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 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. 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 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 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!

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