should not have to be a choice. The Feeding Program provides a single meal a day to the elderly who otherwise would forfeit their food for the children, or who by their poor health would not otherwise be able to scavenge the trash for scraps or find other means to feed themselves.
Having spent their lives in desperate conditions during the last century of war, poverty, civil unrest and its constant repercussions, the elderly are still the last to receive relief in Guatemala. And having spent their lives struggling with the hope that someday things might get better, and being proven otherwise, they are grateful for even the smallest gift: one meal per day, five days a week.
By no means is one meal enough, but at the moment it is all Mayan Families can provide, and the program is in danger of being cut. Only those who are currently sponsored will continue receiving their one meal a day. The rest we will have to refuse; we will have to tell them that even this tiny, but necessary quantity of food will be taken from them, like so much has been taken from them throughout their lives.
Currently, only 13 of our elderly receive a monthly donation to help with food, medical costs, rent or other necessities. In an effort to ensure that all 70 of our elderly receive just one meal a day, not including purchased medicine, rent costs or other expenses, we are asking you to sponsor one for just $35 a month. We will continue to help our elderly for medicine and other needs per the extraneous donations we receive. However, $35 a month will provide one meal per day, five days a week, to one person who has no way to care for herself, whose family faces the daily impasse of feeding who they must raise or feeding who fought to raise them.
We are a 501.c.3 non-profit working to bring aid to the indigenous Mayan communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. We work on projects in community development, education, and disaster relief -- see a complete list of programs at MayanFamilies.org