Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A very special birthday!

We were touched when a mother from the U.S. contacted us regarding her son's 1st birthday. In lieu of gifts for her 1-year old, the mother has asked party guests to help one of our orphan families. She contacted us and asked for ideas of a specific family who really needed help. We suggested Olga (FA194) and her siblings, as they are all orphaned. The mother sent out invitations explaining how to donate for these orphans through Mayan Families. We thought it was a very compassionate and generous idea, so we just wanted to share it with you!
This is not the first time we've had people use their birthdays as gift offerings for Mayan Families. We are touched by everyone who has shared their birthday wishes with families here in Guatemala! What a great way to begin teaching children the gift of giving at a young age!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Visiting homes of sponsored students.

This is the face of poverty.
This is the reason we work so hard to help the students that we sponsor and their families.
These are very hard conditions to live with.
It takes such a little amount of money to be able to help lift people out of living in these conditions.
An onil stove costs $170 US.
A double bed with a mattress costs $170 US.
Cement floors can replace these dirt floors.
Roofs can be replaced so that the rain will not come in during the wet season and turn the dirt floors into mud.
Bring a group to volunteer, raise money to put in stoves...come alone, bring a friend, bring a lot of friends...we are happy to have you and the people who live in these conditions will be very, very happy to see you.

Happy kids at the Mayan Families Panajachel Pre-school!

The children at the Mayan Families Pre-school, Caritas Sonadoras, received their school supplies this week.
There is going to be a lot of pasting, coloring and fun going on at the pre-school!
The children have two meals, learn to get into the habit of brushing their teeth, take a vitamin tablet, get health check ups and get a head start on their education before they go to school.

Mayan Families visit to the Tierra Linda Preschool

We visited the Mayan Families pre-school in Tierra Linda this week.
It is the first week back for the students and the first week for many children to come for the very first time.  So there are a few tears and anxiety for the children who have never been away from their parents before but all the wonderful toys and the good food make the adjustment a lot easier.

If you would like to sponsor a child to go to one of our preschools....please go to
There are many children waiting to be sponsored!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Manuel and Santiago

Hi Everyone,
Manuel (A25) and Santiago (A75) are both in need of water filters. They cannot afford to buy purified water. A filter costs $63 and will give the family clean water for up to two years, when the filter will need to be replaced (for just $44). We have used these filters with many families and even our own Mayan Families staff and can attest to the clean, fresh water that these filters provide. Please consider giving a filter to these gentlemen today!
If you would like to make a one-time donation,please visit the Elderly Care Blog at:

Thank you!

Chukmuk Guatemala Preschool students need sponsorship!

Hi Everyone,
New Chukmuk preschool/nutrition center Students needing Sponsorship are Listed.

These children are all from very poor families and many of them are malnourished.

You can see their photos and read their bios at the following 2 websites.


Please continue to spread the word to help find sponsors for these children.

I am happy to let you know that all the previous preschool children that were listed earlier have now found sponsors!

There are still older students hoping for sponsorship and
#944 Rosa Lucia who lost her sponsor and needs sponsorship to continue 9th grade is still hoping to find a sponsor.
Here is her direct link for her sponsorship.

Thank you for spreading the word.

Maria Rosario in Guatemala

Maria Rosario is a mother of 3 girls who are sponsored by Mayan Families. She lives in San Jorge La Laguna with her husband and daughters.

The family owns a house in San Jorge, however last year during the rainy season, part of the land in front of the house fell and now the room they use as a kitchen is on the edge of a cliff. They are afraid that the house won't survive the next rainy season that is coming in few months, so they want to build a retaining wall.

Our construction staff visited the house and confirmed that without the wall the house will probably fall off the cliff.

The family will provide the labor, however, they cannot afford to buy the material, so they came to us for help. The material to build the wall cost $840.

For more information on how to help Maria Rosario and her family to keep her house safe, please visit:


Thank you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

First week of new administration

We have been disappointed so far with basic things here such as the govt. has not authorized new teachers.
There are about 50 schools in the Solola district that do not have new teachers assigned because the new govt. has come in and these things have not been authorized yet.   It is not to say that they are not going to do it ....just that they have not done it yet.  School started nearly 2 weeks ago.......we have had this problem in Tierra Linda. The last govt. guaranteed to send us teachers for the Junior High school if we provided the equipment, tables, chairs, books, white boards, computers, everything...we have done that ..thanks to the Upper Arlington Rotary Club ( Ohio) and no teacher came. This is because they do not have the new people in place who are able to authorize this. 
This left us in a very difficult situation.
After many, many calls and letters to the Dept. of Education they finally told us that they did not have the funds to pay for the teacher and had to wait for the new. administrator to take over.
No one can give us a time frame.
So we had a choice.....hire a teacher ourselves..which we were given advice by people with a lot of experience...would mean that the Dept. of Education would not send us a teacher because we had already provided one..... or if we did not send a teacher the children would have to leave the  school and try to get into a school that did have teachers...which meant that the Dept. of Education would not send us teachers because we did not have enough children to meet the quota of students needed to keep the classes going.
So in the end we decided to send one of the Mayan Families staff members there, Rodolfo, who is a qualified Jnr. High teacher to help out until the govt. sends us a teacher.
But because it is also a computer school..we also have to send a computer teacher twice a week, so fortunately , we have two staff members who have their degree in Computer science and they are able to go and teach the required curriculum.    But that leaves us shorthanded one staff member daily and another staff member 2 - 3 times a week.
Marco, another Mayan Families staff member  is also teaching computer classes twice a week in San Jorge at our Women's /Education center.  The Jnr. high school committee came to us yesterday from San Jorge as they are in a similar situation.  They are not able to receive funds from the Education dept. and have had to privatize the Jnr. High school to be able to keep it open.  This means that they are now scrambling for funds to try and pay the teachers wages.   They need $12,000 US to be able to pay the teachers wages for one year.  There are 7 teachers.
We have also received a request for help from the local hospital in Solola.
They have also not received funds and are in dire need of medicines.
They have asked us to help with funds to either buy the meds or have the meds donated.
They need basics like disposable gloves and other meds.
But we hope this is just problems with getting organized and that this new govt. will come through.
We have definitely noticed an increase in soldiers which is a throwback to the old days....but I am hoping that this is also just a precaution as the govt. changed over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zacapa medical news update

Hi everyone,
I haven't been able to get a real update.  Just some news from Sergio who is looking after the patients and doing a great job at it.
The last woman who turned up unexpectedly and we sent off with the other three, had her ultrasound and xray and from what I can understand has gallstones but they do not have space to operate on her in their busy schedule....so she is waiting to come back and we will see what we can do to help  her later.
I am told that Creencia had her operation but that they were not able to remove all the cancer. Now this is something that Sergio heard from the nurse and we don't know what this really means yet. 
The other two women have had their operations and are in recovery and as far as I know, doing well.
Apparently someone is going to call me tomorrow with more information.
I am really anxious to know what the situation is for Creencia and I am hoping that it will be some good news.
As soon as I hear more, I will let you know.
Sergio says it is really, really hot there.  Hard for a young man used to the mountains of the highlands.
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Monday, January 23, 2012

Update on Zacapa

Hi, I am pleased to let you all know that our patients arrived  at the clinic on Friday evening ...they were well taken care of by the COTA team.
They had accommodation in a salon and Saturday morning were among the first to be seen. 
We actually had an extra patient turn up at the last
minute....I am not sure if she is going to be operated on but they are doing an ultra sound on Monday to be able to see if it is necessary.

But the other three women are all scheduled to be operated on Monday morning first thing. One is scheduled for 6.30am. and the other two for 8.30am.

Sergio, the Mayan Families staff member who is accompanying the patients called to tell me the arrangements. He said the line was now very long
outside the hospital with people hoping to be seen.  I am sure the team will be very busy.

The doctor also confirmed the diagnosis of cancer for Creencia ....lets hope that there will be some good news for her after this operation.  As soon as I hear anything, I will let you know.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.  We are so fortunate to have you all behind us to make these miracles happen!  It really is a group effort!

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tamale baskets for Christmas!

These are just some of the families who were fortunate enough to
receive Tamale baskets this year.
We were thrilled to be able to give out over 1,300 baskets to needy
families who otherwise may not have been able to celebrate Christmas
by making their traditional tamales.
Each basket feeds a family of ten ....so thanks to you, we were able
to feed a possible 13,000 people for Christmas!
Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year!

An article about Mayan Families Canada!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goings on at Mayan Families!

Hi, we have been so busy with all the back to school excitement that I haven't had a chance to give you an update.
On Saturday , Don Hector who often drives visitors here in his tuk tuk, and America , our Panajachel pre-school teacher were married in a very lovely ceremony.
First they had the civil ceremony in San Andres....Dwight and I were the Padrinos for that ceremony. I was very stressed being half an hour late for the ceremony ( I had spent the night in Antigua and there had been traffic on the road)...of course, I should have realized it would be o.k.....when Dwight and I arrived we were still the first people there! The civil ceremony was very nice, all of America's family were there and several of Don Hector's family had come from the coast, including his mother who was probably in her late 70's.
The legal representative who performed the civil ceremony ....( which is very important in Guatemala...you are not married unless you have this ceremony) brought his ceremonial walking stick and at the time of the vows both Don Hector and America had to put their hands on the walking stick and take their vows. I have never seen that done before and it was very interesting.
Then they served a delicious lunch ....Dwight and I left ...going back to the office where there were hundreds of people on the grounds...getting their school supplies, their photos taken, letters being written, it was a hive of activity.
The church wedding started at 4p.m. and all the staff were invited but they could not leave. They eventually left around 6p.m. ....in the meantime, Dwight, Zoe and I went back for the church ceremony. Our 7yr old daughter, Aleeya decided she did not want to go to another wedding ceremony and she stayed at home. We drove back to San Andres for the wedding ...which is about 15-20 mins from Pana.
The wedding was held in the little Catholic church on top of a hill. It is a beautiful setting and the church was festooned with white cloth, flowers, candles and they had a lovely, lighted Christmas tree in a corner. There was a marimba playing with men in traditional clothing and the priest had a beautiful embroidered cloth he was wearing that had been made in the village.
After the ceremony....the couple walked down the hill followed by all their guests to the wedding reception.
They looked very , very happy and I think that they will be very happy together. They will be living at America's home. America's mother sobbed through the civil ceremony, through the wedding ceremony and during the reception. That was a bit surprising because they are going to be living in the same house....I am glad that America wasn't moving away!
We have been working 6 days a week, long hours, up till 8pm getting all the students their school supplies, their shoes, their backpacks.
There are long lines in our grounds all day.....the children are playing , we have the slide, the swings and thanks to you ride on toys , bicycles that the kids play with. Our daughter, Aleeya got a trampoline for Christmas and she has it here at the office grounds and the kids are loving that!
We have many people coming and asking for sponsorship for their children. But we explain to everyone that it is our obligation to first make sure that all the children from the previous year are sponsored and then we can try and find sponsors for others.
We are so happy and thankful to Shannon to have the Orphan blog up....now we can make sure that all the children who are orphaned are taken care of.
We have many children who are still waiting to be sponsored so if you have any body who has been thinking about sponsoring ....please ask them to think even harder about it right now...there is such a need!
We have two exciting pieces of news.
One is that Sandra, our social worker, gave birth at a healthy baby boy yesterday! He weighs about 8lbs.
Sandra was here working till she could not sit any longer in the chair...she was becoming too uncomfortable and stayed at home the last few days waiting for the birth.
Unfortunately, she had a very difficult time...and after 24 hours in labor , she had to have a cesarian. This is her first child....she is married to Fredy who is in charge of Micro Loans for Mayan Families.
The other exciting news is that we have received funding to open our 7th pre-school!!!
It is going to be in Chukmuk..where there is such a need for food for the children.
The Director of the school and the community has been asking us for over a year to please come and have a feeding program /pre-school for the children.
They have given us a room that is very large and rent free!
Thanks to a wonderful donation we received..we have had the teacher's wages covered for one year,
the gas for the stove and the electricity for one year, the stove , tables and chairs covered.
Thanks to your wonderful donations we have enough puzzles, educational toys, books to be able to equip the pre-school.
We will need to have the children sponsored and we will need to get the funds to pay the cook/assistant.
There is space for 50 children and the director would like us to have this amount of children.
But we only have funding for one teacher so we will try to limit it to 30 children....until we can afford a second teacher.
A teacher and an assistant are approx. $4,500 US per year each so if you know any individual, church or organization that would like to help, we would be thrilled to hear from them.
We hope to have the pre-school open in about two weeks. The children in Chukmuk ...which is near Santiago...are very malnourished and in need of food. This center which will provide food and an educational head start to these children will be a huge blessing for them.
Our program has been so successful in San Jorge...( this was our first pre-school/nutritional program that was started with the support of everyone in this group) that we have a list of children waiting to get in.
We are at the maximum of 37 children who can fit in the space that we have. So we have decided to move the Elderly Care program from the house we rented to the Community center (that we own) ...they will have the ground floor, the computer classes and the sewing classes will still be held on the 1st floor. The ground floor can still be used for meeting etc by the women in the afternoons.
So the children in the San Jorge pre-school will have the house that has two rooms...so we can now accept more children into the pre-school and they will have an outside area to play as there is a courtyard there for them.
The only problem is that the bathroom is really not good at the Elderly care program, it is just a latrine that is broken and is dangerous for the children to use. We are in need of putting in two toilets for the children....they will cost $517 for the two toilets to be built and installed. If anyone would like to donate a little towards this, we would be very, very grateful.
Once the bathroom is fixed , this will be a much better location for the children as there will be more room for them to play.
Some of the elderly people are reluctant to move over to the Community center because the pathway is a bit of a mess but we are hoping that we will be able to fix that and once that it is fixed then I am sure that they will be fine there.
Due to the amount of children in need we are opening another classroom in our pre-school in Panajachel.
So we are busy painting and decorating for the new pre-school.
We will now have 75 children in Panajachel who are eating two meals a day , five days a week and getting a head start with their education!
The San Andres pre-school that we partner with Mission Guatemala is having a facelift.
We have decided to divide the very large space into two classrooms one for the 3-4yrs old and another for the 5-6yrs olds. Tom has had bookshelves built to divide the classrooms and I am sure it is going to be great for the kids.
This is something that we have been talking about and working towards for a long time now.
We are bringing our sewing class, carpentry class and computer classes to one location and we are working on opening a trade school in Panajachel. We have a lot of ideas and a lot of enthusiasm and we hope that we will be able to have this open in a few months.
We will keep you updated as we go along.
As many of you know , we have an Animal program for spaying and neutering and we are often called on to rescue animals.
But this week end we had a very different kind of call.
Above Tierra Linda in the mountains some children had caught what they thought was a baby mountain lion.
The family called us to come and take it.
Susie and Augustin went up on Sunday and found a very terrified baby cub.
It turned out that it wasn't a baby mountain lion but a baby jaguar.!! A jaguar Undi.
It was the cutest little thing....brown, big eyes, rounded ears and was making a hissing sound that it hoped would make us all go away. It also had a strong growl for such a little one.
We contacted a group in Guatemala City ....they were very involved in helping the circus lion get a new home in the U.S. last week. We were able to get the little cub to this group quickly and they are now caring for it. There is even a chance that they may be able to get it to a zoo in the U.S.
We are working on the library that will be opened in memory of beautiful little Gabby Lewis who passed away last year. Gabby was just 8yrs old, adopted from Guatemala as a baby and the beloved daughter of Shane and Becky Lewis. Her family has decided that they would like to have a library in her memory and have directed donations in her honor to Mayan Families to make this a reality. We hope to have this open in the next few months.
Well, I think that you are up to date now on the goings on here.
Please remember that you are welcome to come and visit and /.or to volunteer.
We also need volunteers on a long term basis and also interns.
If you would like to come down as an individual or as part of a group, please let us know.
We love having you come to visit!

Baby Jose and his siblings.

Hi Everyone,

Many of you will remember the family FA114.

Their father passed away from throat cancer in July. Baby Jose was born with part of his bowel outside of his body last January and back then the local Dr. gave him little hope of living.

This family has had many medical bills for many months from the father and baby Jose.

Baby Jose's Siblings are #1930 Nasario, #1931 Marvin, and 1932 Juana.

Unfortunately all 3 of them have lost their sponsors for 2012 and are in desperate need of responsorship because of the family situation.

I received an update on their family from Laura today about Baby Jose.

Here is the update from Laura.

"Dina just talked to Dr. Peter and he said that baby Jose is now big and healthy enough to undergo surgery.  The hospital is too busy to help them as of now, but they are calling everyday to try and get him an appointment for surgery.  He also reported that he expects that Jose will only need one surgery to correct the condition." 

It is such good news to know that little Jose is still alive, doing well, and now strong enough for surgery. This also means yet another major medical expense for this family who has already been through so much debt.

#1930 Nasario and #1931 Marvin desperately need sponsorship to continue with their 1st year of University School. They are both majoring in Mechanics. Their sister #1932 Juana will be in 10th grade in 2012 if she finds a new sponsor.

If anyone can help this family toward their medical expenses for baby Jose or knows of anyone who may be able to sponsor these students for school in 2012 please click on the links below to help them.


#1930 Nasario Needs Sponsor for 1st year University, Family Aid Student FA114, Father passed away.

#1931 Marvin Needs Sponsor for 1st year University Family Aid Student FA114, Father passed away.

#1932 Juana Isabel Needs Sponsor for Junior High,  Family Aid Student FA114, Father passed away.

Any help for this family is very appreciated.

Please spread the word.

 Thank you to everyone who has helped this family in any way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Three orphans struggling to survive. FA 202

Julia, Walter, and Milton are three sweet kids from Panajachel who had the misfortune of losing their mother nine years ago, after facing a very difficult time watching their mother suffer from cancer.

After their mother's death, the father soon found a new wife and moved in with her and her family. After a while he stopped visiting the children and finally he left his mother in charge of the kids. Since then, they have been living with their grandmother that has always done her best to support and feed them.

Sadly, two months ago the grandmother passed away and the kids were left alone once again. Their aunt, the only family member they have left, decided she could not leave them alone and so she took them in, however, she has her own family to care for and having three more kids with her is becoming very difficult.
The aunt loves the children very much and she is very worried that she won't be able to feed them properly or send them to school next year.

The kids want to be with their aunt, but they fear that because of the lack of resources, she will ask them to leave and they have nowhere else to go.

If you want to help these orphans with any of the following items, please visit:


- One month of food - $150;
- A onil stove - $170;
- Traditional clothing for Julia, who has always worn second hand clothes - $150;
- New clothes for the boys - $45 each;
- Water Filter - $63
- Doors for the 2 bedrooms - $200 each door
- To re-wire the electricity - $535
- They also need help to build a small kitchen and a small bathroom

Thank you for any help you can give these orphans.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Students needing sponsorship in Guatemala with Mayan Families

Hi Everyone,
The 2012 school year will be starting very soon in January in Guatemala.
There are about 100 students needing sponsorship still listed in the Mayan Families Student Sponsorship and Family Aid programs with more students waiting to be added to the list.
These children are still very hopeful that they will find a sponsor to be able to go to school this month.

Please keep spreading the word so that we can make their wish come true for the upcoming school year.

For the complete public list of children still waiting, please visit:


Just click on the links of the students name to get to the students sponsorship page.

Please continue to spread the word by linking the above link on your websites, blogs, and email anyone you think who would be interested in giving these children the gift to be able to go to school to have a brighter future.

They are counting on us to help them. If we all spread the word, we can still find them sponsorship before school starts. Thanks a lot!