Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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 dog...is a great cause for celebration....now 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 .....it was hard enough for them when the father was providing the little that he could....now it is going to be very, very difficult for them.

This morning at the bright and cheery hour of 3.am., 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 ...it 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 today......so 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

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