Saturday, September 29, 2012


Every year students who are in 11th and 12th grade have to do a process called a "practica",  Which means that you have to go and work at a local business, school, hospital etc getting practical experience in the work world. The placement is about two months.

We have discussed this before that this places pressure on students and families...  They need to have a special outfit to be able to participate in this process. 
They have to have bus fares etc to be able to get back and forth from where they are placed and they often cannot do the work they do before or after school because this is a full time position.  This causes a lot of stress on the family as many of the students work part time to be able to cover their extra costs of transportation, lunch and extra school requirements.

One of our students, Odilla, approx. 17 years old, is doing her placement at a local school.
She was brought to the offices last week because she fainted at the school. When she revived the director of the school questioned her about what could have caused this and Odilla started sobbing.
We got her medical attention and the doctor said that the only problem with Odilla was stress and depression. He suggested that we give her anti anxiety tablets to help her overcome her depression.
But we felt that the cause of this depression was something that could be alleviated with help.  So we refused to get the prescription but we are now trying to help Odilla with her situation.

Odilla is one of 12 people living in 2 rooms.
She is the oldest girl but she has several older brothers who have not studied.
They have been very critical of the time that Odilla is taking to study when they feel she should be working around the house.
When she goes to the internet store to do her homework , they accuse her of running out to meet boys....which we have investigated and feel confident that she is not doing this.
They have gone so far as to make sure that on the nights that Odilla has to do homework...which is really every night, they refuse to let the mother give her dinner.
Unfortunately,in this society ..the older brothers have the right to make decisions about the family and the household.   There is no father in this home.

One of the problems that was facing Odilla at this time, was that she did not have the money to buy the materials she needed to be able to do a project for school. She needed to turn this project in or else she would lose points from her final exams.   She was very stressed as to how to manage this with no money , and not being able to work. We were able to solve that problem for her immediately and gave her the materials that she needed.

Now this family is very poor, they really do not have enough to eat.
When I asked Odilla what she would eat for breakfast she told me a tortilla and  a black coffee....( the coffee that the indigenous people drink is black and very sweet and it is also very, very mild.) ....for lunch ...she doesn't  have any money to bring with her to eat lunch so she goes without till she goes home.
With her brothers often refusing to let her mother give her anything to eat....Odilla's health is really suffering. She is very thin.
Odilla told me that her mother often minds a little food for her and gives it to her when her brothers are not around. But there are nights when she doesn't get to eat.

Odilla's mother is very supportive of her studies and wants her daughter to succeed.
Three weeks ago , Odilla had to miss a week of school because she does not have the bus fare to be able to leave her village of San Andres and come to Panajachel where her school is located.
This is a young girl who is very stressed, very sad and very hungry but who is determined to get ahead in her life.
She works after school washing dishes so that she can make some money to pay for her bus fares and her extra school costs and give a little to her mother.
But now that she is doing her practical experience at a local school, she cannot work in the afternoons and does not have this extra money.
She is studying to become a teacher.
She said that she is going to be so happy when she graduates as a teacher and can help support her mother ...and can show her brothers that she was not wasting time.
But she has a long way to go .

Her sponsor is not able to help her anymore than he is already doing with her studies.

But we need help to be able to feed Odilla. We have told her that she can come to the Mayan Families office every day and have lunch with the Elderly Care and Orphan Care program...but we need a sponsor for Odilla.   $28  a month will pay for her to have lunch 5 days a week  for the whole month.
$10  will give Odilla her bus fares for a week so that she won't have to miss any more school.
Any amount would help her to have some food at home.  If she is bringing in some food to the family home, then the brothers cannot stop her from eating.
If you can possibly help Odilla ...  she would be so grateful.  


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

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