Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seminario project

Tomorrow our 17yr old daughter, Zoe is finishing her Seminario project.
This is a project that I have heard many students talk about but until I have lived through this project I never realized the depth or importance of it.
Seminario is a project that the whole class of 12 th graders have to finish.  If you do  not finish it , you do not graduate from high school. It is a Guatemalan educational requirement. 
It has to be done, in co operation, with all of the class or small groups inside the class.
It basically starts as soon as 12 th grade starts.  I know that Zoe was anxious about it before school even started.
Her class is extremely small ....there are five students graduating and she is the only girl!
Zoe attends an International school here in Pana and that is why she is about to graduate. Her school follows the U.S. calendar... Guatemalan schools are from Jan. to October.
Tomorrow , she and the four other students, have to be formally dressed, the boys in suits and ties, Zoe in pants, white shirt and suit jacket.  They have to present their project to the Dept,. of Education. They have approx. 25 people invited to the presentation.  They will find  out at the end of the presentation whether they have passed . If they fail, they will not be able to graduate from high school....so it is pretty stressful for them.  They have been in rehearsals now for three hours.  The presentation will take approx. 2 hours. 
Zoe and her friends all come from families that have been able  to send them to a private school.   They did not have any problems having the supplies that they needed for this project.
They were fortunate that the group from SAIT in Canada came down and wanted to work with them on the "Liter of Light" project which is what they chose to do for Seminario. 
The presentation is being held in the salon at Hotel Dos Mundos which happens to be owned by one of the parents.   None of them had to worry about not having shoes or the right clothes to wear for this presentation.
But my heart goes out to the students that we sponsor and all the other students who also have to do these projects.
They have to raise the money to buy their materials.  They have to have a lot of free time to be able to work on these projects.  It is months of work.  Most of these kids have to work part time to be able to pay for the needs of their schooling so it is a real hardship for them to have the free time, then they need the clothes to be able to go to the presentation, the families have to provide refreshments for the committee, the salon needs to be decorated. Then the families have to have the free time to come and watch the presentation.   Most cannot do that.  Then their are the costs for the graduation.    I sometimes feel that in some ways this is how the poor of Guatemala are kept down, they cannot afford to have higher education...and if by some stroke of good fortune, they do manage to make it through to 12 th grade ...after all the work they have done, this is like a huge obstacle course, many students drop out in 12 th grade because they just do not have the money to be able to pay these costs. 
Thank you to everyone who sponsors a student and makes it possible for them to continue  and overcome these obstacles.
Sharon
Sharon Smart-Poage
MAYAN FAMILIES
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Dominga has been to the hospital

http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-dominga-is-home.html 

Thanks to all of you Dominga has been to the hospital and has been operated. She was in the hospital for one week. I think that they removed part of her stomach as they told her that her stomach was now very small and she has to eat a lot of small meals regularly....like 8 times a day.
She is so grateful to everyone who has helped her....thank you for making this miracle happen for Dominga!
Sharon
Sharon Smart-Poage
MAYAN FAMILIES
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Video of a group who was just recently here, Catherine and her friends

Here is a happy video of a group who was just recently here, Catherine and her friends, please take a moment to enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr_MJFMFhi0&feature=g-all-u 
Please remember if you would like to come and do a service trip, alone, with friends, your church, Rotary...whatever group you have...we would love to have you!
Sharon
Sharon Smart-Poage
MAYAN FAMILIES
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Ingrid needs to see a specialist!


Ingrid with her 2 sisters

You may remember Ingrid Elizabeth, the 4 year old in our San Antonio preschool. She has been ill with some very troubling symptoms that, according to some medical professionals, are symptoms of leukemia.

Mayan Families has provided Ingrid with some initial blood exams, but we have received different diagnoses from different medical professionals and no one seems to really know what's going on. We're extremely worried about Ingrid and need to send her to a specialist.

We desperately need to get Ingrid to the capital so she can be examined by a specialist and we can find out what's going on. Her parents are willing to go, but they are very afraid. They've never traveled that far before and they don't speak Spanish. We will have a MF employee who is bilingual accompany them, and another MF employee who is knowledgable about the hospital go with them. The cost of transportation, to pay for the translators, and food for the family (as it will be a day long trip) is $130.

Please help us determine what illness this little girl has so we can find her proper treatment! To donate, please go to Donate Now and scroll down. Enter your donation in the "Other $" box. In the "Details" box, write "Ingrid Medical". Thank you so much!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cristobalina, the 15 year old who was electrocuted so badly that she lost both her hands and part of one of her feet.

You may remember Cristobalina, the 15 year old who was electrocuted so badly that she lost both her hands and part of one of her feet. Her determination and bravery inspire us all as she has overcome multiple surgeries and is now walking with prostheses! She is a very strong and committed young woman and we are honored to be part of her journey.

While she is slowly learning to use her prostheses, she needs physical therapy twice a week in Panajachel and once a month in the capital. Thankfully, all of her physical therapy sessions are free, but she has to pay all of her travel expenses. She lives in a remote village and week after week the transportation costs really add up. She's actually had to miss a few physical therapy sessions because her family just can't afford the cost.

She needs $128/month to cover all transportation costs for herself and a family member to accompany her. Please consider helping Cristobalina. Since she was on the blog we haven't received any donations for her and she has come to our office frequently asking for help. Anything you give for her would be a huge help. Thank you!

Mayan Families April/May 2012 Newsletter

Please click here! 

Send this along to anyone you know! This is how you can help us gain a greater audience to help the Indigenous rural poor of Guatemala!

A Library is coming together!

Hi everyone,
Just to clarify, we are not building a library....we are establishing one in one of the rooms at the Tierra Linda community center that we opened. 
We did not want to open the library for Gabby in a building we didn't own because then we would have had the situation that we may have had to move it.
So I talked to Becky and we decided to do it in a room in the Tierra Linda center....it is the second floor where the Tierra Linda Junior High is located. 
It is not a big room but it will be big enough for the time being.   We hope when we eventually finish the 2nd floor ( don't have funds for it right now so don't know when that will be )  ... the ground floor has the preschool, 1st floor the Junior High and now Gabby's library.   It is the 1st room at the top of the staircase.....the room is not big but thanks to Michael , our fantastic carpentry volunteer, there is now a little loft built in it so that kids can  climb up there with a book and spend time reading, there is an area below the loft that will be for smaller children, we have a very talented artist who is here right now who has painted a "magic garden theme" on the round table for the children and all the little chairs, about 6 of them are carved and painted with cartoon characters.  
We have a large verandah which will be used for the kids to arts and crafts and also they can take a book outside on the verandah to read.
There is absolutely nothing for the children to do in Tierra Linda so we know that this will become a highly sought after destination but we only have the funds for one teacher to be there ...who we hope will not only over see the library but also be able to help kids with their homework.....so we will have to limit it to 20 - 25 children per afternoon who will be able to come to the library....we are hoping we may have volunteers over the summer who could help out but the problem is with transportation.  It is the wet season and walking down the mountain on the wet, muddy paths in the rain is very dangerous and we do not always have a car we can send to pick someone up and we also have the same problem with the car, that in the rains, there are mudslides and rock slides and it can be dangerous to be on the road in the afternoon.  If we had a volunteer who would like to stay in Tierra Linda for a week at a time, then we could work that out. ...but in the meantime we will have to do the schedule on a roster for the children , so that the teacher is not overwhelmed.  
We are very excited about this and hope it should be open within the next few weeks.  We are still trying to find the right teacher and that is what is now the delay.  We have to have a man...because he will need to travel late in the afternoon...so he will need to have his own transportation like a motorcycle or not be afraid to walk the very long road alone.  It is not a situation, that a woman living here, would feel comfortable doing.

We are going to have a beautiful photo of Gabby on the wall and her story. 

We hope when we finish the second floor that the library will move upstairs and have a lot more space.   But I am not sure when that will be.
Thank you so much for the support with Gabby's library.....it will mean so much to Becky, Shane and Tucker ....and so much to the children of Tierra Linda!
Sharon

I am so proud of our student runners!

I am so proud of our students from the Tierra Linda Junior High school who participated today in the Half Marathon run.   They got up early and ran for half an hour to come down the mountain from Tierra Linda to Panajachel, it was very early before 6.am. when they left home, without breakfast and running down  muddy, wet, narrow foot trails with a steep drop on the side...they got here in time, we gave them sandwiches and gatorade,. ...they ran the half marathon and were in the first 50 to come in!!!   They are now , thanks to the rains this morning, very wet and in need of dry clothes before they go home.

Thank you for your support for making this possible!
Sharon
Sharon Smart-Poage
MAYAN FAMILIES
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Friday, May 25, 2012

Josefa, a single Mother of 10 in Guatemala

Hi Everyone,

Josefa is a single mother of 10 children. While her five eldest children are grown and have their own families to care for, she is still taking care of the five youngest.

Josefa has been through much grief in her life. She lost two children when they were babies as a result of fever and diarrhea and then she tragically lost her husband four years ago. She herself was never able to go to school to study and she now earns a living by back-strap weaving textiles and selling them on the street. 

Her youngest daughter, Juana, is five years old and was born with Down's Syndrome. After some breathing and heart problems, Josefa became worried and took her to the public health center. The doctor there told her that Juana has a heart murmur and needs further testing. Josefa wants to get further medical care for Juana and confirm the previous diagnosis with a private doctor, but she cannot afford it.

Josefa would like more than anything to take Juana to a private doctor. A consult costs $20. 

For more information on how to help Josefa take Juana to a private doctor, please visit:

http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/five-year-old-juana-needs-medical.html

Thank you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Liliana

Hi Everyone,
Liliana is a first-time mother of beautiful twin babies. The babies, Feliciano and Juan, are just over 1 month old. While this should be a time of rejoicing and happiness for Liliana, it is not. In fact, it's a very scary time for her and her newborn babies.

Liliana gave birth by C-section, and thankfully the babies were born healthy. However, a few days after giving birth, Liliana fell ill and was re-admitted to the hospital. She was operated on again. The doctors performed a hysterectomy. After this operation, the doctors believed her to have problems with her kidneys, but they didn't want to operate on her again. So they are currently treating her with some type of an apparatus to avoid a surgery.

Liliana is weak and afraid. No one really seems to know exactly what's wrong with her and she doesn't want to undergo any more operations. She is now under a great amount of stress, not only for her health but also because of their finances. In total, Liliana has a debt of $1,440. She has taken a loan from a family member, but needs to start paying off her debt soon.

The father of the twins abandoned Liliana when she became pregnant. She is a single mother, and obviously can't work to pay off her debt while she's in the hospital. In the mean time, she has had to move in with her mother, Josefina. Josefina came to us very concerned over her daughter and new grand-babies.

Liliana gave birth by C-section, and thankfully the babies were born healthy. However, a few days after giving birth, Liliana fell ill and was re-admitted to the hospital. She was operated on again. The doctors performed a hysterectomy. After this operation, the doctors believed her to have problems with her kidneys, but they didn't want to operate on her again. So they are currently treating her with some type of an apparatus to avoid a surgery.

Liliana is weak and afraid. No one really seems to know exactly what's wrong with her and she doesn't want to undergo any more operations. She is now under a great amount of stress, not only for her health but also because of their finances. In total, Liliana has a debt of $1,440. She has taken a loan from a family member, but needs to start paying off her debt soon.

The father of the twins abandoned Liliana when she became pregnant. She is a single mother, and obviously can't work to pay off her debt while she's in the hospital. In the mean time, she has had to move in with her mother, Josefina. Josefina came to us very concerned over her daughter and new grand-babies.

For more information on how to help this family with formula, medical expenses or food, please visit:

http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/newborn-twins-at-risk-of-malnutrition.html

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One student in Guatemala

One lucky student got a pair of shoes from her sponsor and others were happy to send letters with colorful pictures to their sponsors thanking them for their studies and for baskets of food received for Mother's Day.  This year we were fortunate to be able to give out almost 400 baskets of food, that made a possible 4,000 people who were able to have something more to eat over the Mother's Day celebrations!






Thanks to his sponsor...Luis now has a warm bed to sleep in !

Thanks to his sponsor...Luis now has a warm bed to sleep in !


Food...the biggest need in rural Guatemala

These are some of the families who were fortunate to receive food this week from their sponsors.  Food is the most requested need that our students and their families have.  The cost of food has risen, it is harder to find work, the wet season is starting and many people who work in the river sifting sand to sell for construction will soon not have work. It is impossible for them to work in the river in the wet season, the river floods and it is way too dangerous.















Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cristina in Guatemala with Mayan Families

Hi Everyone,

Cristina is desperate for help. Her husband had an accident where he slid down a cliff and was injured and in a lot of pain. He went to the doctor for his injuries and found out he also has diabetes. About 15 days ago he was operated on for a stomach illness in which they removed several masses from his stomach. Her husband is now bound to his bed and in terrible pain. He's still recovering from his fall and now his surgery. He also does not have any diabetes medication, which he urgently needs.

With an ill husband Cristina is trying to provide for their 4 children alone. But she only ever made it to first grade and finding work is a challenge. Two of their four children are in school and they just can't afford the school payments anymore. 

Wilmar is 10 years old and is in 3rd grade. Cristofer is 7 years old and is in 1st grade. Both boys enjoy going to school and learning new things. School is especially important for Cristofer, who is still learning Spanish. Both boys grew up speaking Kachiquel in their home.

Cristina came to us asking for help. Her husband is very ill and she can't afford to keep her children in school. 

For more information about how to help Cristina or if you would like to sponsor her children for school, please visit:
http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/please-help-cristina-and-her-family.html

Thank You!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sponsored students with their Mother's Day wishes!

These are just some of our very cute sponsored students with their Mother's Day wishes!






Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Update on Dominga, mother fighting cancer

We are so close to giving Dominga her life-saving surgery! We only need 16 people to donate $50 and we'll have enough money! Please consider helping this mother survive her stomach cancer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dominga has hope with help!

Sometimes, as a fund-raising volunteer, there are stories that are an easy to sell.  Young kids, parents struggling to raise young families, and even wise, frail, wise ancianos can pull at the heartstrings of strangers, even from thousands of miles away.  And then there are the tougher cases.  Single adults, or parents, not yet frail and helpless, whose children are grown.  Many older indigenous men and women tend to be stoic in front of a camera, and the donations come slower when they, rather than their children or their parents, are in danger.  These cases are always the hardest as a volunteer, because from a few feet away it is always easy to feel real, wrenching tragedy, even when you know it will be near impossible to communicate.
Dominga is one such case.  She is just 50 years old, and a mother seven times.  She has a cancerous tumor in her stomach, and though it is slow-growing and curable, she cannot live if it is not removed.  A wonderful medical NGO, Wuqu' Kawoq, has been working along with Mayan Families to care for Dominga, but the surgery she needs will still cost $1670.  The tumor has made her very ill, and she has been admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis, but things are at an impasse until she--or we--can raise the money for her surgery. 
After struggling through poverty all their lives, Dominga and her husband, Juan, have managed to keep their youngest children, Rodrigo, 13, and Ana Patricia, 11, in school with the help of Mayan Families.  They are the first in their families to learn to read and write, and Dominga has worked hard for many years in hopes that they would have this chance.  This Mother's Day, I hope that you will consider making a donation, big or small, to make sure that Dominga is here to see her children graduate.  I can't offer a beautiful, sad picture of an innocent face, but I hope that you will see in Dominga a difficult but dignified life--a life worth saving.
If you would like to Donate to Dominga's care, please go to Donate Now and scroll down.  Enter your donation in the Other $ box.  In the Details box, write #41 Dominga Medical.  Even a small donation will bring us one step closer to preventing this tragedy.

http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateOnline

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dominga

Dominga is the mother of two of our sponsored students, Rodrigo,13 and Ana Patricia, 11 and has been very ill.  For years, the family did not know what was wrong with her and very recently was told she was dying.  However, the family recently received hope that Dominga's illness is a slow-growing, curable cancer in her stomach.  She just started treatment and last Monday was admitted to the hospital of a cancer center in Guatemala City for emergency surgery.  She needs to have the tumor from her stomach removed as soon as possible, but her family is unable to pay for her care.  After a week in the hospital, she is finally able to be operated on but the surgery she needs has a total cost of $1670. 
Dominga's possibilities to continue treatment depend on whether or not we are able to raise these funds.  Her cancer is curable, but the exams and treatments she needs are very expensive.  Dominga and her family struggle to cover even their basic expenses and even though there are working family members, they will never be able to come up with the money for her treatments.  If 23 people contribute $75, we will raise more than enough to cover this surgery and give hope to a very beautiful family.
Please help us to save the life of this mother who is only 50 years old!
Here is the link to the blog post about Dominga and photos of her family: http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-domingas-cancer-is-curable.html
Sharon Smart-Poage
MAYAN FAMILIES
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

http://familyaidprogram.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-domingas-cancer-is-curable.html

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Today in Guatemala is Dia del Madre or Mother's Day.

Today in Guatemala is Dia del Madre or Mother's Day.
It is a big day here!
Celebrations have been going on all week.  
All the schools have celebrations...children making crafts and then the big day when their mothers come, there is food and activities!
All 7 of the Mayan Families pre-schools have been busy this week. 
Monday our pre school in San Jorge celebrated with a lunch for the mothers.
Yesterday our pre-school in San Andres celebrated with their mothers...the children made beautiful baskets for their mothers and they all wore traditional clothing and danced!
Wednesday they also celebrated in El Barranco!
Today they are celebrating in the San Antonio pre -school. 
Friday, they are celebrating in Panajachel, Tierra Linda and Chukumuk pre schools. 
Yesterday they local mayor and the council had dancing in the streets, big trucks with very big loud speakers and mothers in fancy dress dancing behind them.
Today the morning started very early...4.38.am.  big fireworks went off blasting everyone out of their sleep.
Then a group of musicians were  in the street in our neighborhood serenading ....that was very nice....but then they had competition from the very large truck with the very, very large speakers that started cruising the area...with competing love songs about mothers.
Followed by the Bomberos ( paramedics /first responders) with sirens and other cars with horns tooting, followed by more fireworks. 
Things have calmed down a little now but there  is sporadic fireworks going off in the distance. 
We, at Mayan Families will be packing bags of food ready to put into the baskets that will be given out tomorrow.
We  hope to have enough for each orphaned family of children to receive a basket and we want to give a toy or a piece of clothing or shoes to each orphaned child when they come in. It's hard enough for them not to have a mother but on Mother's Day , I can only imagine how awful it is for them.  We still need more baskets of food so that each family of children in our Orphan program can receive a basket.
We will be giving out baskets tomorrow...and bags of food for the elderly.
There is still time to get your order in...or please spread the word to your social networks....and post this notice...even one more basket for just one family ...means so much to them. 
Thanks and Feliz Dia del Madre!
Sharon

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