Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A story about Guatemala

A story about Guatemala!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Earthquake relief!

On this Thanksgiving....I am thankful that my children have a warm bed in a comfortable house.  But not everyone is so lucky.
These children are victims of the recent earthquake. Their house has fallen down and they are living and sleeping in this makeshift shelter.
Their family does not have the money to rebuild.
These children are sleeping outside. It is very cold in the highlands of Guatemala ...and they are sleeping outside on their thin foam mattresses with just a few blankets. 
We would like to build them a small room to get them out of the bitter cold. 
For $2,500...we can build them a one room  block house that will give them shelter from the cold.
For $4,500 we can build them a two room house that will help the whole family.
Please consider helping with just a small donation....from many small donations ...a miracle can happen for this family.
Please send your donation to and mark it for Earthquake relief. 
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Happy THanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the people who make the work of Mayan Families possible. Thank you for all the children you send to school, the people you have sent for medical /dental care, the wheel chairs, the beds, the chairs, the tables, the homes you have built, the land you have purchased, the birthday cakes that give joy, the baskets of food that bring tears of happiness and relief
to mothers who know, that for this day, their children will be able to eat, the Christmas toys, the Tamale baskets so that families can also celebrate Christmas., the shipments of clothes, shoes, school supplies, toys, books , blankets etc...the 1,001 things that you do to bring hope and happiness to so many impoverished people here in Guatemala.
Thank you for spreading so much love and kindness with your generosity...thank you for giving hope to people who are often in hopeless situations and in need of a hand up.
Thank you for the small miracles that you make happen every day.
We are so grateful for all you do!
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It is Graduation time!!!

It is Graduation time!!!!!!!!!!!

So many of our students are is such a joyous time for the families!
All our pre schools are having their graduation ceremonies.
Yesterday, the Panajachel Pre school...had their graduation.
It is our 4th graduation ceremony from our little pre-school.
25 students graduated!
It is a bitter sweet time. 
Some of those students have been there since they were 3 years old and now they are moving onto elementary school.
One of them , little Walter when he came , he could not hear well  and he could not speak.  
We were able to get him medical care and he is now hearing well and is speaking fine ....this took several years of wasn't overnight but it is a huge victory for him. Without having come to the pre school, he would not be going to school for the first time ...and not being able to speak.
All of the students that graduated are starting school with a huge helping hand.
They can all write letters and numbers, they can count, they can speak Spanish and they like learning. 
Their parents were so proud! 
They had all put in money to buy gifts for myself, Gloria, Sandra and the two Padrinos for the ceremony, Rachel and her husband, Daniel. 
Then after the ceremony they presented us with a delicious chicken lunch.
It was a very special day. 
I couldn't help but have tears in my eyes watching all those little ones moving onto the next step in their lives.
Today we are having our first Graduation from the Chukumuk pre school!
We are also very, very fortunate to have the wonderful people from the Nuestros Ninos group (  Angela, the group leader  is a member of our Mayan Families Connection as well)
they will be coming with us to Chukumuk this morning.
They have a bag of food for each child to take home plus they have a blanket and a gift bag for each child!!!
This is going to be one very , very happy day for each of these families. 
The families are so much in need of food in Chukumuk.
Nuestros Ninos has also made a special treat for each child, they have taken the photos off each student page and made them a Memory Book!  How wonderful is that!!!!
They will then be installing 4 stoves in Chukumuk  and then installing 5 stoves to the rest of the families in Aqua Escondido who do not have stoves. 
We will have photos posted for you as soon as we can.
Also today the Jnr. High School in Tierra Linda is holding their special day when they will present all the work that they done through the year and they will also have a theatre performance and I am sure that they will be playing music with all the wonderful new band equipment that they have received.
Tonight we will be celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Mayan Families staff and volunteers. 
Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.
We are so thankful for each and everyone of you!
Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Elderly Care Program

Hi Everyone,

Please visit the Elderly Care Program at the following link.

There have been many updates and the need is great in order to allow these elderly people to have food to eat.
Many of them have other needs as well and they really need sponsors to continue the feeding program.

Please spread the word to get help for them on facebook, your blogs, websites and email.

Megan from the Elderly Care Program asked me to post the following message on MFC for her.

Thank you! Bonnie

Feed Just One.

Our Elderly Care program feeds about 70 people per day at our locations here in Panajachel and the neighboring village of San Jorge.

For most of them, this is the only meal they receive all day. Some stretch their portion by saving half for the evening. For some, they are the only members of their family who get to eat that day. Others save half their meal for their wife, husband or families at home.

When I ask what they'd eaten that day, or what they might eat later, many answer: a single tortilla with salt. A single egg. A tomato. Nothing.

Some of our elderly live with their entire families in a single house. Some have nine children who have four or five children of their own. Food prices continue to soar, leaving those who cannot work in worse conditions than ever: the adults in the house must choose who gets to eat, their children or their parents. They must choose who gets to sleep in a bed, and who must sleep on the floor.

This should not have to be a choice. The Feeding Program provides a single meal a day to the elderly who otherwise would forfeit their food for the children, or who by their poor health would not otherwise be able to scavenge the trash for scraps or find other means to feed themselves.

Having spent their lives in desperate conditions during the last century of war, poverty, civil unrest and its constant repercussions, the elderly are still the last to receive relief in Guatemala. And having spent their lives struggling with the hope that someday things might get better, and being proven otherwise, they are grateful for even the smallest gift: one meal per day, five days a week.

By no means is one meal enough, but at the moment it is all Mayan Families can provide, and the program is in danger of being cut. Only those who are currently sponsored will continue receiving their one meal a day. The rest we will have to refuse; we will have to tell them that even this tiny, but necessary quantity of food will be taken from them, like so much has been taken from them throughout their lives.

Currently, only 13 of our elderly receive a monthly donation to help with food, medical costs, rent or other necessities. In an effort to ensure that all 70 of our elderly receive just one meal a day, not including purchased medicine, rent costs or other expenses, we are asking you to sponsor one for just $35 a month. We will continue to help our elderly for medicine and other needs per the extraneous donations we receive. However, $35 a month will provide one meal per day, five days a week, to one person who has no way to care for herself, whose family faces the daily impasse of feeding who they must raise or feeding who fought to raise them. 

If you would like to help to keep one person fed for one month, please and write "one month, one person'' in the Otherbox. 
Best Wishes,

Megan Gette
Family Aid Coordinator

Earthquake info

Hi friends,
I am sorry that I have not had much of an update about the earthquake here.
We have been very busy since the earthquake hit.

We have been the  liaisons here for Shelter box..which is an International relief organization funded by Rotary.
We have been storing the huge Shelter boxes here for the past two years...and just the morning of the earthquake we had a group here and I showed them the boxes and said " hopefully, we won't have to use them for a long time"....and then just a little while later the earthquake hit!

While it was very strong and scary here in Panajachel, we were fortunate , apart from some cracks in some buildings we did not have much damage.
Unfortunately, many other places were not so lucky.

The department of San Marcos was very badly hit. This was Wednesday.
We went out there on Friday , taking Shelter boxes , a team from Mayan Families who were experienced in erecting the tents and a visiting group of Rotarian's from Upper Arlington Rotary Club, Columbus Ohio were here and were able to come with us and help.

When we first drove into San Marcos the damage was not so obvious but after being taken around to so many different houses that had been destroyed or made uninhabitable and unsafe, we started to get an idea of how overwhelming the destruction was. Every street seemed to have a house that had fallen down or was in danger of falling down. Sometimes from the outside the houses looked OK. but then we would go inside and there were walls crumbling and it was obvious that the houses were very unsafe.

We were taken to an emergency community kitchen that had been set up and there were lines of people waiting to be fed.   

One of the local people brought a woman to me ...probably in her mid 30's who had suffered terribly from this earthquake. 
She had lost her mother, her 3 year old son, her sister and her sister's little child..  Her brother was in the hospital having his leg amputated from the knee downward.
Her young niece was being flown out by helicopter as we were speaking, she was being rushed to the hospital in Guatemala City where she was going to have an operation to try and repair and operation that had not gone well in San Marcos. If this operation was not successful , it was feared that she would be unable to walk .  Her house was also destroyed . Her husband had left several months ago to go to the U.S. illegally and he has not found a job.   He does not have the money to come back and be with his family right now.   I cannot imagine what either of them are going through. 

I had no idea what to say to a person who was going through such suffering and grief.  She looked at me with such dazed eyes and told me that she had two children that had survived and she had to go on for them. She asked me why God would have allowed this to happen. I had no answers for her, I could not even fathom such grief as she was enduring  but hugged her and wished her the strength to be able to get through this.    Later I saw her meeting with the Vice President of Guatemala and being hugged by her.  I hope that she can get some help for her family.

There were so many families and stories.

One family that we sent a tent up in their courtyard was a grandmother, single mother, three children.  The young daughter, around 10 years old had been lying on the bed , she jumped up and grabbed her pet rat in a cage and ran out.   This family was so lucky, the little girls bed had a wall fall down on it completely.   If it had been night and she had been asleep ...she would not have had the time to get up and get out.  If this earthquake had not happened in the middle of the day...the death toll would have been very, very high. 
This family lost their the grandmother told me, even their toilet was broken.    Their kitchen was still standing but unsafe, they were using that until we put up the Shelter box tent.
All their possessions were in the courtyard . It was obvious this was a family without much money, if any at all, to be able to rebuild.   I wonder how these families are going to be able to re build.
The grandmother had the same dazed look that we saw in so many eyes.  

So many people were begging us for tents for shelter but we did not have that many with us and the Shelter box team were flying in and we were going to hand over making the decisions to them.   

After the Shelter box team arrived, they thought there would not be much of a need for the tents as they had thought.  It looked like some people would be able to build a tin shelter or stay with families, but then the government sent engineers to start looking at the houses and there were so many houses marked for demolition ..that they realized that these people would no longer have anywhere to live.   So they ordered more Shelter boxes to come in.

We ended up clearing a field of corn ..that had already been harvested in one village. 15 tents were able to be set up there.
Each tent can hold up to 10 and probably more ..they are fantastic tents.

We found one family that the mother had just given birth to a baby a few days before. She was lying in bed with the baby when the earthquake hit.
She grabbed the baby and ran out ....her husband also made it out. There very small house collapsed around them. The mother and the baby probably would not have survived if the mother had hesitated to run out.    The mayor of this town sent in 5 men to clear the little house so that a Shelter box tent could be erected for them. 
They were so thrilled. They had been sleeping in an emergency shelter set up in a church.  
The baby had not been named yet so they named the baby, Jennifer , after the leader of the Shelter Box team. 

Bob and Oscar from Mayan Families stayed onto help the Shelter Box team and the rest of us went back to Panajachel.
The day after we left they found an emergency shelter where the people were sleeping on a concrete floor and were freezing . They did not have enough blankets and they did not have mattresses.
They contacted the Rotary Club and were able to get mattresses, blankets and some food to them.
Many of these people need someplace to live.
The Shelter Box team have realized that the problem is going to be much larger than they first anticipated.
When we returned to Panajachel, we had a request from the Mayor of Solola to tour some of the areas affected here.
Susie and Sergio went with them to take photos and there are many houses in various villages that have been badly damaged or destroyed completely.
Tomorrow, Monday , 19th, we are sending Bob, a Mayan Families staff member once again with the Mayor to see if we can find families who would fit the criteria for a Shelter box tent.
The Shelter Boxes are fantastic but they are a temporary shelter...( even though we still have people living in them 2 years after Tropical Storm Agatha was here)..but what we need are real houses for people to live in.
We are going to make an effort to build as many houses as we can ......please join us in this effort to help families get back on their feet.
These will be basic houses but they will be safe and warm.
If you would like to donate a house in the name of someone who has all they need already for Christmas, please know that this would be a miracle for the family that receives it.
If you would like to donate so that someone can buy a sheet of tin for their roof, that would also be a huge help.
If you would like to bring a team down and build a house would be a great time to do that. 

There is always a lot of need in Guatemala but right now it is worse and the need is more urgent.   If you have ever thought about helping with a small donation ...this would be a great time to do it. Please mark it for Earthquake Relief. 

Thank you ,
To donate, please click on the link below!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Historic buildings around Guatemala damaged by Earthquakes!

12 November 2012 | 22:23
Guatemala City. Historic buildings around Guatemala, including centuries-old town halls and churches, were hard hit by the earthquake that struck last week, killing 42 people, authorities said Monday, cited by AFP.
In San Marcos, west of the capital, serious damage was done to the Palacio Maya (Maya Palace) built in 1942 as well as to the Quetzal hall, mayor Carlos Barrios
 told local media.
"These architectural jewels simply gave way to the earthquake. All we can do is remember how well they served us," he said.
In the western city of Quetzaltenango, 19th-century buildings were damaged by widening major cracks, as were historical buildings in Suchitepequez in the south, officials said.
In Solola, west of the capital, at least 10 Spanish-colonial era churches were damaged by the quake. Authorities have yet to inspect most of the damaged buildings to determine if they can be repaired or have to be demolished.
Some 16,000 people were affected by the 7.4 magnitude quake off Guatemala's Pacific coast, this country's most violent seismic event since 1976 when almost 23,000 people perished in an earthquake.
The World Food Programme, meanwhile, was distributing eight tons of food to families who lost their homes in the quake.

Volunteers help Guatemala Quake Victims