Saturday, October 27, 2012

General Medical Fund helps severly Ill Children

If you are a parent you may know the terrible anxiety of having your child ill ......and worse hospital.  But imagine if your child is ill, they are in hospital...and the hospital does not have the medicines you need..and you don't have the money to buy the medicines.  This was the awful situation for these  two mothers this week.  
Thanks to your donations Mayan Families was able to help them. 
Next week , we will have other mothers who will be in this situation.   
Imagine if this was your child.  No medicines. 
Please help us to help them with a donation to our General Medical Fund
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Mayan Families Elderly program feeds 70 elderly people a week

The Mayan Families Elderly program feeds 70 elderly people, Monday through Friday, 5 days a week.
Once a month they have a medical evaluation to see how they are going .
We have medicines donated that can help with the average pains and aches.
We try to make sure that each of the Elderly people in our program  have their basic needs met....That they have a bed, a mattress, sheets, a blanket, a pillow , a warm jacket. 
We give them daily food , five days a week..and basic medical care from donated medicines.  
Sometimes they need more.  Like diapers....we have one elderly gentleman who is having a problem with his prostrate.
He has to wear diapers. Disposable diapers are expensive in Guatemala.  His family cannot afford them. He doesn't have anyone who would wash cloth diapers for him.  The last few weeks he has had to wear pieces of a rough fabric from bags that hold corn and rice. 
This is very uncomfortable for him.  
We appreciate any donations for  disposable diapers for adults. 
Please consider sponsoring an elderly person to be able to eat one meal a day.
Contact  or make a donation donation is to will help..

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gabby Lewis Memorial Library

October-23-2012, we open the Gabby Lewis Memorial Library in Tierra Linda.
It will be a bittersweet time for me.
I have never met Becky, ( Gabby's Mom) or Shane,( Gabby's Dad) or little Tucker, ( Gabby's brother) but I feel like I know them.  They were sponsors before the terrible tragedy that took 8 year old Gabby's life a year ago now. 
Since then, like many of you, I have read Becky's heartbreaking posts as she and the family try to learn to live without Gabby.
Thanks to the donations that they have sent in Gabby's honor this library will be opening tomorrow in Tierra Linda.
It is small but it will have a huge heart.....a lot like Gabby! 
There will be lots of activities for the children to do.
There is no other place in Tierra Linda for the children to play with toys, use computers, read books  or do craft projects. 
School is now on vacation and most of the children in Tierra Linda have to work in the fields or help at home but I think that this library will give them a great place to go and spend some precious time enjoying themselves, learning and exploring.
There is a big photograph of a beautiful, smiling Gabby on the wall. ......a little girl who left us way too soon but who has made such a big impact on so many people.
At Guatemalan time..we will be showing Gabby's photo to the people who are there for the opening... and telling them the story about Gabby,  ................and her family and friends who have made this library possible in her memory .... we will post the photos of the opening as soon as we can.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It was a great surprise to receive this wonderful box of teddy bears!!!
Over 200 brand new cute little bears just waiting to be hugged as Christmas presents!
Thank you so much for these bears ...we really appreciate them so much!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grateful for help with Diabetics in Guatemala

We are really grateful for any help for diabetics.  We have a monthly meeting of the Diabetic is not often enough but it is what we can do for the time being.    We have about 60 people who are diabetic come every month, they have their blood tested...yes, just once a month ...I know it is not enough..but we just do not have the funds....and then we give them a healthy snack..and then they have a talk from a medical person ..
Often when people are diagnosed with diabetes here, they feel it is a death sentence.  They can become very depressed.  We have had pyschologists come and talk to them. We have had other people who are living with diabetes talk to them.  But it is very hard. Quite often, if  the person cannot afford the is a death sentence.
We have people who have insulin and save it to use a little when they are feeling bad...they feel better, and then take it again only when they feel worse. This is not good but it is the only thing that they can do.
We often have people coming to the clinic whose blood sugar is over 500. and they have no medication.
The other problem is the diet that they are given ....many of these people are eating beans, tortillas and rice..they can't afford anything it can be hard to change the diet to be able to  help themselves.
We really appreciate any help for the people in the Diabetes Club....thank you so much!
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

300 year old murals in an old house!

300 year old murals in an old house!
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day of the Dead or All Saints Day

On November 1st it is Day of the Dead or All Saints it is more usually referred to here in Guatemala.
It is a very big day here in Guatemala. 
Shannon who is a member of Mayan Families Connection who volunteered here this year working on the Orphan Program has suggested that we should do baskets of food for the orphaned children for All Saints Day so that they can have something to be able to participate in the activities honoring their parent/s who have  passed away. 
Usually families go to the cemetery taking special food...which consists of corn, quisquil , squash and a round of panela...which is like a raw sugar that is used to cook some of these foods, they also make poliq which is a special dish that is eaten on this day....but you need chicken and carrots to be able to make this dish. 

Most of the children in our orphan program will not be able to participate in this celebration because they just do not have the food to do so.

The graves  are painted and this time of year, families gather at the grave sites to decorate, they put photos of their loved ones on the grave and the family all gathers to eat and share memories.  ..This also costs money......the children will need a can of paint and a paint brush to paint the grave.....the can of paint and the paint brush cost money that the children will not have.
We have 30 families of orphaned children. .....who are being raised by grandparents, uncles and aunts, older siblings and one family who is being cared for by the neighbor who lives next door.    It is a hardship on all these caregivers to be raising these children and it will not be possible for them to cover these added costs.

If you would like to help one of these families of orphaned children to be able to go to the cemetary and honor their parent/s ......the cost of the basket of food including a can of paint for the grave...( it has to be oil paint or otherwise it will run in the rain ) plus a paintbrush...and then the food for the familly to eat at the graveside...which is the custom.    
With your help...we can make this day a little brighter for the orphaned children.   
The cost of the baskets are $52.....we need just 30 for the orphan families.......but if you would like to send one of these baskets to your sponsored student who may have also lost a loved one..we will be happy to do that as well. 
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Back at work in Guatemala!

Hi everyone,
Our offices re opened yesterday morning after a four day long week end celebrating the annual Patron Saint of Panajachel....St. Francis.
The carnival is packing up its Ferris wheel and all the rides and booths.....there are still several drunks lying in the streets...and a mound of trash that the Muni workers were very quick to clean up.
We have been fortunate that the heavy rains waited until the day after the big band competition...a very exciting event for many of the people in town.  The open air stadium was packed on Saturday as school bands from Panajachel and many other parts of Guatemala competed in the Band Competition.    The band from Panajachel won the high school competition and amongst huge cheering and fireworks, accepted a big trophy and they are now off to compete in the National Championships.  They chose the theme ...Phantom of the Opera ..and did a great job of it.
Since Sunday it has rained heavily .  October is often the heaviest rainfall of the wet season . This wet season has been very mild but October is not going out without a bang.....there have been several mudslides on the roads, we have had to start sandbagging for the first time this wet season ...on the street outside our house.

I am happy to say that Lety , our social worker for the Family Aid program who was operated on over the week end, is recovering well and is now back at home.  She will probably not be back at work for several weeks, it was a major operation, she had her gall bladder removed but she had other complications.

Mondays are always busy at Mayan Families.  We have to send food to each of the Pre schools and the Elderly Care program in various villages.... Mayan Families Staff member, Susie , accompanied volunteer/sponsor Marta on the run to the San Jorge, Tierra Linda and El Barranco schools.

We had Education Program and Family Aid program meetings...and we all tried to catch up with our emails....which was made very difficult by the electricity going in and out and finally went out for a good part of the afternoon....caused by an apparent mud slide that knocked a transformer out and left the whole town without electricity.

We had one of our puppies adopted out ...we have about 15 puppies looking for homes , so having one find a home...and it looked like it would be a good home, the people were very loving with the a great cause for we just need homes for the rest of the puppies!

We still have the young dog that is now mostly blind....he was hit on the head by some one hard enough that it ruptured all the blood vessels in his eyes and has caused him to lose his sight. He still has some slight vision in one eye.  He is a lovely dog and we hope that someone will want him but in the meantime he has made himself at home and is doing well.

We arranged for a new teacher to come for an interview for the position to run the Gabby Lewis Library that we are opening soon.  This has been a long process because it has been so difficult to find a teacher who would be able to go to work in Tierra Linda.   We had requirements that it had to be a male teacher, ( it is too dangerous for a female teacher to be going home alone on the mountain roads often by foot) and he had to speak Kakchiquel, had to have his own transportation or be willing to get his own transportation ie: motor bike...and had to have an easy going personality while being able to maintain control of the library.  We want the children to be able to enjoy themselves but we also need it to be an environment where students can sit and read, use the computer, get help with homework etc.     We are very hopeful that the teacher today is the right person and if so, we will be able to open next week!
We have the beautiful photo of Gabby Lewis ready to hang on the wall... ....I can't help but be sad when I see her lovely face....Gabby for those of you who don't know her, was a beloved 8 year old daughter and sister ...who was adopted from Guatemala when she was a baby. She was tragically killed in a car accident last year.  Her family wanted to do something to help the children of Guatemala and this library will be such an amazing place for the children of Tierra Linda.  It is only a very small room and a verandah to start with but we are hoping one day that we may be able to finish the 2nd floor and have a much larger space.

Last night...I got the sad news that the father of two of our sponsored children passed away unexpectedly. 
He was the father of Jose , 8yrs old  #1167 and his 10yr old sister, Roxana  #677.
The father, Vicente, who was 52 years old. ...had an accident when he was in his 20's and it caused a lot of damage to his leg...eventually he had to have it amputated. But he was  a good man who tried his best to feed his children. He got up every morning early and went to the lake to catch small fish....these are really, really small fish.  This is what the family lived on....and what was left over his wife would take door to door and sell so that they could buy their corn.
They have had a hard life....they had 9 children...raised in just two rooms, just one bed  and  cooking over an open fire...
Most of the children are now adults and have married but the the 15 yr old boy lives at home, he works as a builders assistant.
There is a 12 year old girl who has never gone to school because the family could not afford it ...and then the two children who are sponsored.
Vicente never drank alcohol and worked hard to provide the meager living for his family.  It appears that he must have had a heart attack as he was not sick.
His family is devastated was hard enough for them when the father was providing the little that he it is going to be very, very difficult for them.

This morning at the bright and cheery hour of, Mayan Families staff members, Laura and Eddy left to take a group of students and their families to the city hospital.
Norma is a little 5 year old girl with special needs.   She is having convulsions and we have never had a definite diagnosis on her situation so we are hoping from the tests that we can get this diagnosis and get the meds that she needs. Norma's grandmother has custody of Norma as her mother is unfit to care for her. Isabel used to beat Norma, with hold food from her and she was often kept in the dark in a small room. The court wanted to remove Norma from the family but the grandmother said that she would take custody of her...the court awarded temp. custody to the grandmother but under the supervision of Mayan Families.  The grandmother has the two older girls as well.  The grandparents are elderly and caring for Norma is a full time job...thanks to a wonderful sponsor who provides food for this family...they have enough to eat and Norma has diapers.  This makes a very difficult situation a lot easier for the grandmother.  We also make sure that Norma has therapy once a week ...and since the grandmother took custody of her and we have been managing her therapy....Norma can now walk!
This is something that she could not do two years ago.

We also have Ricardo  who is 12 years old  going in for more treatment. He is seeing a neurologist but he also needs blood transfusions today....Mayan Families staff member, Laura and her boyfriend, Sam are going in to give blood.    It is not easy to find people who will give blood in Guatemala....often people will only do it if they are paid for it...costing approx. $50 has to be a huge incentive as people are very scared to give blood.... If a patient at the hospital does not have someone who is willing to give blood then they have to pay the hospital for it and it is very expensive.

The family is fortunate that Laura and Sam are donating their blood.

The little girl Odilla whose arm was fractured and set very badly is also going back in for more treatment today. If Odilla and her mother had not come to us for help, Odilla's arm would have probably been painful and unable to function for the rest of her life.

Kristen from our Family Aid program who made an emergency trip back to the U.S. on Thursday is returning if  you  have been waiting for an answer from Kristen, we apologize but  it should not be too much longer.

We are excited today as the first students for our Carpentry Workshop begin their 10 week course!
There are  five young men who have either been  sponsored students or are siblings of sponsored students and we have three fathers of  sponsored students who are starting this course.
We wanted to start the first course with less students than we anticipate that the next course will have. 
We are planning to have things to sell from the Carpentry workshop and will post photos as soon as we do .

Thank you for your support, we couldn't do it without you!

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

At 3:30 A.M. yesterday morning

3.30 a.m. our first pick up truck left to go to the city to take Dominga, the mother in her 40's who has cancer for her next chemotherapy....she is apparently doing very well and the doctor is hopeful that she will continue to do well.

Also going along in the truck is Michael, our fabulous Carpentry School Volunteer Director and the Carpentry teacher, Reynaldo. They are taking a big piece of machinery into the city to have it repaired.  There is only one day a week the mechanic can be there to repair this piece of equipment and they both want to make sure that it will get done correctly.

At at our new offices...we have Sara and her special needs daughter, being picked up by another organization and being taken to her appointment in another area of the city.
Sara and her daughter, Ixtabalan ( pron. Ishtabalan)  spent the night in a room that we now have for just such a situation.  It has two beds and we can have people stay overnight for medical trips etc.
Sara's daughter, Ixtabalan became brain damaged when she was a baby. She was taken to the hospital with a respiratory problem and put on oxygen. Sadly no one noticed when the oxygen ran out and the baby became brain damaged.  The mother, Sara who is a single mother has always been devoted to her daughter and looked after her to her best ability.  Ixtabalan is now in her early 30's and has been having a lot of convulsions.  She wears diapers that Mayan Families supplies to her ..and we have a sponsor that helps them with a little food.  The other organization, that deals only with special needs patients ...has recently lost their funding and have had to let many patients go...but Sara is lucky ....they have told her that they will be able to keep supplying Ixtabalan with her much needed medication.  Today Sara will find out that the operation that she hopes will stop the daily convulsions will become a reality or not.

At 8.m. our second truck will leave for Chukumuk which is across the lake near Santiago. It is a an hour to an hour an half to get there. We hope the road will be open because there was a big mudslide yesterday that blocked the back road out of Panajachel.

Laura and Sofia from the School Sponsorship Program will be going to Chukumuk to interview the students we have there. 
We also have a preschool there and today they will be celebrating " Children's Day".  Each preschool has received chuchitos....which is a delicious traditional food is corn masa that has a small piece of chicken and gravy embedded in it and then it is wrapped in a corn leaf and steamed.    Everyone loves chuchitos and they are easy to transport. The woman who makes them for us here in Panajachel will be dropping them off at our office at and so they will be delivered by for the children's celebration meal. They will also be drinking horchata...a rice based drink, and have jello in little bags that were made and frozen in the refrigerator.
We used to have cake for these celebrations but we just cannot afford it this year .
Each child will receive a little stuffed toy a beanie baby    With great dismay we realized this week that we have come to the end of our supply of Beanie Babies...if  you have any second hand toys or stuffed animals lying around, please remember we have a great need for them.

We have a meeting today to talk to Josh ( this is Elizabeth's brother for those of you who have been here and met Elizabeth ) he has been here working on our Micro loans project for the past month and will be leaving tomorrow. He will be giving a presentation of his findings and suggestions.

We also have a meeting with another volunteer, Emilia who has been working with us for the past 6 weeks. She is a psychologist and is very interested in working on Woman's Empowerment issues.

We are so grateful to the volunteers who come down with their enthusiasm, ideas and talents!

Lety, who is the Social Worker /Director of the Family Aid program will be facing an operation today.
Lety who is a young mother has been suffering for some time with kidney stones and has tried to ignore it and hoped it would go away.
She did not want to leave her baby, her job or have the problem of the financial difficulties of paying for an operation.
But the situation became very bad on Sunday night and she was in terrible pain. She was rushed to a small, private hospital in Solola where they have the equipment needed, such as a ultra sound machine....  ...and I don't know what else but the public hospital did not have it.......and she will be operated on today.
Her husband , who is a waiter and working in another town over 2 hours away, has only one day a week off and he arrived late last night to be with her.  He is worried that he will lose his job and then they will not be able to pay off  the $1,300 needed to pay for the operation.
Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers is always a risk to have an operation but to have one here a little more of a worry.

The celebrations and processions and parades continue ....the streets near Mayan Families are full of carnival rides, street stalls selling all sorts of goods and special fair foods!
Music is playing, fireworks are going off and it the roads are mostly blocked.  We will probably not be able to move our cars out of the offices tomorrow.
Tomorrow , Thursday is a public holiday. There is a big band coming from Mexico tonight to play at the municipal salon.....there is  an indigenous procession leaving the church at 5p.m.
The Saint for Panajachel is St Francis
The very old Catholic church is a beautiful building is full of flowers and candles now...and at night is completely lit up.  It is just beautiful.
I was surprised to see some photos recently that showed that the Catholic church in the 1940's was just a shell, there was really only the facade at the front...and one priest came along,....and took on the project of restoring the church . It was a huge job and took many years . This priest died last year...he must have been so proud of accomplishing such a huge task and restoring this church ..which today is the Catholic spiritual and social center of Panajachel.

Here is a link to some great photos taken and posted on facebook. I don't know who took them but he/she really captured the parade two days ago.
Our Panajachel preschool is Caritas Sonadoras and they used the circus theme with all the kids dressed as clowns and animals.  They were very cute.
Our daughter, Zoe was chosen to be Senorita Cultura  ( Miss Culture)     this year and she has been in every parade so far and has the blisters to prove it!   ( the girls ( senoritas )  do the parades in high heels!!...if you have walked on these streets you know that they are hard enough to negotiate with runners on !)

A few days ago I posted about Catarina...a single mother of 5 children who has been selling the tin roof of her kitchen, piece by piece to be able to buy food for her children.
Her dream was to be able to open her own tortilleria....a little place where she could sell tortillas and that way she would be able to have her children with her.
Today, thanks to a wonderful donation from a very generous person, we are buying her a stove and setting her up in her own little business!!!!  We hope this will be the start of life getting much better for Catarina and her children.

Thanks for your means so much to us.
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity